Jenny Sanford: Newt 'wouldn’t get my vote'

ashain@thestate.comJanuary 19, 2012 

South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford poses for photos in her office at her Sullivan's Island home where she wrote her memoir "Staying True".

C. ALUKA BERRY/CABERRY@THESTATE.COM

Former S.C. First Lady Jenny Sanford is not a Newt Gingrich fan.

In an interview on MSNBC on Thursday, Sanford said some voters might be swayed by a TV interview with Gingrich’s second wife where she accused the former House speaker of wanting an open marriage. Sanford divorced her husband, former SC Gov. Mark Sanford, after he had an affair with a woman from Argentina while he was in office.

Sanford said voters need to consider at Gingrich’s personal history that includes three marriages with his last one ending after he was having an affair with his current wife, Callista. Gingrich's poll numbers have spiked after a strong showing in Monday's debate in Myrtle Beach.

“It does call into question his character on a personal side,” Sanford said. “As a voter, I encourage people to look at both sides, the personal side, and if you’re going to overcome somebody’s moral failings or infidelities, you also have to see where they fit ideologically, and how much their rhetoric meets their reality and in my mind, Gingrich falls short on both fronts. So he wouldn’t get my vote.”

She said a candidates personal history has an impact on the job they can do in office.

“I think it comes down to the simple question of character,” she said. “Does that mean that we cannot overcome failings one side? Absolutely not. I think the American people are actually fairly forgiving. But there has to be some notion, I think, if there is serious failings on one side that there’s a very, very strong stance on the other side.”

Sanford said she has not picked a candidate for Saturday’s GOP presidential primary though any of them could defeat President Obama. She was heading to tonight’s debate in Charleston with two of her sons.

She decried “a race that has been very long on rhetoric and sensation and short on substance” and blamed the media for stirring controversy in the election.

“I think it’s going come down to the wire,” Sanford said. “It’s kind of a crazy race. There are a lot of undecided people I talk to and a lot of accusations.”

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