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Gov. Sanford Blows Chances for 2012 Republican Nomination     Permalink

Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC), a deeply religious conservative Christian and frequently mentioned 2012 presidential candidate was caught with his pants down. Like Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), the married governor has admitted to having had an extramarital affair. The woman lives in Argentina and has been identified only as "Maria" so far. That pretty much ends any chances he might have had to be the Republican nominee in 2012. While Democrats don't care much about politicians having affairs, the Republican base cares a lot about it.

An interesting question is why did Sanford admit to the affair and thus destroy his political career? The reason appears to be that some steamy emails sent by the governor were obtained by a newspaper in December. Undoubtedly Sanford knew they were about to be published so he had to go for a preemptive strike. Also, his wife knew about the affair.

Republicans like Sanford, Ensign, and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) aren't alone in having (paid or unpaid) affairs. Democrats such as former governor Eliot Spitzer, Gov. David Paterson (D-NY), and former senator John Edwards have also admitted to affairs. The difference is that the Republicans have all made "family values" the central theme of their campaigns and wooed the Republican base by saying: "Vote for me because I am more moral than the other guy." The Democrats have never made family values a key issues and can't be charged with hypocrisy as the Republicans can.

It is long obvious that the Republicans need some new young faces and some of the potential candidates, like Ensign and now Sanford have self destructed. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) gave the rebuttal to one of President Obama's speeches in February and demonstrated that he is not ready for prime time. Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) hasn't destroyed himself yet, but is peripherally ensnared in the long-running Minnesota Senate election contest. The other "new" Republicans, like former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) aren't all that new and young. All this strengthens the chances of Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in 2012.

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