SULLIVANS ISLAND, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford considered resigning from office after his extramarital affair came to light, the Republican revealed Sunday in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.
But Sanford, who hasn't spoken publicly since Friday, said he spoke with close spiritual and political associates who advised him to fight to restore the public's - and his family's - trust in him.
"Resigning would be the easiest thing to do," he said.
Sanford spoke outside his coastal home on Sullivans Island. Wearing frayed khaki shorts and a t-shirt, he talked about "walking into the legislative term with a humble spirit."
"I have to go through that voyage over the next 18 months," he said, alluding to the number of months he has left in his second term. He is barred by state law from seeking a third and, at one time, had been rumored as a potential presidential contender in 2012.
Now, Sanford says he wants to repair the frayed trust in him and continue to serve the people of South Carolina.
The governor admitted last week to a yearlong affair with a woman in Argentina. He and his wife say they will try to reconcile. Some lawmakers are calling for him to resign because he used public money to see the mistress during one trip, and because he was out of touch with his staff during his recent weeklong tryst.
Sanford repeatedly said he did not use public money for the trip, so it was not clear why he has agreed to reimburse the state for some of the more-than $8,000 in taxpayer money spent on the Argentina leg of an economic development trip to South America last year.
When it comes to his critics - most notably state Sen. Jake Knotts, R-West Columbia - and their calls for him to step down, Sanford said he understands where they are coming from.
"I don't begrudge the Jakie Knottses of the world," Sanford said. "He's going to do what he's going to do. I gotta do my part."
As far as his wife, Sanford said they are working on their relationship.
"If there wasn't healing going on, I wouldn't be here," he said, pointing to his beach house, where he had dinner with his family Saturday night and where he took a run at sunrise on the sand with one of his sons.