Sanford reflects on seven years in governor's mansion, ponders future during 45-minute Russell House address Wednesday evening
More than seven months after their divorce was finalized, Jenny Sanford said she isn't sure Gov. Mark Sanford believes it.
"Something's not quite right there," Sanford said during a speech on campus Wednesday night. "I'm not sure if it's denial that I'm not with him anymore or what ... But I don't want him back."
To drive her point home, she recounted a post-courtroom phone call the day her divorce became final in March. The couple had previously negotiated the details of the divorce, and she'd announced her intentions to national media.
"He asked me how my day was, and I said great," Sanford remembered. "I said 'How was yours?' and he said 'It wasn't so good. I didn't think you were going to go through with it.'"
Sanford appeared on campus Wednesday night and delivered a 45-minute speech inside the Russell House Ballroom, smiling
and laughing at times. Estimated attendance was between 100 and 200 students, interspersed with faculty and staff members. Chairs were empty across the room.
There were moments she spoke directly from her prepared notes, but there were quite a few times where Sanford went unscripted, recalling an anecdote or inserting an impromptu segue.
She talked at length about moving on and forgiveness while encouraging USC students to give back through charity, politics or helping others.
"It's important to grieve," she said. "I was in a puddle for six months; there were a lot of tears. But you have to choose consciously to leave your self pity and move on."
There were times post-Argentina when her four sons considered the country a bad word, hushing each other if it was even mentioned at the dinner table.
But recently, her son Bolton took a map of the country to school, calling it the "Sanford family crest" for a class
"... He had to write on the crest what his greatest challenge was, and he wrote 'Dad has this mistress in Argentina, and we had to move back to Charleston.'"
To her, that was a good sign.
She embraced divorce during the speech, talking of her newfound life and freedom on Sullivan's Island near Charleston. Sanford, quoting The Bible on multiple occasions, said her faith in God has deepened throughout the ordeal. Sanford said she could have forgiven adultery, but she couldn't condone it continuing. Sanford also said she wasn't aware of the governor's previous indiscretions with other women. "I gave him more chances than he deserved," she said.
Life in the Governor's Mansion wasn't always easy. Managing a fulltime staff, attending multiple events a week and
keeping up appearances while taking care of four growing boys was difficult. It was also tough finding family time, Sanford said, as the governor often neglected family time for work duties.
Now, the governor sees his children a lot more, she said.
What's next for the ex-First Lady? Mark Sanford will move out of the governor's office in January, and the family will adjust to his new location and job, she said.
She might write a novel and plans a return to the business world, albeit in a job where she has structured hours and time for her children.
Sanford is single and plans to continue dating, but there's no hurry.
"I'm looking for rich, single, no kids and no
baggage," she said drawing laughs. "But I think that's pretty tough at this point."