South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford says he was in Argentina the whole time.
The State newspaper apparently staked out the Atlanta airport and got an interview with Sanford as he got off a plane.
Gov. Mark Sanford arrived in the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport this morning, having wrapped up a seven-day visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina, he said. Sanford said he had not been hiking along the Appalachian Trail, as his staff said in a Tuesday statement to the media.So, he had no idea why his staff said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, even though he had mentioned before he took off that he might do exactly that.
Sanford's whereabouts had been unknown since Thursday, and the mystery surrounding his absence fueled speculation about where he had been and who's in charge in his absence. His emergence Wednesday ended the mystery.
Sanford, in an exclusive interview with The State Media Company, said he decided at the last minute to go to the South American country to recharge after a difficult legislative session in which he battled with lawmakers over how to spend federal stimulus money.
Sanford said he was alone on the trip. He declined to give any additional details about what he did other than to say he drove along the coastline.
Sanford, who was wearing a blue and white button down shirt and brown denim pants, said he left for Buenos Aires on Thursday night from Columbia International Airport and had originally planned to come back tomorrow.
Media reports said a SLED SUV the governor drove that night was spotted in the airport's parking lot.
The governor said he cut his trip short after his chief of staff, Scott English, told him his trip was gaining a lot of media attention and he needed to come back.
When asked why his staff said he was on the Appalachian Trail, Sanford replied, "I don't know."
Sanford later said "in fairness to his staff," he had told them he might go hiking on the Appalachian Trial.
Oh, and he didn't see fit to mention to his wife that he was leaving the country.
And, being out of the country and completely out of contact for seven days, Sanford didn't bother to make sure that somebody, anybody, was governing South Carolina in his absence.
Sanford is not missing anymore, but the mystery of his disapperance is by no means resolved.