South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has been tipped as one of the rising stars of the GOP, with potential presidential hopes in 2012. That makes the events of the last week all the more strange. Sanford disappeared. No one knew where he was: not his wife, not his office, not the Governor’s security detail. He was gone. The stories put out got stranger and stranger. First, his office said, he had gone off to work on some writing projects by himself. Then, he was walking the Appalachian Trail to clear his mind after the recent legislative session. The office did mention that his last call to them had been traced to a cellphone tower near Atlanta, which led immediately to the question of why his office had been tracking him via cell phone towers.
Nonetheless, everyone insisted, things were just fine. Sanford would come back on Wednesday to resume the business of government in South Carolina, which had essentially been in abeyance in his absence, as he had not handed over power to the Lt. Governor before leaving.
Then, things got even weirder. Sanford was not on the Appalachian Trail, or in Atlanta. He was in Argentina:
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was in Argentina during a dayslong unexplained absence, not hiking the Appalachian Trail as his staff told the public when state leaders raised questions about his whereabouts, the governor told a newspaper
What he was doing there remains unclear. The governor claimed he was simply driving along the coast line in Argentina. The Appalachian Trail, his original destination, proved unattractive:
The Republican governor told the South Carolina newspaper he decided at the last minute to go to the South American country. The governor says he had considered hiking on the Appalachian Trail but wanted to do something “exotic.”
So he flew to Argentina to drive the coast. The problem, as the Associated Press pointed out, is that driving the coast in Argentina is not all that easy:
Trying to make such a drive could frustrate a weekend visitor to Argentina. In Buenos Aires, the Avenida Costanera is the only coastal road, and it’s less than two miles long. Reaching coastal resorts to the south requires a drive of nearly four hours on an inland highway with views of endless cattle ranches. To the north is a river delta of islands reached only by boat.
|He was down there, somewhere|