June 24th, 2009
07:02 PM ET

Big politicians – Big apologies

[cnn-photo-caption image=
http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/06/24/south.carolina.governor/t1home.sanford.presser.02.gi.jpg caption="South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford on Wednesday as he admits to having an affair."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=
http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/06/16/ensign.affair/art.ensign.presser.ktnv.jpg caption="Sen. John Ensign of Nevada at a press conference admitting to an affair with a campaign staffer."]

Jacob Smilovitz
AC360° Intern

Today’s admission by South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford that he made a secret trip to Argentina where he was having an affair with a woman may be interesting, but it is definitely not unprecedented in American politics. Tonight on AC360° we dig deeper into what makes these political figures take such risks. For a quick refresher, here are some notable apologies and mea culpas over the years.

Gov. Mark Sanford (R – South Carolina)
June 24, 2009

In a news conference:

“And so the bottom line is this: I have been unfaithful to my wife. I developed a relationship with a - what started as a dear, dear friend from Argentina. It began very innocently as I suspect many of these things do, in just a casual e-mail back and forth in advice on one's life there and advice here.

[cnn-photo-caption image=
http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/11/11/john.edwards/art.edwards.gi.jpg caption="John Edwards admitted in August, 2008 that he had an affair with Rielle Hunter in 2006."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=
http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/POLITICS/03/12/spitzer/art.announce.afp.gi.jpg caption="Gov. Eliot Spitzer, wife at his side, apologizes on March 10, 2008 and announces he is stepping down."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=
http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2007/POLITICS/07/10/vitter.madam/art.vitter.gi.jpg caption="Sen. David Vitter apologized after his telephone number appeared among those linked to an escort service."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=
http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/24/art.clintonadmission.jpg caption="This photograph taken from CNN television shows President Bill Clinton testifying on August 17, 1998 in the Map Room at the White House."]

But here, recently, over this last year, it developed into something much more than that. And as a consequence I hurt her. I hurt you all, I hurt my wife, I hurt my boys. I hurt friends like Tom Davis. I hurt a lot of different folks.

And all I can say is that I apologize.”

Sen. John Ensign (R – Nevada)
June 16, 2009

In a news conference:

“Last year, I had an affair. I violated the vows of my marriage. It's absolutely the worst thing that I have ever done in my life. If there was ever anything that I could take back in my life, this would be it.

I take full responsibility for my actions. I know that I have deeply hurt and disappointed my wife Darlene, my children, my family, friends, my staff, and all of those who believed in me. And to all of them, especially my wife, I'm truly sorry.”

Former Sen. John Edwards (D – North Carolina)
August 8, 2008

In an ABC News interview:

“In 2006, Two years ago, I made a very serious mistake. A mistake that I am responsible for and no one else.

In 2006, I told Elizabeth about the mistake, asked her for her forgiveness, asked God for his forgiveness. And we have kept this within our family since that time.

All of my family knows about this and just to be absolutely clear, none of them are responsible for it. I am responsible for it. I alone am responsible for it.

And it led to this most recent incident at the Beverly Hilton. I was at the Beverly Hilton. I was there for a very simple reason, because I was trying to keep this mistake that I had made from becoming public.”

Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D – New York)
March 10, 2008

In a news conference:

“We sought to bring real change to New York. And that will continue. Today, I want to briefly address a private matter. I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family, that violates my or any sense of right and wrong.

I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public, whom I promised better. I do not believe that politics in the long run is about individuals. It is about ideas, the public good, and doing what is best for the state of New York.

But I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family. I will not be taking questions. Thank you very much. I will report back to you in short order. Thank you very much.”

Sen. David Vitter (R – Louisiana)
July 10, 2007

In a written statement:

"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible. Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there-with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way."

President Bill Clinton (D)
August 18, 1998

In a primetime address:

“Good evening. This afternoon in this room from this chair, I testified before the office of independent counsel and the grand jury. I answered their questions truthfully, including questions about my private life, questions no American citizen would ever want to answer. Still, I must take complete responsibility for all my actions, both public and private, and that is why I'm speaking to you tonight.

As you know, in a deposition in January, I was asked questions about my relationship with Monica Lewinsky. While my answers were legally accurate, I did not volunteer information.

Indeed, I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible.”

Filed under: 360° Radar • Bill Clinton • Eliot Spitzer • John Edwards • Raw Politics
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Dawn Rojas

    The Govener of SC needs to resign and do it now. This is not only an imoral case, it's a criminal case as he misappropriated taxpayer dollars to fund his trists in South America. Now he is apologizing, quoting the bible and promising to pay tax payers back? Please, give me a break, he has embarassed this State time and time again, your imoral, illogical and corrupt. A prime example of do what I say and not what I do. He needs to find a rock in a foreign country to hide under, any takers? He didn't want Obama's "stimulus package", but obviously on tax payer dollars he was stimulating his own "package".

    June 26, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  2. Cheryl GA

    One more hypocrite trying to say he knows what's best for me. Give me a break. No wonder he didn't want the bailout money!

    June 25, 2009 at 4:34 pm |
  3. Nicole

    As reprehensible his acts were, I still don't understand the value of the "personal" emails revealed by "The State" newspaper and jumped on by other media outlets. It is sad that journalism has fallen into "voyeurism".
    They only hurt the family in turmoil.
    Firstly, John O'Connor (The State journalist who received the copy of the emails) this morning confirmed they were from governor's "personal" email account to his mistresses' "personal" email account. Isn't this unlawful, to violate someone 's privacy? If this was a crime, the emails would not hold in a court. Second, their content adds nothing to the news. It just fills up the air time. I think "The State" wanted to break the scandal and the governor cut them short!

    June 25, 2009 at 12:34 pm |
  4. Louetta

    Two big stories lately: Politician cheating on his wife and skipping out on his family leaves the nation shocked and disillusioned...Odd character in PA cheating on his wife and skipping out on his family and it's a TV series. It kind of leads into the discussion of being judged by your peers...there's a different judgment depending on who your peers are at any given moment.

    June 25, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  5. Elizabeth

    I see not-so-much resemblance to this guy and others who did the womanfall. The state's top exec disappears for four days–no one knows where he is or how to reach him. He's reported on the Appalachian Trail–pretty strange right there. Then we find it's not just a woman, but a woman in another hemisphere.
    It's all that that makes it such a compelling piece of wierdness.

    June 25, 2009 at 10:22 am |
  6. feemsyer

    men are pigs-they must be forgiven? time to face what you have done-forgiveness? NO

    June 25, 2009 at 2:12 am |
  7. fred

    i am so tired of these self righteous people preaching their family values while messing around with Tom, Dyck or Judy....

    If you preach it, live it; otherwise, shut up.

    Give it a week, he will no doubt be forced to resign,

    How dare one preach 'family values' while he is apparently using tax dollars to carry on an affair.,,,,let the facts come out and speak to his real values

    June 25, 2009 at 1:42 am |
  8. carson rhodes

    Affairs are nothing new. Anywhere, even in politics. I do suspect however that ever since Repulicans used such fodder to take down President Clinton, they unwittingly set the bar higher than they intended to and are suffering for it. He should know by now that this stuff kills careers. For conservatives/republicans to say that Big Government doesn't work, they should look in the mirror to see why.
    They are just nailing down the coffin aren't they?

    June 25, 2009 at 1:33 am |
  9. Ramon Morales

    I would like to comment on the Virginia Governor. He sounds honest, he has also gotten too deep into his affair, perhaps deep enough to keep him from backing out. This we will find out in the future, But lets go back a few years with at the time president Clinton, he clearly stated that he had nothing to do with the young lady, and in the white house, how low can you get? others has gotten away with it. this incident has nothing to do with his performance at the job, I believe that if we are to judge, let his record decide. Politics should not play a role after all he is human, and humans have feelings. I feel bad for his wife and four children but; is there more to this story?? what has force or driven this individual to do this? he indicated his wife knew about the affair? why did she not act? lets not jump to any conclusions and wait. There has to be more. Good luck governor.

    June 25, 2009 at 1:26 am |
  10. Renee'

    I am quite tired of the lack of morality in people of position. Be it political, spriitual, celebrity, or sports related. An apology is not as important as obstaining from the behavior. Affairs and such lay waste to families, and blacken the ideals of the country. A man in public office should be ousted from his position immediately and not be allowed to serve in that capacity ever again. He shoud be spurned, not congratulated for "being a man," and "courageous," because he came forward. A "courageous man" would not need to apologize.

    June 25, 2009 at 12:18 am |
  11. Susan Frishkorn

    Moral of the story: politicians are human – fine. Now can we get back to business?

    If we are to put a politician under the microscope may we please begin with a politician who started an illegal war, spied on fellow Americans, and instituted torture as a national policy?

    When we Americans start paying attention to the issues that really matter, and demand that our elected officals behave like public servants as opposed to celebrities – then, my friends, we will be getting back on track. The path of our Country is truly up to us.

    Susan Frishkorn, Pensacola

    June 24, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  12. Mike/Las Vegas

    Democrats who can't control or channel their libido? Republicans who support DOMA and vote against gay marriage, and then violate their own marriage vows?

    Maybe we need new logos for the two parties, to replace the donkey and elephant....rabbits for the Democrats; hippos (for hypocrites) for the Republicans !

    June 24, 2009 at 11:12 pm |
  13. Amy Capetta

    Hey Anderson:

    Here's a great headline for this story: "Don't cry for me Argentina."

    June 24, 2009 at 9:53 pm |
  14. elisa b

    i want my children to have a future , get all these men and women who really dont know what it means to truly "serve the public" out of office and lets get real people in office. How much more are we going to stand for? I truly believe most officals in office would turn the other way and not stand up for what is right and to have that thought terrifies me. they are only looking out for them selves, not for us the public who do an honest days living each and every single day. i dont know how they sleep at night. not even thinking twice what there policies and cuts have done to peoples lives.

    June 24, 2009 at 9:11 pm |
  15. gregory hopkin

    Gotta love Religious Republicans! Ya know, the judgemental ones promoting discrimination and inequality. I don't care what they do with their mistress in Argentia or one or more cousins in the Appalachians. Have at it! Just get the hell outta my life!!

    June 24, 2009 at 9:00 pm |
  16. carolyn

    Happy Fathers Day kids, What kind of christian man leaves his wife and sons to go see his girlfriend in Argentina on fathers day. What a looser!

    June 24, 2009 at 8:54 pm |
  17. Charlie Erickson

    Anderson, I really hope that your program tonight will focus on this as little as possible. Most of us really don't give two rats about some politician's affair. Was a crime committed?

    There are so many other issues to cover. Focusing some much attention to, and airtime on this, turns responsible journalism into supermarket tabloid garbage.

    Campbell Brown is turning her whole show tonight, into a journalistic joke.

    She should have spent the airtime better focusing on political bribery and on what should be a major crime: Monetary donations to political self interests, in exchange for Capitol Hill votes and favors. Now that would make for great journalism; not this crap.

    I hope you don't join in with this malarkey, on your show tonight. You should mention it, then move on. I know you are much better than having to resort to scraping the bottom of the journalistic barrel.


    June 24, 2009 at 8:50 pm |
  18. Walter Rebello

    I think it is time that our country publicly apologizes to Bill Clinton to what was done to him during his presidency and having said that the press should never, ever publish anything over anyone's personal life.
    Back to Bill... Was he a good president? No he was not good, he was much more than that, an excelente President but his personal life which is none of anyone's business shadows his legacy.
    Even being a registered democratic it is time to stop it. Last week was a GOP senator from NV, today the governor... come on... Please stop it and lead us the people/public over who is a good president and who is a bad president, who is a good governor and who is a bad governor.
    Let's talk about Iran, about the economy and forget people's personal life.

    June 24, 2009 at 8:47 pm |
  19. Alice

    Whats next ? Palin getting it on with RUSH.

    June 24, 2009 at 8:23 pm |
  20. Alice

    Not surprised at all. Man leaves kids on fathersday weekend, and doesn't tell anyone where hes going. I thought he was in some rehab.

    Hey Gov, Happy Fathers Day. Gee wasn't President Obama speaking this past week to DADS' about being there for their kids and being RESPONSIBLE. Gov must have missed that coverage, I guess they don't have cable in that part of Argentina. LOSER!

    June 24, 2009 at 8:22 pm |
  21. Franky, Land of Lincon

    LOL!!! Bill!!!!

    "I did not have sexual relations with that woman..."

    Yeah Bill, and I didn't know the woman was in my bed, LOL!!!

    I love Bill...

    June 24, 2009 at 7:13 pm |
  22. Damien

    Finally, a real issue of bipartisanship!

    June 24, 2009 at 7:09 pm |
  23. Bruce

    You let the little head think for the big head at the expense of your family, dignity of the office and people of SC that trusted you. Don't further lies by attempting to justify them. Just leave quietly and hike to Argentina; maybe that will clear your head....

    June 24, 2009 at 7:08 pm |
  24. Jason D

    What was his support of the "Defense of Marriage Act"? Does he support same-sex marriage? Another Republican hypocrite.... how shocking! 🙂 🙂

    June 24, 2009 at 7:06 pm |

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.