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.
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.”
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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