Sanford admitted to having an extramarital affair after returning from a secret trip to visit a woman in Argentina and said that he would resign as head of the Republican Governors Association.
Steamy e-mails between South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and his Argentinian lover have emerged, painting a picture of two oversexed and hopeless romantics who knew their love was doomed.
The philandering governor writes longingly of his lover’s “gentle kisses,” “tan lines,” “the curve” of her hips and “the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of the night’s light,” according to excerpts published by The State newspaper in South Carolina.
“Please sleep soundly knowing that despite the best efforts of my head my heart cries out for you, your voice, your body, the touch of your lips, the touch of your finger tips and an even deeper connection to your soul,” Sanford wrote in an e-mail dated July 10, 2008.
The object of Sanford's desire was identified by Argentinian newspaper La Nacion as Maria Belen Chapur, 43, of Buenos Aires, a divorced mother of two adolescent boys. She runs marathons and is fluent in English, Portuguese, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.
“I feel a little vulnerable because this is ground I have never certainly never covered before,” Sanford wrote in another message to Maria, the woman he said he fell in love with and was visiting when he went AWOL for a week. “So if you have pearls of wisdom on how we figure all this out please let me know ... In the meantime please sleep soundly knowing that despite the best efforts of my head my heart cries out for you, your voice, your body, the touch of your lips, the touch of your finger tips and an even deeper connection to your soul. I love you ... sleep tight. M.”
The e-mails were published by The State, which had been sitting on them since December and ran them after the governor's bizarre press conference meltdown on Wednesday. In a CNN interview, State reporter John O'Connor said the e-mails were sent to the paper anonymously from the governor's e-mail account and the paper had been unable to verify their authenticity until this week.
Sanford's messages to the mother of two he said he met eight years ago show the heart of a romance novelist, though one in need of a good copy editor.
“Do you really comprehend how beautiful your smile is?” Sanford wrote in one e-mail. “Have you been told lately how warm your eyes are and how they softly glow with the special nature of your soul. … Since our first meeting there in a wind swept somewhat open air dance spot in Punta del Este, I felt that you had a … rare attribute.
“You have a particular grace and calm that I adore. You have a level of sophistication that is so fitting with your beauty. I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificently gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curves of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of night’s light — but hey, that would be going into the sexual details we spoke of at the steakhouse at dinner — and unlike you I would never do that!”
Sanford's wife kicked him out of their house two weeks ago, but the illicit, international romance remained a secret until the 49-year-old Republican returned from Argentina. He had been missing for a week, with his staff, security detail and spurned wife unaware of his whereabouts. On Wednesday, he resurfaced at an Atlanta airport, where a reporter from The State was waiting and gave a oddly flippant explanation for dropping out of sight. Hours later, at a news conference, the real story came out, along with tears and endless appeals for forgiveness from the father of four young boys.
Sanford implied that he went to South America to break off the year long love affair, and "spent the last five days of my life crying in Argentina. It must have been emotional, because Maria's e-mails back to Sanford showed the governor's feelings were reciprocated.
“My beloved,” Maria writes. “You brought happiness and love to my life and (I) will take you forever in my heart. … I haven’t felt this since I was in my teen ages, when afterwards I got married. I do love you, I can feel it in my heart, and although I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to meet again this has been the best that has happened to me in a long time. You made me realized (sic) how you feel when you realy (sic) love somebody and how much you want to be beside the beloved..”
“You are my love,” Maria wrote in another message. “... something hard to believe even for myself as it’s also a kind of impossible love, not only because of distance but situation. … Sometimes you don’t choose things, they just happen ... I can’t redirect my feelings and I am very happy with mine towards you.”
But as their torrid romance circled the drain, the lovers seemed to grasp the obstacles to a happy life together.
“I don’t know how we figure all this out,” Maria wrote. “And I am not interested in knowing. I prefer to think we’ll see each other again somewhere sometime in this life and in next. … Before our mails use to have other contents ... if you want to go back to that and don’t write love things and so on because is not safe for you it’s ok with me, i (sic) love you and by no way would do something that can harm you.”
“We are in a hopelessly — or as you put it impossible — or how about combine and simply say hopelessly impossible situation of love,” Sanford wrote. “How in the world this lightening strike snuck up on us I am still not quite sure."