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First Lady Jenny Sanford

First Lady Jenny Sanford

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Things were not going well for the Sanford agenda in the legislative chambers, and the war room in the Governor's Office was in full battle mode.The governor's communications director, his spokesman and his speech-writer were in an intense conversation with an animated Sanford, who paced a room filled with stacks of newspapers, cluttered desks, and a closed-circuit TV with a piece of paper taped to it that read, "THIS IS OUR TIME TO LEAD."It wasn't Gov.

Mark Sanford at the center of this controversy.

He was having lunch in Fort Mill with a business executive, talking about the company's expansion plans.It was his wife, first lady Jenny Sanford, who was calling the shots.Meanwhile, just down the hall, a group of women, most of them in their 60s or better and wearing their Sunday finest, were gathering, oblivious to the political gamesmanship behind the security checkpoint that separates the Governor's Office from the rest of the world.They've come from across the state to witness the presentation of the South Carolina Mother of the Year award.And without missing a beat, the first lady steps out of the bull session and into the circle of grandmotherly Southern ladies, all smiles and how-do-you-do.It's all part of the job for this high-energy Wall Street executive turned governor's wife who is redefining the role of first lady of South Carolina.She works out of a tiny cubicle designed for an intern, has no job title other than first lady, leaves at 2:30 on most afternoons to pick up her kids at school and gets paid nothing for the job.

But it doesn't take long to see that if she's not the engineer, Jenny Sanford is the one who makes the trains run on time around here.After Fred Carter left the job of chief of staff in December, the governor named two staffers as interim co-chiefs of staff -- and the first lady took on her office job."To date, that has remained and seems to be working fine," Mrs.

Sanford said between reading e-mails and trying to learn to use a new Nokia cell phone.

"So for all intents and purposes, until or unless that right chief of staff person shows up, we will continue with this situation we have right now."
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