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South Carolina Gov.

Mark Sanford sent risque e-mails to Argentian loverBY Helen KennedyDAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER Updated Thursday, June 25th 2009, 9:08 AM Turner/GettySouth Carolina Gov.

Mark Sanford, once a big name in the mix for the GOP in 2012, admits to having an affair at a press conference Tuesday.

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Mark Sanford arrived home from a secret six-day jaunt to Buenos Aires to tearfully confess to an affair with an Argentine hottie - which included graphic e-mails in which he professed his love for her body and her "tan lines." "I spent the last five days of my life crying in Argentina," a tanned Sanford confessed at an extraordinary, rambling news conference in Columbia, S.C.He suggested the bizarre trip was his Last Tango in Buenos Aires and that he had broken up with a woman he loved to stay with his wife and four sons.

"I am committed to trying to get my heart right," he said.

Sanford choked up as he delivered a long series of apologies: to his wife, his four sons, his in-laws, his friends, his staff - and to people of faith and his state.

"I've let down a lot of people, that's the bottom line," he said.

"I hurt her [his mistress], I hurt my wife, I hurt my boys.


I hurt a lot of different folks." Jenny Sanford, the governor's wife, issued a statement saying she had kicked him out two weeks ago, but would give him another shot.

"I believe Mark has earned a chance to resurrect our marriage," she said.

Sanford, once one of the GOP's rising stars, resigned as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

He did not quit his job running South Carolina, but his many political enemies in the state were already muttering about impeachment.

Sanford had been missing since last Thursday.

His staff claimed he was hiking the Appalachian trail.

Sanford apparently didn't think anyone would notice his absence.

Political foes alerted the press, and his wife fueled the story by saying she didn't know where he was and implying she didn't much care.

'Dear, dear friend' The State newspaper of Columbia published e-mails between the governor and his mistress, identified only as Maria, that ranged from steamy to heartbreaking.

"How in the world this lightning strike snuck up on us I am still not quite sure," he wrote, after praising the curve of her hip and her tan lines.

"Despite the best efforts of my head, my heart cries out for you." The newspaper said it obtained the e-mails last December.

At a packed news conference, Sanford meandered about his youthful adventure holidays and his kids' dinosaur bedsheets before getting to the point.

He talked about his affair with a "dear, dear friend" - but never once mentioned that he had left the state leaderless.

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