"Gov. Mark Sanford admitted Wednesday to an extramarital affair with a woman living in Argentina and to lying to South Carolinians to cover up his tryst -- then asked everyone, including his family, for forgiveness. The two-term S.C. Republican, a rising GOP star, fought tears during a news conference hours after a reporter from The State newspaper surprised him at the Atlanta airport on his way back from seeing the mother of two during Father's Day weekend."
The State newspaper also publishes e-mails it had received from an anonymous tipster months ago about an affair Sanford was having with a woman named Maria in Argentina. The paper chose not to publish the e-mails at the time, because it couldn't verify them.
Video: NBC's Mark Potter reports on the emergence of steamy e-mails between Sanford and the woman, identified as "Maria."
The New York Times says that Sanford's "confession and apology, in a rambling, nationally televised news conference, left other mysteries unsolved, like whether he had lied to his staff members as late as Monday about his whereabouts, whether the affair had definitively ended, whether he would resign from the governorship and whether he would even have acknowledged the affair had he not been met at the airport in Atlanta by a reporter upon his return."
We brainstormed and came up with a list of 20 political sex scandals since Bill Clinton in 1998, including 16 just since 2006.
More coverage… The New York Post: "Latin lover e-mails." And: "Runaway Gov: Cry for me, Argentina."
The New York Daily News: "Buenos Airhead" over Sanford wiping his eye. "Meet America's latest luv guv."
The repercussions for the GOP? "Any hopes that House and Senate Republican leaders had for going into the July Fourth recess next week on a high note were dealt a major setback Wednesday when South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) announced he was having an affair with a woman in Argentina," Roll Call writes. "Sanford's affair is just the latest in a series of ill-timed scandals and controversies involving high- profile Republicans that have helped undercut the efforts of party leaders to rebuild after two straight electoral losses and the repercussions of the Bush administration."
Dan Balz adds, "For a Republican Party down on its luck, the governor's disappearance and subsequent rambling apology to his wife, his family, his close friends and all the people of South Carolina draw more unwelcome publicity to a party that needs but cannot seem to get any good news."
More: "Some political strategists question how Republicans can get traction when two pillars of their message -- family values and fiscal rectitude -- have been undermined by errant politicians' transgressions, and by the collective failure of GOP leaders to control spending when they held the White House and Congress. 'If Republicans talk about family values, people will roll their eyes,' said Matthew Dowd, a onetime adviser to President George W. Bush who later broke with the president. Dowd said Obama's big budget deficits leave him and Democrats vulnerable on that issue, but he added, 'It's hard to say [voters are] going to trust Republicans on it.'"
The New York Times: "That it was the second such confession in little more than a week from a potential Republican presidential contender — Mr. Ensign had been exploring a run in 2012 as well — left party leaders dazed. They spent Wednesday alternating between gallows humor and yet another round of conversations about what the party stands for and who will give it its best shot to retake the White House."