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Wife of S.C. Governor Praised for Her Tough Stance Against His Infidelity

Jenny Sanford was a chief strategist during South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's ascendancy, but she now says, "His career is not a concern of mine."
Jenny Sanford was a chief strategist during South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's ascendancy, but she now says, "His career is not a concern of mine." (By Mary Ann Chastain -- Associated Press)

"His career is not a concern of mine," Jenny Sanford told reporters camped at the end of her driveway as she left with her boys for a boat ride the other day. "He's going to have to worry about that. I'm worried about my family and the character of my children."

Her husband has been staying in the governor's mansion in Columbia since she kicked him out a few weeks ago. He spent several hours Thursday on Sullivan's Island, where he began trying to repair the damage.

Asked Friday about his marriage, he told reporters: "This goes into the personal zone. I'd simply say that Jenny has been absolutely magnanimous and gracious as a wonderful Christian woman in this process."

Here on Sullivan's Island, neighbors were reluctant to talk about what they called "the events" and said they have an abiding faith that the Sanfords will work it out -- privately.

Inside an art gallery, the owner was skittish of saying anything about the Sanfords, good or bad. "This is a very private community, and this is a personal family issue," Julie Sweat said as she readied her shop for an art show.

Next door at the Green Heron, a small grocery store on the main drag, a sign read "EVACUATE, MEDIA SCUM."

"This was their place to get away from it all," said Jessamyn Jacobs, 47, a manager at Station 22 restaurant. "I feel sorry for them, and the poor woman."

In this small community of mostly full-time residents, everybody seems to know everybody -- and everybody seems to know everybody's business. But, said Taylor McLeod, 21, a barista at the coffee shop here, "It's not like Wisteria Lane, 'Desperate Housewives' standing on the corner gossiping. People keep to themselves and don't air other people's dirty laundry."

Lalla Lee Campsen, a close confidant, was with Jenny Sanford on Wednesday when the governor gave his rambling confession. "It was a day filled with sadness and great disappointment, as well as love, support and hope from family and friends," Campsen said in an e-mail. "It was also a day when Jenny exuded, perhaps as never before, her great strength of character."

Friends said the written statement she issued was classic Jenny Sanford. She told the world that she loves her husband and would strive to repair their marriage, but that she asked him to leave because it was "important to look my sons in the eyes and maintain my dignity, self-respect and my basic sense of right and wrong."

"Did you read her statement?" asked Marjory Wentworth, a family friend and South Carolina's poet laureate. "Brilliant, gracious, effervescent."

Jennifer Sullivan Sanford was born into a wealthy Irish Catholic family in suburban Chicago and graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University with a degree in finance. She took a job handling mergers and acquisitions on Wall Street, rising to become a vice president at Lazard Freres & Co.

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