Gov. Sanford returning to office Wednesday -, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Gov. Sanford returning to office Wednesday

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COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is cutting a hiking trip short and returning to office Wednesday due to the media attention focused on his absence, according to the governor's spokesman.

Joel Sawyer said in a press release that Sanford called in to check with his chief of staff Tuesday when he heard the about the publicity surrounding his trip to the Appalachian Trail. The State newspaper in Columbia reported Wednesday, however, the governor was not hiking - he was driving along the coast in Buenos Aires.

"It would be fair to say the governor was somewhat taken aback by all of the interest this trip has gotten," Sawyer said.

Sawyer said given the attention the trip has garnered, Sanford planned to cut his trip short and return to the office on Wednesday.

Gov. Mark Sanford's wife sparked worry Monday after saying she did not know the location of the two-term Republican chief executive. Sanford's staff declined to disclose where he was until 10 p.m. Monday.

Sanford's spokesman Joel Sawyer says despite speculation, the South Carolina governor was not missing, but rather taking a breather from the statehouse.

First lady Jenny Sanford told The Associated Press her husband had been gone for several days and she didn't know where. She said she was not concerned, noting the governor said he needed time away from their children to write something.

Sawyer declined to discuss where the governor was, but told The Associated Press that Sanford was taking time to "recharge" after his failed fight against federal stimulus money.

"The governor is hiking along the Appalachian Trail," Sawyer said in a press statement Monday night. "I want to emphasize that this isn't something that either staff or Mrs. Sanford is concerned about. As we said earlier today, it isn't unusual for the governor to be out of pocket for several days after the legislative session. We knew he would be difficult to reach, and that he would be checking in infrequently."

But does his absence strike the fancy of South Carolinians?  Many say no, calling his move "inappropriate."

"Everybody's entitled to a vacation, but when you're running the state, his people need to know where he is," said Julia Saverance.

Residents who talked with WMBF News say it's understandable that even the governor needs a break from the pressures of his job, but have one piece of advice for his next trip away from the statehouse - tell somebody.

"You are still a leader and still have to be accessible, certainly in the event there are important decisions you have to make," said Saverance.

©2009 WMBF News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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