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Posts Tagged ‘Nikki Haley

Mark Sanford and Maria Belen Chapur: Happily Ever After?

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Soul mates are hard to find.

But former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has likely found his, and no thanks to popular websites like Match.com and eHarmony.

Sanford, who left office on Jan. 12 when Nikki Haley was sworn in, was spotted last week at a glitzy resort in Uruguay with Maria Belen Chapur, a former Argentine journalist he calls his soul mate.

The couple fascinates the Argentine press. The Argentine celebrity magazine “Caras” published an eight-page spread on them. One picture shows Sanford in a blue polo shirt, khaki shorts, baseball cap and sunglasses holding hands with Chapur in white shorts and a gauzy top. Other pictures show the pair enjoying a day at the beach. They look, well, happy.

If Danielle Steel was writing the story of Mark and Maria, it would be a best-seller.

The popular governor of a Southern state with the heiress wife and four sons meets an exotic divorced woman, a former journalist turned commodity broker, who speaks four languages, at an open-air dance spot in Punte del Este, a jet set locale.

They become friends. They chat over the next seven years on e-mail. Suddenly, passion ignites and friendship turns to romance. But roadblocks loom everywhere. The Republican governor is a family-values man in a conservative state with a high-profile national role as the chair of the National Governors Association.

His head belongs to politics, his heart to a woman thousands of miles away. He balances home life with governing the state, but thinks constantly of the woman he will die “knowing is his soul mate.”

Mark must see Maria even if it means jeopardizing his family and career. He sneaks away to Argentina without telling his staff. His absence is noticed and his wife, who knows about Maria, and says he has disappeared before. His staff says he is hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Enter an intrepid local reporter who gets a tip, meets Mark’s plane from Argentina at a metropolitan airport and busts him.

His career is on the line. Maria is chased by media. Her e-mails are hacked and love notes are leaked to the press. Mark risks it all and gives an interview declaring Maria is his soul mate. His critics – and even some supporters – want Mark to resign. He refuses. Impeachment begins, but fails. His wife moves out of the governor’s mansion. He is censured. He stays in office and true to Maria, who never sells out for fame and fortune but holds steady for love.

If Mark Sanford’s story were a romance novel, we would be rooting for the love birds to live happily ever after, walking on a beach at sunset with glasses of champagne. But in real life in the United States, affairs and infidelity are looked upon as sinful, distasteful and wrong.

Sanford isn’t alone in his quest for true love. Researchers have said there is a 50-50 chance that a partner will have an affair during a marriage. That includes non-physical relationships such as romance via e-mail, which is how Mark and Maria began their romance.

Although Maria is likely to get the blame for the Sanfords break-up, she was likely not the cause. As Dr. John Mordecai Gottman, a psychologist who studies marital stability, says, “Most marriages die with a whimper, as people turn away from one another, slowly growing apart.”

It happens. Just look at Al and Tipper Gore. No one would have seen their split coming ten years ago – although Al and Tipper might have.

Politicians are people, too. Mark Sanford wasn’t caught in a tawdry scene in a cheap motel by an interstate. It appears he fell in love. His path begs the questions: What would you do for love? Keep your current life or toss it all for “the one”? Mark and Maria walked through the fire together and came out on the other side. Loyalties tested, they both passed.

Last week, according to the Argentine press, Mark and Maria sped around town in her gray Peugeot (it would be an exotic car, wouldn’t it?), passing through the neighborhood where they met 11 years ago. (That alone is admirable. It is hard enough to maintain a friendship for 11 years, much less something deeper.) They enjoyed a long lunch. They walked on the beach. They revisited Punte del Este where they met those many years ago.

“Belen and Mark took in the sun, walked hand-in-hand along the surf and kissed passionately, showing that long-distance love, in the electronic age, is not impossible,” according to the “Caras” story.

The Associated Press has sought comment from Sanford. He did not respond. Cue the love song as end credits roll.

Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 3:24 am

Welcome, 2011: Sarah Palin and Julian Assange on the Radar Screen

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Ready or not, 2011 is here.

Consider some of these upcoming historic milestones as the new year arrives. 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of Jefferson Davis becoming president of the Confederacy, the 70th anniversary of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech (actually, his 1941 State of the Union address), the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s first presidential news conference — and the first ever to be broadcast live on television), and 25 years since the space shuttle Challenger disaster.

But 2011 will have its own special history, and here are some of the events that will help write it:

Sarah Palin’s presidential decision: Palin will have to decide this year whether to run for president. In order to compete in the 2012 primaries, she will have to soon start building a ground game in states like Iowa and New Hampshire. Sure, she has her reality television show, two books, and husband Todd may show up on the next “Dancing With the Stars,” but Palin must do much more than be a household name to win a crowded GOP primary.

Sarah Palin, Julian AssangeThe former Alaska governor accumulated a lot of favors in the midterm election by supporting winning candidates in key presidential states — such as Nikki Haley in South Carolina — via her Sarah PAC. But she has a lot of work to do on the popularity front. A recent poll by CNN/Opinion Research shows that Palin would offer the weakest challenge to President Obama among current top-tier GOP contenders.

Time is ticking for Palin to make a decision because there are . . .

GOP primary debates: Yes, they’re already in the works. The Reagan Presidential Foundation will kick off the election season by hosting a panel of GOP presidential candidates in the spring. Then there’s June 7, 2011: That’s the date of the first presidential debate in New Hampshire for the 2012 GOP primary. The candidate forum will be sponsored by the New Hampshire Union Leader, WMUR-TV, and CNN. Likely participants: Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, outgoing Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and South Dakota Sen. John Thune. Wild cards: Palin, Newt Gingrich, Jeb Bush.

Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding: The royal couple will tie the knot on Friday, April 29 at the thousand-year-old Westminster Abbey in London. The wedding may not draw as massive a crowd as gathered for Williams’ parents’ nuptials 30 years ago in St. Paul’s Cathedral, but the media will certainly provide massive coverage. Prime Minister David Cameron has already designated the date as a public holiday.

The event will require major security, the cost of which could top $8 million. British special forces will go undercover with Afghan war veterans from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment to watch for any potential attacks around Westminster Abbey. The wedding will also boost tourism — one company has launched a walking tour of locations that helped “define the next royal golden couple.” Also on tap: Kate is soon to be immortalized in wax by Madame Tussauds, and the royal couple will be featured on a British coin.

Julian Assange’s autobiography: No date has been set for the book’s release, which will be published sometime in 2011 by Alfred A. Knopf and Britain’s Cannongate. The WikiLeaks founder is fighting extradition from England to Sweden, where he faces questioning for alleged sex crimes. Assange has said he doesn’t want to write a book but must do so in order to cover his ballooning legal costs and to continue funding his whistleblower website, which has angered and embarrassed governments worldwide by releasing hundreds of thousands of confidential cables and other documents.

To capitalize on (and extend) Assange’s 15 minutes of fame, Knopf will likely have to publish the book sooner rather than later. Assange will also likely cash in on a movie adaption of the book, especially since his story seems to have all the components — mystery, intrigue and sex — that sell tickets.

The space shuttle retirement: In 2011, America’s space shuttle will blast into orbit for the final time. The last scheduled flight is in early April. NASA is retiring its shuttle fleet after 30 years of service to make way for future programs that will send astronauts to an asteroid by 2025 — part of Obama’s new space exploration initiative. The president cancelled NASA’s Constellation program, which was developing new vehicles to send astronauts back to the moon. The end of the shuttle means that the United States will soon have to hitch rides with the Russians to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.

Last year, former astronaut (and senator) John Glenn condemned the cancellation of the shuttle program. In a statement, he lamented that “for the next five to ten years, the launches of U.S. astronauts into space will be viewed in classrooms and homes in America only through the courtesy of Russian TV. For the ‘world’s greatest spacefaring nation,’ this is hard to accept.”

EMILY’s List Takes Swipe at Sarah Palin’s ‘Mama Grizzlies’

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Sarah Palin has made “Mama Grizzlies” a campaign theme, but a Democratic women’s group is growling back.

EMILY’s List, a national organization dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women to office, announced a new campaign, “Sarah Doesn’t Speak for Me,” on Monday. Its mission: To fight back against Palin’s “radical agenda” and her endorsed candidates.

In a press release, the group said: “Sarah Palin has predicted a rising tide of mothers and women voters will support her so-called ‘Mama Grizzly’ candidates. Today, we call upon women — and men! — to let their voices be heard and to reject Palin’s reactionary candidates and backward-looking agenda. We’re asking Democrats, Independents, and moderate Republicans who have no home — to join us in our new campaign, Sarah Doesn’t Speak for Me.”

The group planned to announce more details of the campaign Tuesday in Washington, and launched a new website for the campaign.

“We wanted to respond to Sarah Palin and her candidates’ assertions that they were speaking for all women with a community of women who are speaking for themselves,” Jes McIntosh of EMILY’s List told Politics Daily. “It’s a place for them to connect and respond, meet their neighbors and tell what they want out of their government.”

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser responded Tuesday, saying, “EMILY’s List is running scared — and it shows. Clearly, in this ‘Year of the Pro-Life Woman,’ which Sarah Palin helped make possible, women have found their political voices. Pro-life ‘Mama Grizzlies’ represent the majority of women across the country.”
She added, “We are looking for women leaders who affirm the best in women — who seek to include rather than exclude the rest of humanity as we find our fulfillment. EMILY’s List is busy perpetuating what it purports to abhor: using women candidates with whom they disagree as punching bags.”

Palin, one of the most polarizing figures in politics, has spent a large portion of this year traveling the country in support of female GOP candidates, or as she calls them “Mama Grizzlies.” Through her Sarah PAC, Palin has endorsed a host of female candidates including South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley and Susana Martinez in the New Mexico governor’s race. Both won. Both are the first GOP women in their states to win their party’s nomination.

Palin has also had some losses in her endorsements, including Karen Handel, who lost Georgia’s gubernatorial nomination earlier this month.

In Tuesday’s Wyoming primary, Palin endorsed Rita Meyer for governor. On her Facebook page, Palin wrote on July 29: “She may not have millions of dollars to campaign with, but she has enough volunteer human resources and is running her campaign the old fashion way — grassroots and gritty! Voters know that Rita has a unique blend of steel magnolia and mama grizzly.”

In July, Sarah PAC released “Mama Grizzlies,” a video that consists mostly of audio clips from a speech Palin gave to the anti-abortion rights group, Susan B. Anthony List.

The new president of EMILY’s List, Stephanie Schriock, spoke in Boston last month about Palin. The Boston Globe reported that Schriock said Palin “represents a set of values that are way out of the mainstream and arguably out of the mainstream of the Republican Party.”

Schriock replaced EMILY’s List founder, Ellen Malcolm, earlier this year. The group, which was founded 25 years ago, is trying to lure younger women who may have no memory of life before Roe v. Wade to its pro-choice cause. Palin is now the poster girl for it.

So far, Palin hasn’t addressed the EMILY’s List campaign against her.

On Monday afternoon, she told her Facebook followers she would appear that evening on Greta Van Susteren’s show on Fox News to discuss energy resources in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, among other topics.

“I’m traveling with Greta Van Susteren to Alaska’s North Slope and ANWR to discuss how developing our resources can contribute to America’s energy independence, security, job growth, and economic stability,” Palin wrote. “You’ll see what the remote 20 million acres of ANWR with its vast oil and gas reserves really looks like (unlike the extreme environmentalists’ fundraising pics).”

Written by suziparker1313

March 7, 2011 at 5:33 pm