White House officials are keeping their distance from the adultery scandal swirling around South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. Efforts by the media to get a few comments from presidential aides have been mostly unsuccessful since the scandal broke this week. "I'm just not going to go there," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told U.S. News yesterday.
Asked about it by reporters at a media breakfast yesterday, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel tried to make a joke. "The guy could have used a cigarette," Emanuel said, then dropped the matter. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, who is governor of Virginia, also was discreet. "It's a family issue," he said during a radio call-in show on WRVA in Richmond, Va., yesterday. Kaine said he knows Sanford and his family from the governors' service in the Southern Governors Association. "I just really felt sad for them," Kaine said. "And that still is my main reaction." He added, "People in office have the same flaws and foibles that average folks do, but your life is not your own."
A White House senior adviser told U.S. News that Obama doesn't want to pile on. Democratic strategists say that the GOP will be tarnished by the Sanford scandal through coverage by the media and that the administration should stay out of it.