He said his public approval ratings have been dropping in part because of the need to defend himself publicly, including a sidewalk news conference across from Mr. Thomas’ office last week that some critics pronounced as bizarre.
The public hears only the story from his critics, the governor said, for whom in many cases it is “payback time.”
Adding to Mr. Sanford’s woes, a poll released Friday found that 49.5 percent of South Carolina voters now want Mr. Sanford to go, compared with 36.6 percent who say he should remain in office. The result stands in sharp contrast to a similar poll shortly after the affair was revealed, when a majority of state voters said he should stay.
Mr. Sanford’s term ends in January 2011.
Mr. Sanford said his lack of support stems in part from the resentment arising from his efforts to challenge the status quo, including tort reform and a battle all the way to the state Supreme Court to kill a spending measure loaded with political pork for special interests.
“We have really changed the way things have been done in this state for a long time, and that produced bruised feelings” among legislators in both parties, Mr. Sanford said.
Mr. Sanford acknowledged being jarred by the total lack of support from fellow Republicans in recent days, but said his isolation had only increased his focus on the fight to save his job.
“What happened is that you take your eye off the ball and have the moral failing that I did,” Mr. Sanford said, “and suddenly you are off the playing field. Then you realize how blessed you were to have been on that playing field.”
With a record that included business tax cuts, promoting charter schools and criticizing Mr. Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus spending plan, Mr. Sanford was riding high in the state until he made a clandestine trip to Buenos Aires in June to see his lover. To conceal the trip, he told his staff a “little white lie.”
After the affair was revealed, his wife moved out of the Statehouse with the couple’s four sons.
“Never again,” he said in the interview. “In many cases in life, you never fully appreciate your blessings until you lose them.”