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mark sanford and maria belen chapur

DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK … YET

Former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford has proposed to his longtime Latin lover Maria Belen Chapur, the Argentine website Clarin is reporting.

According to the website’s report Sanford proposed to Chapur last week at the Bella Italia Grill in Buenos Aires – staging an elaborate scene in which a waiter at the restaurant presented her with a pouch in honor of being the 100th customer of the day.  Once Chapur opened the pouch and discovered an engagement ring inside, Sanford – who had been hiding in the restaurant’s bathroom for over an hour – emerged to profess his undying love for her.

“What followed was a long moment of kisses, tears and emotions,” Clarin reports. “There were heartfelt words and promises of eternity.”

Awwwww …

For those of you who have suppressed the memories, Sanford became a national spectacle during the summer of 2009 when he dramatically confessed his affair with Chapur. The married father of four – who compounded his problems by oversharing about his feelings – nearly lost his job as a result of an ensuing ethics investigation into his travel practices.

Among other abuses, Sanford failed to report dozens of private flights, obtained improper upgrades on numerous state-funded trips and misused the state plane for personal and political purposes. Most damagingly, Sanford’s Commerce Department spent tax dollars on a 2008 South American “economic development” trip during which the governor had a romantic rendezvous with Chapur.  Sanford ended up paying $74,000 in fines associated with his various violations – but he avoided impeachment.

Meanwhile his wife, Jenny Sanford, publicly exited the Governor’s Mansion (with the couple’s four children) after attempts at reconciling her the marriage proved fruitless.  She filed for divorce in December 2009, which the governor declined to contest.

Politically, Sanford’s scandal ended his 2012 presidential aspirations … which as U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney explained to us earlier this year were quite legitimate.

“We are looking for a candidate who shows a little of Ron Paul’s libertarian streak especially when it comes to big government, and who also taps into the feelings of war-weariness, which I think (are) real; a candidate who can explain conservatism as brilliantly as Newt Gingrich; a candidate who is as solidly credible on social issues as Rick Santorum; and a candidate who looks, talks, acts and just seems like a great president, like Mitt Romney,” Mulvaney told us last March. “That’s what we are looking for. The problem is that (this) candidate exists – but he left for Argentina in June 2009.”

Hard to argue with that assessment.

So will Sanford, 52, attempt a political comeback?

We filed a report on that back in January 2012 … and obviously his proposal to Chapur will go a long way toward fueling speculation about his future ambitions.

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