First lady Jenny Sanford does not live in the Governor's Mansion anymore, but she opened the historic home to holiday visitors Thursday, fulfilling one of her annual duties as first lady.
In her first public appearance in the capital city since her husband, Gov. Mark Sanford, admitted to an affair with an Argentine woman, the first lady greeted a steady stream of South Carolinians who had come to check out the mansion's wreaths, Christmas trees and lights.
Wednesday, they can check her out on TV. She'll be featured in a Barbara Walters special on the most fascinating people of 2009.
Jean Traynham of Irmo already has her TV programmed to record it.
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"I admire her very much," Traynham said as she toured the mansion. "I think she must be a wonderful mother and she's been good for our state."
Thursday's open house provided several women the chance to show support for the first lady, now separated from her husband and living with the couple's four sons on Sullivans Island.
Some mansion visitors said the Georgetown-educated mother of four is inspirational because of her refusal to stand by her man in the wake of his confession to the year-long tryst.
Others appreciated her dignity and focus on her children in the wake of the scandal.
Some, like Thelma Paul of West Columbia, just wanted the first lady to know she's always welcome in the capital city.
"We are glad to see her here in Columbia," Paul said as she and her family made their way through the mansion. "She's a beautiful lady. And that's the important part - a lady."
Jenny Sanford - sans her wedding ring - seemed comfortable among the crowd, shaking hands, posing for photos and even taking a few questions from reporters.
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