By Molly Parker
Published July 1, 2009
As Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer perused the salad bar and the wraps at Whole Foods in Mount Pleasant on Wednesday afternoon, he was overheard saying into his cell phone that he was trying to hide.
As he checked out, Bauer attempted to ignore a Business Journal request for an interview, saying he had hoped to remain in the dark today, and that he had already turned down an interview with CNN.
“I’m trying to be fair,” he said, asking for a phone conversation the next morning.
But Bauer did answer a few questions as he stood waiting for his aide to check out behind him.
Bauer said he had heard the rumors swirling today that Gov. Mark Sanford might step down as a growing chorus of leading Republicans call for his resignation.
“Personally, I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Bauer said.
But Bauer said he is ready to assume the role of governor, noting that the constitution calls for the lieutenant governor to fill that position should it be vacated for any reason. He also said he was hurt by calls for Sanford to stay in office specifically because critics did not believe Bauer was fit to serve as governor. The voters put him in office twice, Bauer said.
“Sure it’s hurtful,” Bauer said. “But that’s politics.”
Still, Bauer indicated he was not willing to forgo a run for governor to appease those critics, or to mitigate concerns that he would gain an unfair advantage in a 2010 race should Sanford resign and he become governor. Bauer told CNN on Monday that such a scenario might help calm the political storm clouding the overriding question about whether Sanford should resign.
“We are at an impasse now because it’s all about 2010 and the next governor’s race, and I don’t see anyone being an adult,” he told CNN.
But on Wednesday, Bauer said: “I am running” when asked whether he was thinking about bowing out of the race. But clearly growing frustrated by the interview he did not want to have, Bauer paused, and then said, “Again, I’m not saying I’m running.”
Bauer said he had already said too much, and didn’t want to give a story he wasn’t ready to talk about.
“I don’t want to answer any more questions — please,” he said, walking away.
Should Sanford resign, Bauer would be immediately elevated into the high-profile job after seven years of serving in the shadows. The lieutenant governor’s office — its main function overseeing the Office on Aging — does not play a major role in day-to-day state government operations.
It didn’t appear that many people shopping at Whole Foods during the busy lunch hour recognized Bauer. He was briefly approached by one man.
Wearing a business suit and tie, Bauer looked at the wraps, and then meandered around the salad bar at Whole Foods without interference. He seemed undecided on what to pick out for lunch.
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