Former SC Gov. Sanford says he won't return to politics

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) said he's ruled out a return to politics in his first national interview since admitting to an affair that crippled his political ambitions.

Sanford, who had been seen as a rising conservative star before publicly admitting to having an affair with an Argentinean woman, said he's out of politics.

Sanford replied to Fox News's Sean Hannity in an interview set to air Friday evening about a possible return to politics: "No, I'm not."

Sanford's bright political future tumbled after he admitted to the affair following an unexplained disappearance in June of 2009. He initially explained his absence by saying he'd been hiking the Appalachian Trail, but eventually confessed to the affair. His wife, Jenny Sanford, later divorced him. Sanford managed to serve through the end of his term despite weathering impeachment proceedings and calls for his resignation.

Sanford says he's been in hiding working on a farm he owns since leaving office, with no real plans for the future.

He offered some advice for the GOP's presidential candidates this fall, counseling them to find a nominee that combines the bluntness of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) with the attention to wonkish detail of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee.

"I would say the attributes that I'm looking for at this point is a combination of Paul Ryan and Chris Christie," he said. "Right now, I've been a bit disappointed on the degree to which people are stepping out or not stepping out on real remedies.”