(CNN) – As he was being considered for the vice presidency, the South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford told his mistress that the only political challenge that remained was "the top spot" – the presidency.
"There are but 50 governors in my country and outside of the top spot, this is as high as you can go in the area I have invested the last 15 years of my life," he wrote in e-mails obtained by The State newspaper. "- my getting here came as no small measure because I had that foundation of love and support so critical to getting up in the morning and feeling you could give and risk because you already had a full tank of love in the emotional bank account."
He also refers to their first meeting "in a wind swept somewhat open air dance spot in Punta del Este."
At the time of the messages between the GOP governor and a Buenos Aires resident named "Maria" - the summer of 2008 - Sanford was viewed as a possible contender to join Republican presidential candidate John McCain on the GOP ticket.
(Update: CNN's sources in Buenos Aires and in South Carolina have since identified the woman,
whose name was also widely reported in Argentine media, as Maria Belen Chapur.)
The State, which acquired the e-mails in December, told CNN that the governor's office had confirmed their authenticity on Wednesday. When contacted by CNN, a spokesman for the governor would neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of the emails.
In the messages, Sanford expresses his strong feelings for Chapur, along with inner conflict over the circumstances of their affair. "As I mentioned in our last visit, while I did not need love fifteen years ago – as the battle scars of life and aging and politics have worn on this has become a real need of mine," he wrote.
"In all my life I have lived by a code of honor and at a variety of levels know I have crossed lines I would have never imagined," he added. "I wish I could wish it away, but this soul-mate feel I alluded too is real and in that regard I sure don't want to be the person complicating your life."
He said he had looked to the Bible for counsel, particularly to I Corinthians 13, which lays out the qualities that define true love. "In this regard it is action that goes well beyond the emotion of today or tomorrow and in this light I want to look for ways to show love in helping you to live a better – not more complicated life.
"…I better stop now least this really sound like the Thornbirds – wherein I was always upset with Richard Chamberlain for not dropping his ambitions and running into Maggie's arms," he said, referring to the story of lovers torn apart by duty and circumstance. "The bottom line is two fold, my heart wants me to get on a plane tonight and to be in your loving arms – my head is saying how do we put the Genie back in the bottle because I sure don't want to be encumbering you, or your options or your life."
John O'Connor, the newspaper reporter who wrote the story about the e-mails, told CNN Wednesday afternoon that The State did not confront Sanford with the messages in December because at the time "there was little way to tell that these were authentic e-mails."
O'Connor said that given the recent events surrounding Sanford, the paper then decided to approach the governor's office with the e-mails.
Sanford, who had been considered a potential candidate for the 2012 presidential campaign, admitted the affair Wednesday.