I’ll admit it: I thought this AP piece was really funny:
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Gov. Mark Sanford is inviting presidential candidates from both parties to spend some time huffing, puffing and pedaling across the state in his Family Fitness Challenge.
Sanford says he is inviting fellow Republicans and rival Democrats to take part in a 70-mile bike ride from Aiken to Estill or a 5K walk in Aiken on May 5. The governor has set aside a weekend every spring since taking office to promote fitness through bike rides or other activities.
The invitations haven’t been sent out, so it was unclear Tuesday who might accept Sanford’s challenge.
“If there’s anybody that would appeal to, that would be Mike Huckabee,” says Mike Campbell, who is advising the former Arkansas governor’s South Carolina campaign, adding it is the kind of event that fits well with Huckabee’s image after his dramatic weight loss.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and wife could sign on because both are active and athletic, Romney’s South Carolina campaign manager Terry Sullivan said.
“This is something that they’d love to do,” Sullivan said. “This is their kind of event.”
And Republican Romney could use the bragging rights from a 70-mile bike ride. In January, his five sons beat him in a 440-meter run.
But don’t expect Arizona Sen. John McCain to don biking shorts anytime soon. The Republican would applaud Sanford’s physical fitness efforts, campaign spokesman B.J. Boling said.
“Right now, Sen. McCain’s focus is on improving the country’s fiscal fitness,” Boling said.
And New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, has no plans now to take Sanford up on the invitation, says Lachlan McIntosh, Richardson’s South Carolina campaign manager.
“It’s obviously a nice and important thing for Gov. Sanford to do,” McIntosh said. “It certainly would be equally encouraging if Gov. Sanford reached out to some of these leaders to help him solve South Carolina’s unemployment problems and find health insurance for the thousands of South Carolina working families that don’t have it.”
The purpose of the event is to bridge the gap between parties, Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said
“We’re trying our best to keep partisanship out of this event, but if Lachlan wants to come and participate, we’ll be sure to have a bike with training wheels for him,” Sawyer said.