For all Edwards' work in
advancing an anti-poverty agenda, he will be remembered by many for his
affair with videographer Rielle Hunter, which betrayed his family,
supporters and staff, and the ideas he campaigned upon. The National Enquirer broke the story
on Oct. 10, 2007 with an article headlined, "Presidential Cheating
Scandal! Alleged Affair Could Wreck John Edwards' Campaign Bid."
Given the outlet and the fact that the article cited unidentified
sources and did not name the woman, it was easy to discount the
matter. Indeed Edwards denied the story the next day, and it was
largely ignored by the mainstream media. On Dec. 18 the Enquirer named the woman as Rielle
Hunter and published many more specifics. Yet the mainstream
media did not push on the story and Edwards was able to continue his
campaign until his withdrawal at the end of Jan. 2008. He only
conceded to the affair in an Aug. 8, 2008 appearance on ABC's
"Nightline." The story re-emerged in May 2009 with the
publication of Elizabeth Edwards' book Resilience.
STATEMENT from John Edwards
August 8, 2008
In 2006, I made a serious error in judgment and conducted myself in a way that was disloyal to my family and to my core beliefs. I recognized my mistake and I told my wife that I had a liaison with another woman, and I asked for her forgiveness. Although I was honest in every painful detail with my family, I did not tell the public. When a supermarket tabloid told a version of the story, I used the fact that the story contained many falsities to deny it. But being 99 percent honest is no longer enough.
I was and am ashamed of my conduct and choices, and I had hoped that it would never become public. With my family, I took responsibility for my actions in 2006 and today I take full responsibility publicly. But that misconduct took place for a short period in 2006. It ended then. I am and have been willing to take any test necessary to establish the fact that I am not the father of any baby, and I am truly hopeful that a test will be done so this fact can be definitively established. I only know that the apparent father has said publicly that he is the father of the baby. I also have not been engaged in any activity of any description that requested, agreed to or supported payments of any kind to the woman or to the apparent father of the baby.
It is inadequate to say to the people who believed in me that I am sorry, as it is inadequate to say to the people who love me that I am sorry. In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic. If you want to beat me up — feel free. You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself. I have been stripped bare and will now work with everything I have to help my family and others who need my help.
I have given a complete interview on this matter and having done so,
will have nothing more to say.
Elizabeth Edwards described her
reaction to learning of John Edwards' affair in Resilience:
Reflections on the
Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities (May 8, 2009,
Broadway Books). At
the end of Dec. 2006 he told her of one instance of infidelity.
"I wanted him to drop out of the race, protect our family from this woman, from his act. It would only raise questions, he said, he had just gotten in the race; the most pointed questions would come if he dropped out days after he had gotten in the race. And I knew that was right, but I was afraid of her. And now he knows I was right to be afraid, that once he had made this dreadful mistake, he should not have run. But just then he was doing, I believe, what I was trying to do: hold on to our lives despite this awful error in judgment."