Former White House hopeful Edwards admits to affair

August 9th, 2008 - 4:20 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Barack Obama
Washington, Aug 9 (DPA) Former presidential candidate John Edwards has admitted that he had an extramarital affair during the initial stages of his campaign for the Democratic Party’s nomination. Edwards, a former US senator who was the vice presidential running mate of 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry, admitted to an affair with Rielle Hunter, a 44-year-old filmmaker who produced online documentaries for Edwards’ campaign.

“In 2006, I made a serious error in judgement,” Edwards said in a statement to US news media. “I was and am ashamed of my conduct and actions.”

US broadcaster ABC, which first broke the story, released a full interview with Edwards Friday night. When asked by the interviewer about the end of his political career, Edwards replied, “I don’t think anything has ended.”

He said that God and his wife had forgiven him, and that he intended to “move on.”

Edwards’ wife Elizabeth was diagnosed in 2004 with breast cancer, which resurfaced in March 2007 as an incurable bone tumour. The couple has two school-age children and an older daughter.

Edwards told ABC that his wife’s cancer was in remission when he began an affair with Hunter, which reportedly went on for about two months in late 2006, before he formally announced his candidacy for president.

Edwards said that he told his wife soon after the affair in 2006 but admitted fighting to have kept it out of the public eye.

He had categorically denied media reports of the affair during his campaign for the White House, and the details of the relationship were still unclear. Edwards confirmed to ABC that he had visited Hunter at a Los Angeles hotel as late as last month.

Hunter gave birth in February. Edwards denied that he was the father of her child and said the he was planning to take a paternity test to prove it.

A former campaign aide, Andrew Young, has claimed to have fathered the child.

Elizabeth Edwards posted a statement Friday on the internet, blaming her husband’s affair on “human weakness” and the public disclosure of the matter on “sensationalism and profit without any regard for the human consequences.”

She said that the last two years had not been easy, “but we has stood with one another.”

“Although John believes he should stand alone and take the consequences of his action now, when the door closes behind him, he has his family waiting for him,” she said.

“This was our private matter, and I frankly wanted it to be private because as painful as it was I did not want to have to play it out on a public stage as well. … Admitting one’s mistakes is a hard thing for anyone to do, and I am proud of the courage John showed by his honesty in the face of shame.”

She appealed for privacy for her family.

John Edwards ended his campaign for the Democratic nomination in February.

His one-time rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, as first lady endured the publicised affair with an intern by her husband, president Bill Clinton. At an event in Las Vegas, Nevada, she said: “My thoughts and prayers are with the Edwards family, and that’s all I have to say.”

Republican presidential candidate John McCain refused to comment.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama called it a “personal matter” for the Edwards family.

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