Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards admitted Friday to an extramarital affair that he said ended in 2006. But he denied that he could be the father of a child born to the woman in question.
Reports of the affair and allegations that Edwards fathered a child with Rielle Hunter, 42, were first reported by the National Enquirer.
Edwards had campaigned vigorously for the Democratic nomination for president with the help of his wife, Elizabeth, who has waged a much-publicized battle with breast cancer. He said Elizabeth Edwards' cancer was in remission at the time of the affair with Hunter. He said he told his wife and family of the affair in 2006.
Late Friday, Elizabeth Edwards said that after what she called a "long and painful process," his family is supporting him.
In a statement provided to The Associated Press, Edwards called her husband's affair a "terrible mistake." But she says the healing process was "oddly made somewhat easier" after her diagnosis of breast cancer in March 2007.
She said she was proud of the courage her husband showed despite his shame. She said her family has been through a lot and pleaded for privacy.
Edwards had initially dismissed the reports as "tabloid trash," but on an interview to be aired on ABC's Nightline, the former U.S. senator from North Carolina acknowledged the affair with Hunter, who did video work for Edwards' presidential campaign. He denied fathering the baby girl, however. A former campaign aide for Edwards has said he is the father of the child.
In a statement released Friday, Edwards said, "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."
He added: "I was and am ashamed of my conduct and choices. With my family, I took responsibility for my actions in 2006, and today I take full responsibility publicly."
NPR's David Folkenflik tells Melissa Block, host of All Things Considered, that he finds Edwards' statement "fascinating."
"He's trying to in some ways to navigate this delicate point, which is that, of course, it seems that he betrayed a woman who herself was terribly, terribly sick," Folkenflik says.
Edwards was the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004, and NPR blogger Evie Stone says, "It's safe to say this revelation ruins any chance of Edwards being selected as Barack Obama's running mate" for the 2008 election. Edwards, who was John Kerry's running mate in the 2004 presidential race, recently endorsed Obama for president.
From NPR and The Associated Press