SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Coming up, assessing the McCain and Obama economic plans. But first, John Edwards says that his Lord and his wife have forgiven him, and he's ready to, quote, "move on." The former Democratic presidential and vice presidential candidate admitted yesterday he'd conducted an affair two years ago with a woman who worked on his campaign. But Mr. Edwards denied tabloid allegations that he fathered the woman's child. The revelation has disappointed many of Mr. Edwards' supporters, and put his political future in some doubt. NPR's Adam Hochberg reports.

ADAM HOCHBERG: John Edwards, of course, is by no means the first politician to admit to an affair. But for Edwards, it's especially at odds with his public image. More than almost any other politician on the national stage, Edwards' persona was built around his family. His wife Elizabeth and her very public battle with cancer, his two youngest children who traveled with him on his campaign bus. Last night, on the ABC News program "Nightline," Edwards admitted he hasn't been loyal to them.

(Soundbite of TV show "Nightline")

Former Senator JOHN EDWARDS (Democrat, North Carolina): I made a very serious mistake, a mistake that I'm responsible for, and no one else.

HOCHBERG: Edwards confessed to a 2006 affair with Rielle Hunter, who produced videos for his presidential campaign. He said the relationship was short. He called it a product of his egotism and narcissism, and he says he told Elizabeth about it after it happened.

(Soundbite of TV show "Nightline")

Former Senator EDWARDS: She was mad. She was angry, and I think furious would be a good way to describe it. And it was painful for her. But she responded exactly like the kind of woman she is, and then she forgave me, and we went to work on it.

HOCHBERG: Allegations of the affair first came to light through a series of tawdry stories that began appearing last year in the National Enquirer. Several times Edwards denied them and called them tabloid trash. Not until yesterday did he concede they were at least partly true. Still, the former senator denies the Enquirer's most prominent allegation, that he fathered Hunter's five-month-old daughter. Another man, one of Edwards' former campaign officials, has claimed to be the real father. And Edwards says his own relationship with Hunter was over long before the child was conceived.

(Soundbite of TV show "Nightline")

Former Senator EDWARDS: I know that it's not possible that this child could be mine because of the timing of events. So, I know it's not possible. Happy to take a paternity test, and would love to see it happen.

(Soundbite of conversation)

Unidentified Man: Glad to have you.

Former Senator EDWARDS: Good to be here. Thank you.

Unidentified Man: Welcome.

HOCHBERG: Rielle Hunter was just getting started in the filmmaking business when the Edwards campaign paid her more than 100,000 dollars to produce these Internet videos, which includes footage of Edwards on his campaign plane, and excerpts from his public speeches.

(Soundbite of speech)

Former Senator EDWARDS: And I want to see our party lead on the great moral issues. Yes, me, a Democrat is using that word. The great moral issues that face our country.

HOCHBERG: In a statement released after he recorded the ABC interview, Edwards wrote that it's inadequate to say he's sorry to people who believed in him. But last night, some of those people weren't in much of a mood for apologies anyway. Former Congressman David Bonior managed Edwards' campaign, and said he considers the affair and the false denials a personal betrayal to people who worked to make Edwards president.

(Soundbite of interview)

Former Representative DAVID BONIOR (Democrat, Michigan): I gave up 15 months of my life to do this as a volunteer, and there were hundreds and hundreds of people like me out there who did that. And I can speak I think for a lot of folks who are just very, very angry and disappointed.

HOCHBERG: Others who worked on Edwards' campaigns were more forgiving. South Carolina State Senator John Land says Edwards has done nothing worse than many other officeholders, and Land says Edwards still has a lot of defenders in his native state.

(Soundbite of interview)

State Senator JOHN LAND (Democrat, South Carolina): I'd have to say I'm greatly disappointed in John Edwards. However, that has nothing to do with the issues that caused me to support him, and I guess I go back to the biblical statement that the ones free of sin cast the first stone.

HOCHBERG: Edwards deflected questions about his future political career. After two unsuccessful presidential campaigns, he said he's not sure he wanted to stay in politics anyway. But analysts said the revelations about Edwards' personal life likely have closed the door on elective office, at least for the next several years. University of Iowa professor Bruce Gronbeck writes on the subject of character in politics.

(Soundbite of interview)

Dr. BRUCE GRONBECK (Communication Studies, University of Iowa): I can't think of a politician who hasn't gotten into trouble when they mix sex and politics. And when you add in then a man who is abandoning his wife in serious health difficulties, it's going to be vicious.

HOCHBERG: Before yesterday, many pundits had predicted Edwards would play a prominent role in a Barack Obama presidential administration, perhaps as attorney general, or as a special adviser on issues affecting the poor. Yesterday, Obama praised Edwards as a champion of working people, and said the Edwards family needs to work through the process of healing. But in a sign of Edwards' falling prominence within his party, Obama said neither John nor Elizabeth Edwards is likely to attend the Democratic National Convention this month. Adam Hochberg, NPR News, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

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