Edwards admits affair as wife battled cancer

Putting an end at last to months of rumour, John Edwards, the 2004 and 2008 Democratic Presidential contender, admitted yesterday he had had an affair with a campaign worker while he was running for the White House and while his wife was suffering from incurable cancer.

Mr Edwards however denied he was the father of her child, as alleged by The National Enquirer, the supermarket tabloid that first broke the story 10 months ago. But he admitted in an interview with ABC News that he had lied repeatedly about his relationship with Rielle Hunter, a 42-year-old filmmaker who was taken on in 2006 to produce documentaries about the campaign. The former candidate insisted he did not love Ms Hunter, and the affair had taken place while his wife Elizabeth's cancer was in remission.

The scandal will put pay to any suggestion that Mr Edwards might still be under consideration by Barack Obama to be his vice-presidential running mate – as he was for the party's 2004 nominee John Kerry. It also makes it inconceivable that the former North Carolina senator will be offered any significant post in an Obama administration, and casts his political future in doubt.

Under normal circumstances, Mr Edwards who came second in the Iowa caucuses which kicked off the primary season in January, would have been offered a prominent speaking role at the Democratic convention in Denver later this month. Even that must be in doubt.

Long ignored by the country's main media outlets, the scandal in the last fortnight became impossible to contain, after the Enquirer reported in late July that Mr Edwards had spent five hours with Ms Hunter in a hotel room at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles – catching him as he was leaving at 2.45am – and then a few days published a blurred and grainy photo purporting to show the former senator in the hotel room with his love child Frances Quinn Hunter.

At that point Mr Edwards' earlier denials of the story as "tabloid trash" became untenable, and senior Democrats pressed him to come clean, to avoid the risk of an exploding scandal stealing Mr Obama's convention thunder. Yesterday he did so, in an interview with ABC News – timed in all probability to coincide with the start of the Olympics.

Most wrenching – indeed tragic – of all is the personal dimension of the story. Ms Edwards, popular and much admired for her courage in facing her cancer, was a major part of her husband's campaign. He in turn professed his adoration for her at every turn. Having made much in his campaign on the gap between "The Two Americas", rich and poor, he is bound to face charges of hypocrisy. "Now, it seems, there are two John Edwards," one Democratic analyst tartly commented. But big questions remain. In the first place no father is identified on the birth certificate of the five-month-old Frances Quinn – even though Andrew Young, a former Edwards aide, has claimed he was the father. This in turn raises the issue of whether the Edwards camp staged an elaborate and brazen cover-up. The Enquirer has reported that up to $35,000 a month was being channelled to Mr Young and Ms Hunter to maintain a cover-up and keep a lid on the scandal.

Moreover, if the affair was indeed long over and if he was not the father of the child, why did he visit Ms Hunter in the Los Angeles hotel last month and spent five hours with her until 2.45 a.m? National Enquirer reporters intercepted him as he was leaving, and he fled into a restroom to escape them. And why, if he is not the father, has he not undergone a paternity test which would resolve the issue very quickly?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power