John Edwards says he fathered child in affair

Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards finally came forward today to admit that he fathered a child with a woman that he hired before his second White House bid.

Edwards, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina and 2004 vice presidential candidate, confirmed this in a statement released to The Associated Press, after initially denying that he'd fathered a child during his affair with videographer Rielle Hunter.

"I am Quinn's father," the former senator declared in his statement, as the second birthday of Frances Quinn Hunter approaches. He vowed to do "everything in my power" to support her.

"It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter and hopefully one day, when she understands, she will forgive me," he said.

A former Edwards aide, Andrew Young, initially had claimed paternity of the child. Young is scheduled to release a book on Feb. 2 that details the scandal.

Frances was born Feb. 27, 2008, indicating that she was conceived in the middle of 2007, several months after Hunter stopped working for Edwards in the early stages of the battle for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Edwards dropped out of the presidential race on Jan. 30, 2008, after poor showings in early primaries. He admitted the affair in August 2008 but denied he was the father of the child until now. He claimed the affair ended in 2006.

He acknowledged in May that federal investigators were looking into how he used campaign funds. Both Young and Hunter — with her child — have made appearances at a federal courthouse in Raleigh, North Carolina, but the U.S. prosecutor's office there has declined to confirm or deny an investigation.

Edwards' wife of more than 30 years, Elizabeth, has been battling incurable cancer since March 2007. She has stood by her husband despite the affair. She has said that it does not matter to her whether her husband fathered a child with Hunter, saying, "that would be a part of John's life, but not a part of mine."

Harrison Hickman, Edwards' longtime political adviser, called the situation "a lot more complicated than people think."

"Elizabeth thinks that he should acknowledge this," Hickman said in an interview broadcast on NBC's "Today" show. He said it "has been a very difficult time for everyone ... but especially for Elizabeth."

Edwards, a successful attorney, won election to the Senate from North Carolina in 1998 but served only one six-year term. In 2004, he made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, then was chosen as the vice presidential running mate by the nominee, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry. President George W. Bush beat them that November, winning a second term.