- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 10, 2008

The ex-mistress of former presidential candidate John Edwards says she will not participate in DNA testing to establish the paternity of her daughter.

Rielle Hunter’s lawyer, Robert Gordon, on Saturday said his client is a private individual who wishes to maintain the privacy of herself and her daughter.

Mr. Gordon said that Ms. Hunter is ruling out any kind of testing that could establish who the girl’s father is.

On Friday, Mr. Edwards admitted to having an extramarital affair with Ms. Hunter in 2006, but denied he was the father of Ms. Hunter’s 5-month-old daughter. Mr. Edwards said he would take a paternity test to prove he is not the father.

Ms. Hunter’s daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, was born Feb. 27. No father’s name was given on the birth certificate, filed in California.

A former Edwards campaign staff member professes to be the father.

Mr. Edwards’ confession has left supporters feeling betrayed.

Backed by his friendly Southern drawl, the practiced charm of a courtroom warrior and a smile bright enough to blind the camera’s eye, Mr. Edwards never lacked the confidence to take the big risk.

He risked in the courtroom, making millions as a trial lawyer by winning cases for underdog clients. He gambled as a political rookie, successfully challenging a Senate incumbent in his first run for public office. He took a chance while a member of that most exclusive club, leaving after a single term to run for the White House.

So why not one more risk? Why not run again for president, this time while carrying on an extramarital affair that could easily sink his campaign?

“The first time he kissed her, he should have been thinking, ‘Goodbye to my political career,’ ” said Jon Krosnick, a professor of political science and psychology at Stanford University. But candidates such as Mr. Edwards “feel invulnerable, that they feel it has gone on all of the time, that I’m not going to be scrutinized at this level … and it will stay private.”

It took nearly a year for the tabloid accusations, which Mr. Edwards was quick to dismiss and his supporters were quick to ignore, for the former North Carolina senator to admit Friday to having an affair in 2006 with a woman who produced a handful of videos for his campaign.

In doing so, Mr. Edwards admitted he was seduced by his own success and the lavish attention and praise that came with his meteoric rise from his roots in Raleigh as a successful but relatively unknown personal injury attorney.

Just two years after his 1998 Senate victory, he was on Al Gore’s short list for vice president. After losing his own bid for the 2004 Democratic nomination, he bounced back by winning a spot as Sen. John Kerry’s running mate on the party’s ticket. Running again last year, he entered the race as one of the three favorites on the Democratic side.

Mr. Edwards was expected to speak in prime time later this month at the Democratic National Convention, ready to emerge as a candidate for a Cabinet post in a possible Obama administration. That’s all gone now, said Dennis Wicker, a Democrat who was North Carolina’s lieutenant governor from 1993 to 2001.

“His credibility is shot. His political career is over,” Mr. Wicker said. “I don’t know what causes one to cross a bright line like this one, but it’s probably going to haunt him for the rest of his life - it’s colossal.”

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