- The Washington Times - Friday, August 8, 2008

Updated:

John Edwards (Politician)” href=”/themes/?Theme=John+Edwards+(Politician)” >John Edwards admitted Friday he did have an affair during his presidential campaign and repeatedly lied about it as he was seeking the White House.

“I had hoped it would never become public,” Mr. Edwards said in a statement. (To read the text of the statement, click here.) The former trial lawyer said he felt able to lie about the affair because the National Enquirer didn’t get some details exactly right in its first story last year exposing the affair.

“If you want to beat me up — feel free. You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself,” he said, adding that he became “narcissistic” during his several presidential campaigns.

The affair was first reported by ABC, which interviewed him for its “Nightline” program scheduled to run Friday night. ABC said Mr. Edwards stressed that he began the affair while his wife’s cancer was in remission and that he didn’t love the woman.

The two-time Democratic presidential candidate and his party’s 2004 vice presidential nominee told ABC he began an affair in 2006 with Rielle Hunter and put her on his campaign payroll.

He denied he is the father of her 5-month-old girl, saying the timing didn’t coincide with the affair, which he said ended too early. The ABC interview appears to validate a story that the National Enquirer ran last month that documented a visit Mr. Edwards made to the woman’s hotel room in California, though Mr. Edwards did not address that in his statement.

The former one-term senator from North Carolina repeatedly denied the accusations on the campaign trail.

“The story is false. It’s completely untrue, ridiculous,” Mr. Edwards told reporters in October after the Enquirer first reported on the affair.

“I’ve been in love with the same woman for 30-plus years,” Mr. Edwards said, referring to his wife, Elizabeth, “and as anybody who’s been around us knows, she’s an extraordinary human being, warm, loving, beautiful, sexy and as good a person as I have ever known. So the story’s just false.”

Last month Mr. Edwards called the July Enquirer article tracking him at the woman’s hotel “trash.”

Political experts said the admission takes him out of the running to be Barack Obama” href=”/themes/?Theme=Barack+Obama” >Sen. Barack Obama’s vice presidential nominee, and likely derails his political career. It also makes it unlikely he will be able to attend the Democrats’ presidential nominating convention in Denver later this month.

Just this week Mr. Obama took care of another potential distraction at the convention, offering former President Bill Clinton a Wednesday-night speaking slot.

Separately, Vice President Dick Cheney’s office confirmed Friday morning he will address the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Mr. Obama told reporters flying with him to Chicago on Thursday he had spoken separately with Mr. Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, this week about arrangements for the convention, which kicks off on Aug. 25.

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