- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The mistress of former presidential candidate John Edwards said she is helping him live “a life of truth” and the two remain in love even after their affair helped trigger his downfall from the pinnacle of U.S. politics.

“Everyone talks about how Johnny has fallen from grace,” Rielle Hunter told GQ magazine in an interview released Monday. “In reality, he’s fallen to grace.”

In her first public comments since she became known as Mr. Edwards’ other woman in 2008, Ms. Hunter didn’t provide any details of their current status but said Mr. Edwards is a great father who wants to be there full time for their daughter, now 2.

“I know he loves me. I have never had any doubt at all about that,” Ms. Hunter said. “We love each other very much. And that hasn’t changed, and I believe that will be till death do us part.”

Ms. Hunter also posed for photos for GQ that show her on a bed, barelegged in a man’s white dress shirt and a pearl necklace. In another shot, she’s laying on her back holding her daughter in her arms.

She said she and the former North Carolina senator and Democratic vice-presidential candidate had an immediate connection when they met at a New York City hotel in 2006, and she said she knew then that she was a special person to him.

“He in fact did say to me the first night, ‘Falling in love with you could really (expletive) up my plans for becoming president,’ ” she recalled.

Ms. Hunter said she told him he shouldn’t run for the White House and suggested he at least wait until April 2007, because her intuition and astrology suggested he would have a difficult first three months of the year. The cancer of Elizabeth Edwards - Mr. Edwards’ wife - returned in March of that year. Ms. Hunter said Mr. Edwards wanted to exit the race but that Mrs. Edwards wanted him to stay in.

“And my surprise was that they stayed in the race,” Ms. Hunter said. “I was shocked. I really viewed it as reckless.”

Ms. Hunter said the Edwards’ marriage was already in shambles before their romance, declaring, “I was not the home wrecker.” She said people were wrong to believe Mr. Edwards had fallen because of the affair and its revelation.

Instead, “I think that he thinks that he is a much wiser and a much better and a more truthful and a more integrated human being,” she said.

John and Elizabeth Edwards are now separated. Ms. Hunter said the affair ended in July 2008 and that the relationship is now something “different.”

Mr. Edwards hired Ms. Hunter to work as a campaign videographer in 2006 as he plotted his second run for president. The one-time trial lawyer’s political action committee paid her video production firm more than $100,000.

Federal investigators have been looking into Mr. Edwards’ campaign finances, with former aide Andrew Young saying a grand jury questioned him for hours about the large sums of money that changed hands during the period that he helped cover up the affair.

Ms. Hunter said the grand jury questioned her about Mr. Young and about her relationship with the candidate.

“They asked a lot of questions about the sex tape,” she said. Ms. Hunter has sued Mr. Young for invasion of privacy, seeking the return of a videotape that he describes as Mr. Edwards and Ms. Hunter in a sexual encounter.

Mr. Young said in a statement Monday that he has a lot of empathy for what Ms. Hunter is going through.

“I hope she and Johnny and Elizabeth and their families can find happiness so that we all can move on with our lives,” he said.

An attorney for Ms. Hunter declined to comment, and a spokeswoman for John Edwards said he would not comment. An attorney for Elizabeth Edwards did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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