He called the rumors "tabloid trash," but now John Edwards has admitted to having an extramarital affair. The former presidential candidate told ABC News today that he did have an affair with 42-year-old Rielle Hunter, but that the timing of the affair precludes him being the father of Francis Quinn, although he says he hasn't taken a paternity test -- and a former campaign claims to be the father.
In early 2007, Hunter told "Extra" she met the former Senator in a NYC bar and later produced a series of campaign Internet videos for him. While Hunter denied they were having an affair at the time, calling reports "completely unfounded and ridiculous," Edwards now admits that's when the affair began.
"I was around him a lot," she told "Extra" at the time. "We went to Africa. The whole experience was life altering for me."
Edwards said his family found out in 2006 -- but he swears his wife Elizabeth's cancer was in remission when he began his affair. Elizabeth has been diagnosed with an incurable form of breast cancer.
Edwards even acknowledges the National Enquirer's report that he visited Hunter in a Beverly Hills hotel last month. While he denies paying her hush money, he says it's possible some of his friends or supporters may have paid Hunter without his knowledge.
Late this afternoon, Edwards issued the following statement:
STATEMENT OF SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS
August 8, 2008
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
In 2006, I made a serious error in judgment and conducted myself in a way that was disloyal to my family and to my core beliefs. I recognized my mistake and I told my wife that I had a liaison with another woman, and I asked for her forgiveness. Although I was honest in every painful detail with my family, I did not tell the public. When a supermarket tabloid told a version of the story, I used the fact that the story contained many falsities to deny it. But being 99% honest is no longer enough.
I was and am ashamed of my conduct and choices, and I had hoped that it would never become public. With my family, I took responsibility for my actions in 2006 and today I take full responsibility publicly. But that misconduct took place for a short period in 2006. It ended then. I am and have been willing to take any test necessary to establish the fact that I am not the father of any baby, and I am truly hopeful that a test will be done so this fact can be definitively established. I only know that the apparent father has said publicly that he is the father of the baby. I also have not been engaged in any activity of any description that requested, agreed to or supported payments of any kind to the woman or to the apparent father of the baby.
It is inadequate to say to the people who believed in me that I am sorry, as it is inadequate to say to the people who love me that I am sorry. In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic. If you want to beat me up - feel free. You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself. I have been stripped bare and will now work with everything I have to help my family and others who need my help.
I have given a complete interview on this matter and having done so, will have nothing more to say.