State News

Edwards mistress didn't want him to run for president

Posted March 15, 2010 7:59 a.m. EDT
Updated March 15, 2010 3:25 p.m. EDT

— John Edwards' mistress Rielle Hunter didn't want him to run for president and considered it "reckless" for him to stay in the race after his wife's cancer returned, she said in an interview released Monday.

Hunter, in her first interview since Edwards admitted to the affair in 2008, told GQ magazine she and the former U.S. senator from North Carolina have been in love from February 2006 until now.

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.

"I don't really believe he was a politician," Hunter said. "I believe his ego and ambition drove him to that field. I believe he's more aligned with being a humanitarian."

Elizabeth Edwards' cancer returned in March of that year. Hunter said John Edwards wanted to exit the race but that Elizabeth Edwards wanted to stay in.

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

"Most of his mistakes or errors in judgment were because of his fear of the wrath of Elizabeth," she continued. "He's allowed himself to be pushed into a lot of things that he wouldn't normally do because of Elizabeth's story line."

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

Edwards hired Hunter to work as a campaign videographer in 2006 as he plotted his second run for president. The former North Carolina senator's political action committee paid her video production firm more than $100,000.

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

The late Fred Baron, who was Edwards' campaign finance chief, paid Hunter to move to California while she was pregnant and also paid to relocate Young and his family, since he claimed publicly at the time that he was the baby's father.

"I was not aware of how much money Andrew was receiving," Hunter said in the interview. "When I became aware, in May '08, of how much Fred was sending him, I wanted to have nothing to do with Andrew anymore because I felt that i was being used for (Young) to pocket money, and I wanted no part of it."

Hunter said the grand jury questioned her about Young and about her relationship with Edwards, who she refers to as "Johnny."

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

After several hearings held over a five-week period, a judge on Friday declined to jail Young for contempt of court. Hunter's attorneys maintain that he still has copies of photos depicting Hunter, Edwards and their daughter.

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

Hunter recalled the first night she met Edwards in New York, saying she knew 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 said.

Hunter said Young later volunteered to publicly claim paternity of her child to divert the media's attention from Edwards. Young has said Edwards hatched the scheme.

"The first time Andrew said it, I was on the phone with Johnny, and Johnny was screaming at me about the National Enquirer finding me and photographing me," Hunter said in the interview. "He was screaming at me that day, and Andrew suggested (that he claim paternity), right then and there."