Elizabeth Edwards Exposing and Defending Husband
Elizabeth Edwards insisted today that her new book about her husband's infidelity was not intended to punish him and defended John Edwards against a federal inquiry into whether he misused campaign funds to pay off his mistress.
"We have complete confidence that the funds were not used improperly," Edwards said on CNN's Larry King Live," according to the official transcript of an interview set to air Tuesday night.
Asked whether her personal disclosures in "Resilience" amount to a form of punishment of her husband, she replied, "No. I don't think anybody who actually reads the book would feel like it is."
But as Edwards reemerges in the spotlight with her book publicity tour, she's coming under intense scrutiny by journalists and political observers for her motives in doing so.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, for example, this week accused Edwards of giving the world "a gratuitous peek" into her family's lives, "one that exposes her kids, by peddling more dregs about their personal family life in a book, and exposes the ex-girlfriend who's now trying to raise the baby girl, a dead ringer for John Edwards, in South Orange, N.J."
Edwards told King on his show that her children know everything.
"My children know what happened," she said. "And if they didn't know what happened, they would, as they use the Internet, they'd be able to find those things."
She defended herself against criticism that she exploited her children with the book, saying, "I hope, in fact, a gift to them to tell them that when things happen that you don't want to have happen in your life, you can get through them. I may not be there to say that. This book tells -- reminds them of that."
Asked why she doesn't divorce her husband, the two-time (and almost certainly former forever) Democratic presidential candidate, she said, "He has provided for us. He has -- you know, his fathering has been nearly perfect. His caring for me, with this really big painful exception, has been extraordinary, through Wade's death, through the cancer."
Remaining consistent, Edwards, on Larry King's show, does not utter the name Rielle Hunter - her husband's campaign mistress, whose baby John Edwards denies fathering. (Nor does she mention Hunter by name in her book.)
She recalls the first time she found out about the affair (which was in late December of 2006, though Edwards didn't mention the date during the interview): "It was the first time I had ever seen her. I didn't honestly know that the videographer was a female. I mean, this is -- I was completely in the dark."
She added, "The one thing I can agree with Maureen Dowd is that I was probably naive."
Edwards says she has forgiven her husband, that "my forgiving him has allowed me to let go of a lot of the pain I was carrying around with me every day."
While Mrs. Edwards is taking plenty of heat for writing her tell-all book, her hometown paper, the Raleigh News & Observer, says she remains popular in the Tar Heel state. Though perhaps only by virtue of her husband being so unpopular.
The paper cites a new survey that shows only 19 percent of North Carolinians have a favorable opinion of John Edwards, compared to 58 percent who view Elizabeth favorably.
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