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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.

Elizabeth Edwards continues her book publicity tour on CNN's "Larry King Live"

"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.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  May 12, 2009; 7:40 PM ET
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I still can't understand the purpose of this book. The family has plenty of money from Silky Pony's lawering days. She used to earn a pretty penny herself.

Is she just bored sitting around the house? Does ANYONE have any pride any more, or any desire to shield the children from the glare of the media? She makes me ill.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | May 12, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

I think the book was contracted for and begun before all this happened. It was supposed to be an inspiring cancer survivor book, with other difficulties of life, such as the tragedy of her son's death, included as well. Given that it already existed, I can understand continuing with the project. Otherwise she would feel her husband stole the book from her too.

But in hindsight, it would have been so much better and more dignified not to add a discussion of her husband's affair and her reaction. I know she's a baby boomer, but honestly, sometimes less is more! Too much information.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | May 12, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

I have great sympathy for her struggle with cancer and the jerk of a husband she has. I don't care that she chooses to stay with him.

But what I think is a total disgrace is their efforts to deny the poor kid, who she refers to as "it", her rightful parentage. Everyone knows it's his kid and their denials are as pathetic as Rielle's.

Posted by: sasha_206 | May 12, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Eventually, Elizabeth and John will fade from our memories, regardless of what she has done and/or accomplished by going public.

Posted by: zen99 | May 12, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

I remember a night in New Hampshire, our motorhome parked in the back lot of an old church/ community center, John Edwards delivering his stump speech; questions from the locals... Just another day on the road, for both of us, but we would bicycle a beautiful gap the next day, ripe with color and autumn scents, take photos, have a picnic. John, he went on to another half-dozen town meetings, gave his stump speech another half-dozen times... It's no excuse, but ambition always seems to have a price. Sometimes it's a high price, sometimes it's just plain boring.

Posted by: brogers644 | May 12, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Perfect fathering!


Setting a terrible example for your kids is worse fathering than I can think of an example for.

That being said, if I were Elizabeth Edwards, I would probably stay. But ONLY because of the cancer and my kids. Otherwise, I would have been gone a year ago.

Posted by: HoCoTerp01 | May 12, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

I wonder whether John would stay with & still love Elizabeth if she had become pregnant by another man who was her lover, & had then lied to him about the paternity of her child?
Do you believe John's ego could endure this public insult? I doubt it.

Posted by: arussell91 | May 13, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Who wrote the book on how you MUST deal with the culmination of agonies of losing a son, having incurable cancer, and finding out your husband has cheated on you (and perhaps fathered a child out of wedlock)--all in the public eye? Until there are such guidelines from an ALL KNOWING ORACLE, neither Maureen Dowd, nor anyone else needs to tell Elizabeth Edwards how to grieve or cope with the critical issues in her life. So, she shouldn't write a book because it further opens her children to...what? They've surely heard everyone else's take on their parent's personal tragedies--some true, some not--anyhow. Perhaps having their mother's account in print will provide them some balance in innocent lives that have surely been thrown off in the cruelist of ways and salve wounds that--despite press conjecture to the contrary--probably will never close without complete examination by the one true person they still trust. Perhaps not. I'm sure Ms. Edwards knew she would meet criticism for writing the book and that voracious vultures of virtue who live such perfect lives themselves would pick it apart; she decided to do it anyway, because she needed to. Not for my sake, but for her own.

Posted by: persugram | May 13, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

I think that Elizabeth Edwards is a person to be admired.....if she chooses to forgive her husband, it is none of my business. She has a difficult life with her illness and her husband's problem but this is not her problem, it is his. My best guess is that she is trying to make her children's lives less difficult and for that, I give her all the credit in the world.

Posted by: gilbertpb40 | May 13, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Special thanks to persugram especially for excellent observations.

Posted by: timcarlton | May 13, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

it is difficult to judge the myriad of women who find reasons to stay with husbands with a variety of moral flaws. I would not judge them. i would not stay with a man who violates promises and has a long relationship with another woman. I doubt if i am /was the perfect mother and wife but to go through that instead of walking out in quiet dignity or what one hopes will be quiet dignity is a choice i have trouble understanding. faced with that choice years ago i chose silence and a new life. the children are always hurt but my children know i love them,am not bitter or tragic, and i never said a word. silence speaks.

Posted by: mclaire12 | May 13, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Her son died at 16 in a car accident, she has terminal cancer, and her husband had an affair and possibly has a child from that affair. None of us has a story this tragic. I am glad she wrote this book. It took courage. I am not in a place to judge. Neither is anyone else. We seem to want to overlook the obvious by trivializing the meaning of her life. Uncomfortable with our own mortality we lash out at the messenger, never stopping to hear the message. The real story here is the inability of Elizabeth Edwards' critics to face tough issues such as death of a child, our own vulnerability to cancer ending our life too soon or a spouse or partner cheating on us. Don't shoot the messenger, especially if they are already dying. Shame on us all for missing the point. We continue to deny that "There but for the grace of God, go I." Or, worse yet, "There go I."

Posted by: mshughes | May 13, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Mrs Edwards,despite her tragedies stood by
her husband during his run for president
portraying her husband as a good and faithful father and husband,all the time knowing about the affair.
She also would have said nothing had he won the presidency and she was first lady
The money scandal will prove to be the real deal and the child is his.
It is sad that people will do anything to
get and keep power - throwing all morality
out the window while portraying themselves as solid moral people.
We joke about politicians all being liars
and the cynicism this evokes only allows them to lie to get their way and feel no
remorse for the lies they tell.
Reagan(contras);BushI(no new taxes);
Clinton(Lewinski);BushII(WMD in Iraq);
Obama(change in Washington).
This is not new nor will it change until the people revolt!!!

Posted by: jrregimbal | May 14, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Who knows why she wrote this book and who really cares. She probably doesn't know why she did. It was probably her only way she felt she could really vent her anger. She will probably have regrets by adding that to her book. She has gone through quite a lot and nothing can top losing a child. A philandering husband is nothing compared to that.

Posted by: kneec7773537 | May 15, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I know she is mad at her husband. Watch Funny Videos

Posted by: roverfind | May 15, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

since when do we blame a victim for there spouses behavior ?She has the right to vent in public if she so pleases.If she was silent all you right wingnut freaks would accuse her of being some"stand by your man " doormat.This woman took a stand ,and with all the unspeakable pain both mental and physical ,she has had to endure visa ve cancer and a philandering freak of a husband,not mention the loss of a child, no one has the right to be critical of this brave woman.

Posted by: dhsobel | May 17, 2009 3:36 AM | Report abuse

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