April 29, 2010 -- Rielle Hunter denied today she is a "home wrecker" whose illicit affair and illegitimate child with John Edwards played a pivotal role in the breakdown of the former presidential candidate's marriage to his cancer stricken wife.
"You can't steal someone else's husband," she said. "[People are] not property."
Hunter said she still loves Edwards, who she repeatedly referred to as Johnny. When asked if Edwards loves her, she said, "It's my experience that he loves me."
But she rebuffed Winfrey's questions about the status of their relationship. "That's private," she said with a slight laugh.
Hunter added, "I'm not sure I want to get married ever. I don't need marriage to define who I am."
After the affair became public, Edwards' presidential ambitions were destroyed, his cancer stricken wife Elizabeth had publicly castigated Hunter, and a former Edwards aide told the world about a sex tape Hunter and Edwards made together.
Nevertheless, Hunter said she has no regrets.
"I don't regret it. I wouldn't repeat it, but I learned a lot," she said.
But if she has no regrets, she said allowing Edwards' aide Andrew Young to claim paternity of the daughter she had with Edwards, failing to destroy the sex tape, and posing pantsless in GQ last month were "mistakes."
One thing Hunter claims she doesn't know is whether she hurt Elizabeth Edwards, telling Winfrey, "I don't know."
Hunter said she knew Edwards was married when she told the Democratic contender that he was "hot," and went to his New York City hotel room later that same night.
"I did know that he was married, but I didn't know what their marriage was like," she said.
Hunter suggested that the state of Edwards' marriage to his wife Elizabeth shares much of the blame for her affair and the breakdown of the Edwards marriage.
"People bought into the myth of the marriage," Hunter said. "[There is an idea that their marriage] was a storybook and is so perfect and so wonderful and I destroyed it."
Rielle Hunter on Her Affair With John Edwards
Elizabeth Edwards, Hunters said, first learned of the affair when Edwards' wife called the number on a phone he used only to speak to Hunter.
"I said, 'Hey, baby,' and she hung up," Hunter said.
Hunter, who has since given birth to a baby girl named Frances Quinn, also told Winfrey that neither of them used birth control during their torrid affair.
When Edwards found out she was pregnant he never asked her to get an abortion and was "gracious," but when he feared the pregnancy might become public he became angry and agreed to a plan to have his close aide Andrew Young claim to be the baby's father.
"I wouldn't say he was fully supportive," she said of Edwards who called her up to yell at her after a tabloid photogrpaher snapped her looking pregnant. "He had a lot of issues with the timing. He was married, he's running for the presidency."
Hunter said agreeing to the Young paternity claim was "My biggest regret. My biggest mistake."
Under often skeptical questioning by Winfrey, Hunter said she had doubts at times whether they should continue the affair, but said their love was overpowering.
At one point Hunter said, "The power of love does override," and later said, "Our hearts were louder than the mind."
But Edwards did not fully come clean to his wife until a 2008 interview with ABC News, when Edwards admitted to the affair, but denied he had fathered a child with Hunter. Earlier this year, Edwards admitted that Hunter's daughter was his.
"Everyone who was close to, well, who knew all the facts and knew the truth said, 'Please, don't do that interview. Please don't do that interview,'" Hunter told Winfrey about Edwards' revelatory sit-down with ABC News' Bob Woodruff.
"[Elizabeth Edwards] really wanted him to do that interview," said Hunter, a one-time videographer for Edwards' presidential campaign. "She wanted him to say, 'You know, you've got to get out in front of it. You've got to, you know, say the truth and speak the truth,'" Hunter said.
But at the time Elizabeth did not really know what the truth was, Hunter said.
"And she didn't know the truth. So it's like you can't do the interview and not speak the whole truth," Hunter told Winfrey.
"She didn't know until after the interview. He came clean with her after that interview."
Winfrey said Hunter decided to be interviewed because she felt she had been portrayed poorly and wanted to tell her side of the story.
The John Edwards Sex Tape
Hunter admitted to making a sex tape with Edwards, but said she believed she had destroyed it by cutting the tape and hiding it with her personal possessions.
"I don't think there was a lot of thought going on I the heat of the moment behind closed doors. It was private and I believe it should remain private," she said. "I took an action to destroy the tape and kept it in my personal belongings. I cut it and pulled it out of the casing... I didn't think people were going to go through my personal belongings."
Hunter has since gone to court to get a restraining order against Young from distributing the tape, she claims he stole.
In her first interview, Hunter posed for pictures in GQ magazine wearing only a man's button-down, white shirt, a string of pearls and panties. She posed on a bed with stuffed animals piled around her in some of the photos. Her panties are exposed in one frame.
Edwards' mistress said that she thought the photo spread in GQ would include headshots as well and not just sexy, body-baring photos.
Following the magazine's publication, Hunter denied knowing that the photos would be used in the spread, but she told Winfrey she wanted at least one shot that was "sexy" where she "wasn't' looking like the wicked witch of the west."
She said it was a mistake she won't repeat. Even Edwards was surprised when he saw the pictures, Hunter said. She told Winfrey his reaction when he saw the photo spread was, "Where are your pants?"