Elizabeth Edwards Scorns Her Husband's Mistress

Elizabeth Edwards won't even say Rielle Hunter's name in Oprah interview.

ByABC News
May 7, 2009, 7:09 AM

May 7, 2009 — -- Elizabeth Edwards showed contempt today for the woman she claimed seduced her husband, John Edwards, saying, "There is no excuse for women to do this."

In a sitdown with Oprah Winfrey, Elizabeth Edwards, 59, refused to utter the name Rielle Hunter, 45, but said her husband's mistress was partly to blame for the affair that torpedoed her husband's political career and traumatized her family.

"Women need to have respect for other women," she told Winfrey.

Elizabeth Edwards placed much of the blame on her husband, but said Hunter had to know that John Edwards had a wife who'd been diagnosed with terminal cancer and that she had two young children, along with an adult daughter. That should have prevented Hunter from going after her husband, she said.

"You can't just knock on that door and say you're out, I'm in," Edwards said. "If you admire that life, you can't just take it. Build your own."

Hunter has reportedly been angered by comments Edwards made in recent days while touting her memoir "Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts Facing Life's Adversities."

The National Enquirer, which first reported John Edwards' affair in 2007, reported that Hunter wants him to take a paternity test and is threatening legal action. John Edwards, who has denied fathering the baby, initially agreed to a paternity test, but Hunter had declined.

Elizabeth Edwards has barely been seen in public since last summer, when news of the affair broke. Some are questioning her motives and her decision to put her family in the spotlight and stir up the scandal. Her husband, the former senator from North Carolina, told Winfrey the decision to publish her book was totally his wife's.

"I think it's thoughtful. ? I think it's [about] how she feels. ? I never suggested she change anything," John Edwards said.

Gayle King, editor at large of O magazine, which is running excerpts of the books and who also visited the Edwards' sprawling home in Chapel Hill, N.C., with Winfrey, said Elizabeth Edwards wanted to present her side of the story.

"I don't think she wants to be portrayed as a long-suffering wife. I think she wanted people to know what she was thinking and what she's feeling," King said in an exclusive interview with Diane Sawyer on "Good Morning America."

The Edwards said they are working on their 31-year marriage, but that trust remains a key issue.

On whether they are getting to a better place, John Edwards said, "I feel like we're getting to it. It's not over, but we're getting to it."

"I love her. I care about her," he said about his wife.

He said he wasn't certain whether his wife would leave him when he first told her about the affair two days after announcing his candidacy for president in December 2006.

"It's an ongoing process of finding your feet again. You know, finding, sort of retelling your story to yourself," Elizabeth Edwards told Winfrey. "There's a lot of adjustments to make. And when you talk about trust, I think that's probably the most difficult hurdle."

In her book, Edwards said that when her husband first admitted the adultery, he "left most of the truth out," saying it was a onetime fling.

"I didn't suspect he would drop by and see her again after we had that conversation," she told Winfrey, referring to her husband's visit to Hunter's hotel in which photographs show him picking up her baby. "What it meant was that this trust we managed to build just pushed us way back -- farther back actually -- in the process."