Transcript: John Edwards Interview
Read selections of Bob Woodruff's interview with John Edwards.
Aug. 8, 2008— -- The following excerpts are from an interview by ABC News' Bob Woodruff of former Sen. John Edwards for ABC News "Nightline" on Aug. 8, 2008.
BOB WOODRUFF: Senator, before we start this I just want to make it clear to our audience that you asked me to come here, and asked me to come here to talk about the reports about your personal life. … Let me ask you the question, did you have an affair with Ms. Hunter?
JOHN EDWARDS: In 2006 2 years ago, I made a very serious mistake. A mistake that I am responsible for and no one else. In 2006 I told Elizabeth about the mistake, asked her for her forgiveness, asked God for his forgiveness. And we have kept this within our family since that time. All of my family knows about this and just to be absolutely clear, none of them are responsible for it. I am responsible for it. I alone am responsible for it. And it led to this most recent incident at the Beverly Hilton. I was at the Beverly Hilton. I was there for a very simple reason, because I was trying to keep this mistake that I had made from becoming public.
BOB WOODRUFF: Is this affair completely over?
JOHN EDWARDS: Oh yes, it's been over for a long time.
WOODRUFF:… How long did it last and when exactly did it end?
JOHN EDWARDS: Well, here's the way I feel about this Bob. I think that my family is entitled to every detail. They've been told every detail. Elizabeth knows absolutely everything. I think beyond the basics, the fact that I made this mistake and I'm responsible for it and no one else. I think that's where it stops in terms of the public because I think everything else is within my family and those privacy boundaries ought to be respected.
WOODRUFF: I know this is a very difficult question, but were you in love with [Rielle Hunter]?
EDWARDS: I'm in love with one woman. I've been in love with one woman for 31 years. She is the finest human being I have ever known. And the fact that she is with me after this having happened is a testament to the kind of woman and the kind of human being she is. There is a deep and abiding love that exists between Elizabeth and myself. It's always been there, it in my judgment has never gone away.
WOODRUFF: Your wife, Elizabeth, is probably the most admired and beloved person in this country, she's had enormous sympathy because she's also gone through cancer, how could you have done this?
EDWARDS: Here's what, can I explain to you what happened? First of all it happened during a period after she was in remission from cancer, that's no excuse in any possible way for what happened. This is what happened. It's what happened with me and I think happens unfortunately more often sometimes with other people.… Ego. Self-focus, self-importance. Now, I was slapped down to the ground when my son Wade died in 1996, in April of 1996. But then after that I ran for the senate and I got elected to the Senate and here we go again, it's the same old thing again. Adulation, respect, admiration. Then I went from being a senator, a young senator to being considered for vice president, running for president, being a vice presidential candidate and becoming a national public figure. All of which fed a self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism that leads you to believe that you can do whatever you want. You're invincible. And there will be no consequences. And nothing, nothing could be further from the truth.
WOODRUFF: So your assumption was that you'd just never be caught?
EDWARDS: It was a huge judgment, mistake in judgment. But yeah, I didn't think anyone would ever know about it. I didn't. And the important thing is, how could I ever get to the place, to that place and allow myself to let that happen?
WOODRUFF: …[I]f you thought that you would not get caught, how did [Elizabeth] find out about this affair?
EDWARDS: I told her.
WOODRUFF: This was before there was public reporting on this?
EDWARDS: Oh it was way before. This was in 2006. I decided, it was clear to me very quickly after this happened that I had to tell her that I loved her, she was central to my life, she had to know it and it was painful for her. Hard and painful for her, but she responded exactly like the kind of woman she is. And then she forgave me and we went to work on it. I'm not saying she thought it was okay, I'm not saying that, but she did forgive me. Listen, she understands what I understand which is that I am imperfect and anybody, anybody watching this broadcast or who hears about this who wants to beat me up for this, they should have at it. The truth is you can't possibly beat me up more than I have already beaten myself up.
WOODRUFF: Why did you continue to deny it [publicly] and not tell the truth?
EDWARDS: Because I did not want the public to know what I had done. Fair and simple. And there's also a lot of these you know supermarket tabloid allegations are just lies, they're complete lies. But this, this mistake, is the truth.
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