Rielle Hunter became the most vilified woman in America when she had an affair with married presidential hopeful John Edwards and gave birth to his child, and in an interview with ABC News, Hunter said she still loves Edwards and that he’s very much a part of her life and the life of their daughter, Quinn.
“I view him as family. I mean, he's family. I absolutely love him,” Hunter told ABC News’ Amy Robach. “We’re very, very good friends. And great co-parents. And we have the same goals. We want the best for Quinn. We get along great.”
Hunter was full of praise for Edwards' attention to his daughter.
“Oh God, he loves her so much it's cute. I think he has a real soft spot for her. He does. He gets very choked up by her, it's sweet,” she said.
Quinn, who is now 8 years old, agreed that her father was “great.” Asked how often she got to see him, the girl replied: “As often as I can.”
Hunter, then an unknown actress and movie producer, began her affair with the then-U.S. senator from North Carolina in 2006 as he traveled the country ahead of his 2008 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. The affair continued even when Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, had a recurrence of breast cancer.
Tabloid rumors of the affair persisted until 2010, when Edwards admitted to having fathered a child with Hunter. That child, Quinn, was born in 2008.
The fallout was intense. Edwards was later indicted for allegedly using more than $900,000 in campaign funds to hide his mistress, but he was acquitted on one count and a mistrial was declared on the other counts.
Elizabeth Edwards died in 2010 after a six-year battle with breast cancer.
Hunter: Take Responsibility for Your Mistake
Hunter, 52, has enjoyed her time out of the spotlight.
“The last few years have been great. Very filled with joy, and I as a mom, like, everything I do now is based upon being a mom first, and my choices, how they are going to impact Quinn,” she said.
Their shared activities include a love or horseback riding. Hunter rode as a child and her daughter is following in her footsteps. The child recently qualified for the finals of a pony riding competition.
Quinn chatted with Robach about her horse named Howie.
“He thinks he's a fancy show horse and he's just a pony,” Quinn said, adding that the horse “taught me how to be a better rider and how to find happiness.”
Mother and daughter are sharing their passion in a new children’s book. “Howie Do It: Finding Happiness Right Now” was written by Hunter and illustrated by Quinn.
Hunter’s happiness has come after having endured extreme scrutiny and criticism. Robach asked her whether she was concerned that the book’s release and its attendant publicity would force her to relive the past.
“I think you can't go away, you know, when you make a mistake, when you have bad things going on you have to take responsibility for it, say you’re sorry, forgive yourself and then move on,” she said.
It’s a lesson she’s managed to impart to her child. When Robach asked Quinn what she had learned from her mother, the girl replied: “That it’s okay to make mistakes. And not to be hard on myself.”
'I'm With Her'
Hunter told Robach that what bothered her the most about the time after the affair was exposed was the “meanness” to which she was subjected.
“You know the lack of compassion and understanding that happens when people make mistakes ... everyone judges and jumps so fast,” she said.
He experiences appear to have had an impact on her choice of presidential candidate.
“Part of what I love so much about Hillary Clinton is she has had everything thrown at her but the kitchen sink, and maybe even the kitchen sink ... she doesn't ever give up and I admire that,” she said.
When Robach asked whether Hunter would be voting for Clinton, she laughed as replied: “As a mom, she’s a great role model ... I’m with her.”
She then leaned over to her daughter and said “We’re with her.”