May 11th, 2009
06:34 PM ET

Elizabeth Edwards: How I survived John's affair

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/05/edwards.affair/art.edwards.gi.jpg]

Elizabeth Edwards
For Time

John was gone a lot in 2003 and 2004 running for office, and although I saw him all the time in 2005 when I was getting treatment for breast cancer, I knew I would see him less in 2006. I even participated in his being gone.

I thought he should do a spring-break trip for college students in New Orleans to help with the Hurricane Katrina cleanup. His antipoverty work would take him across the country, and I knew that. When he told me that the political action committee was going to have behind-the-scenes videos made of some of these efforts, it didn't seem like that bad an idea, and it certainly didn't occur to me to ask about who was making them.

It didn't occur to me that at a fancy hotel in New York, where he sat with a potential donor to his antipoverty work, he would be targeted by a woman who would confirm that the man at the table was John Edwards and then would wait for him outside the hotel hours later when he returned from a dinner, wait with the come-on line "You are so hot" and an idea that she should travel with him and make videos. And if you had asked me to wager that house we were building on whether my husband of then 28 years would have responded to a come-on line like that, I would have said no.


soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. Sylvester Yarpah

    Old school? This is the right kind of attitude. Most marriages should imminent the family oriented value which disregard the self but protect the overall interest of family. Marriage is not only for the good times, but is also in times of testing and most challenges, such as the Edwards. A successful marriage is built on the spirit of forgiveness. Mrs. Edward, please remain a forgiven woman. If there were many people like you, there won't lot of broken homes and single parented children, who is deprived of the love and protection of both parents. Lets remember that no man is infallable.

    May 11, 2009 at 11:09 pm |
  2. Beverly

    Elizabeth & John Edwards tried to "con" the voters by appearing as "the perfect couple" on TV during the presidential primary. We have seen and heard enough from this couple. I wish they would just go away and do something constructive like volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.
    Writing the book and appearing on talk shows did not enhance her public profile. Instead she comes across as someone who has on blinders and refuses to see that her husband is a liar & cheater

    May 11, 2009 at 11:08 pm |
  3. Teresa Hillis

    It's too raw! She's so in the middle of processing her pain! I'm the mere public witnessing her betrayal. Courageous,yet it feels to soon to be experiencing her voulnerable journey. Interested,yes,I could hardly wait to hear what she was going to say,it was disturbing to hear her thoughts,there were no answers. I longed to hear something like were in counseling,trying to learn how we got here,how & can I forgive him? Until then,how do we move forward as a family? How can we heal? What are the questions that need to be asked so that we can authentically heal as a family,as individuals. Hasn't she lost enough? A child,health,& now the promise's of her husband?

    May 11, 2009 at 11:06 pm |
  4. Bernice Kangisser

    cleveland senior citizen

    I am appalled with the comments made
    by your female guests tonight. One might
    imagine what these beautiful young
    women might be expected to do with their
    whole life ahead of them. Mrs. Edwards
    is a bright woman, who is bleeding inwards
    and outwards. She has the ability to grieve
    by expressing herself intellectually. If the
    book doesn't meet with your approval-
    don't buy it!!!

    May 11, 2009 at 11:06 pm |
  5. Amy Graves

    As the wife of a wealthy man, who experienced what Elizabeth Edwards did, and being terminally ill myself… I see that Elizabeth is trying to get “control” of her world in writing the book.
    These young women waltz in and try to “skim the cream” off a diifficult time in a relationship. Elizabeth is trying to write a book on resiliance and can’t avoid the elephant in the room. It is what the public wants to know… like rubbernecking when one passes a car accident.
    Give the woman room to breathe.

    May 11, 2009 at 11:06 pm |
  6. Allen steiner

    I just watched your discourse about Mrs. Edwards, (10:00 PM 05/11/09) and I was struck by the fact that the blond bimbette you had on as a pundit for counter-point couldn't keep her mouth shut for two seconds to let any one else make a point.

    Nor was any of her discourse based in fact, but rather the misconstrued Idea that she and whoever it is she proclaims to represent has the inherent Right to know, and needle someone, and twist any answer they give to make headlines

    I haven't made up my mind about Mrs. Edwards book or her motivation, (mainly due to this distraction) or any of it's content, as of yet,...but when the net work keeps bringing these unprofessional, journalist wannabe's in to voice their vapid opinions, I am so affronted by their ignorance that all I want to do is change the channel in disgust.

    When did CNN become the National Inquirer, (which is the Larry Flint/Hustler) of News reporting?

    Please Anderson get back to reporting in the manner in which you made your rep and tell the producers to cease and desist in this vent!

    You really don't have to compete in this with Rush, and Glenn and Bill,...do what you do best!

    May 11, 2009 at 11:06 pm |
  7. Shirley

    Mrs. Edwards, as yet I have not read your book, only know about some of it, namely, your husband's infidelity(ies) from interviews, etc. I sympathize greatly with what you have gone through over the years, the loss of your child #1, your serious health problem #2, maybe some other things that we don't know about, BUT his stupidity and simple ego problems seem to be #3. Never having been (or ever wanting to be) married, over 75 years old, no children by choice, you must have always worried, been suspicious, feared the possibility that it would eventually happen knowing your husband so well. If writing this book gives you satisfaction, no matter what the critics say, God bless you, and I am not religious. He is, and always was, a slick charmer to some, and has gone far and now deservedly is "down." I have been "the other woman" madly in love with a married man who eventually stayed with his wife even though I never insisted or gave him an ultimatum to be with me. I would never have married him if he left his wife because I knew he would cheat on me. Your husband did what most married men do-they want an exciting affair with no intention of breaking up their marriage but they are stupid in the way they handle the affair. #1 – make sure no new babies and the only way to insure that (don't believe the woman no way) but use protection unless they have had a vasectomy. So, don't blame yourself for anything-he is a slimy womanizer who I didn't like or trust when he was compaigning and now I know he is not only a slimy womanizer, but a stupid liar and a bastard for the damage he has done to you and your children. What a shameful legacy he has left for the children and what a despicable thing he has done to you. I know you need him, so keep him like a pet and make him feel as guilty as possible.

    May 11, 2009 at 11:06 pm |
  8. Jolie

    Regarding Elizabeth Edwards, I think it is fascinating that women are so critical of her. She is speaking her point of view and opinion about what she has gone through in her life on many fronts. She has been completely chewed out and spit upon for speaking about exactly what she is feeling. We may not agree with it, we may see that she is in denial about some things, but she is speaking her truth as a woman about what she has gone through. I give her kudos for speaking about her truth and if it doesn't agree with you, so what. You do not need to personally attack her for giving her experience a voice. I think the truth about what she has gone through speaks true to a lot of women. And, most importantly, it doesn't matter if her truth "isn't pretty and shouldn't be discussed in public." Haven't we advanced as women past our Victorian past? It doesn't look like it....

    May 11, 2009 at 11:06 pm |
  9. Dalia

    I feel that she should blame her husband,because if every woman who said he was hot he had to sleep with he would have alot of lovers. I was cheated on and I blamed my husband not the woman so much. He is the one that has no respect for his wife. He also had unprotected sex taking a chance to bring his wife home a STD. She should get on him and not think that because she has been married for so long then he should be excused.I wonder if any other woman are going to say that they had an affair with him. He has no concideration for his wife. The baby has nothing to do with any of this.

    May 11, 2009 at 11:04 pm |
  10. Lisa Gray

    I cannot imagine the pain that this woman is going through. Losing a sixteen year old child, having terminal cancer, and finding out that your husband of thirty years has cheated on you and may have fathered a child as a result of that affair, must be a terrible, terrible pain to endure. This woman felt the need to tell her story in her book as she has seen it and experienced it. We are in no position to judge her. I wish her peace and courage in the time that she has remaining.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:58 pm |
  11. Allison, SC

    I totally understand what Mrs. Edwards is going through. For a strong willed woman to be going through everything she has; this is her way to vent and get closure. I have learned after my situation that when a man is feeling lonely he feels weak; and only a manipulative person could take advantage of that weakness. Men just don't have a clue what women are capable of doing to get what they want. Unfortunately, us women look real stupid after the fact but it does makes us stronger! I wrote a letter to the woman in our situation to make her realize what kind of person she really is; it helped! I wish all the best to Mrs. Edwards and her family. She's got to do and say what she feels so she can find her way of closure. Good luck to all woman out there dealing with this!!!

    May 11, 2009 at 10:56 pm |
  12. Erika-Wichita, KS

    I thing your commentators should leave Elizabeth alone and let her
    have her say. I admire her having the guts to write it down.
    She loves her husband and hates the woman that was able to pull her husband into her web. Lets face it–woman know exactly how to do that and men will never know what hit them. 🙂
    I'm not excusing Edwards, but I totally understand Elizabeth's feelings toward that woman.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:56 pm |
  13. Mary

    I believe Elizabeth Edwards is courageous. This is a woman at the end of her life, and she talks of many hardships, and how she has survived. Anyone who has lost a child and is still standing deserves our attention in lessons of resilience. Her husband 's affair is heartbreaking and she has the right to tell how she feels.
    Many women and men have had to learn the hard way how to cope with this all too common betrayal. Now, she faces the ultimate trial, as her cancer takes her very life. Her critics should listen and learn.
    My prayers are with her and her family.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:56 pm |
  14. ladyram

    I agree with the above writer, Elizabeth Edwards is doing what she feels is neccessary for herself and her family; we are so quick to speak harshly of another without walking in their shoes. I don't know if any of you which are making comments about why she is speaking out have ever been hurt by infiedelty, but I have; it's very hard. The freedom to speak out about the situation especially when you're husband is in the public eye is healing for the soul. The media has been allowed to bear all:This is for her children and her family. We should not be so quick to judge. I respect Ms Edwards and I pray all will be well with her.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:54 pm |
  15. Barbara

    My heart goes out to Elizabeth Edwards, she is in a terrible situation through no fault of her own. Her husband is the one who should be taking the heat for betraying her and putting their family in such a tough position. Maybe she just wants to tell the world how much it hurts, how in one second your whole life is shattered and all you can do is try to gather the pieces back up and make sense of it. It is her husbands fault ultimately however that woman who willingly entered into an affair with a married man owns part of this tragedy as well. She knew, she did not care in the least who she hurt so there is no defending her. After 30 years of marriage my husband did the same thing, we are divorced and the pain and desolation to our entire family has been unbearable for all of us. The consequences are paid by the innocent spouse and children, adultery does terrible harm.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:54 pm |
  16. Phyllis

    Elizabeth is writing this book to express how "She" feels and she knows her children better than any Tv anchor or host and I feel that she is allowed to express herself in her own way. The comments of some of the guest on AC360 are their own and I feel Elizabeth is "Damned if she DO or Damned if she DON'T in the eyes of the media. The media seems more interested in her reasons as to why she expressed herself.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:51 pm |
  17. Jennifer

    I feel so bad for Elizabeth, but in the same time I don't think she should blame most on the mistress. Her husband is a married man with a family and he cheated. He should be blamed for 95% not the mistress. I also find insulting that she call the baby "it" in interviews. That baby did not do anything wrong and she deserve to know who her father is. John Edward obvious is not the man he wants the public to view him as, he is a lier. He cheated and he should stand up to see if that baby is his. Elizabeth, for your sake, let your husband be a man for once and do the right thing. Stop refer to her as 'It".

    May 11, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  18. Lindi

    Can we please show some compassion for Elizabeth Edwards? She's facing terminal cancer.....what do you suggest she do, Lisa...leave her husband of 30 years, who's been her main source of support and strength during her fight with cancer and spend her last days alone? She needs him. I recall her saying in a recent interview that he can "still look at me as if I'm the most beautiful woman in the world".....she needs that. And if that means making excuses for him, then so be it.
    One day I hope that child does know her father...but not now....not if it's John....

    May 11, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  19. gina clark

    Elizabeth Edwards is unquestionably a VERY COURAGEOUS WOMAN! It is upsetting that every time a women speaks out about her unfaithful man, she is vicious and attacking and trying to get even and embarrassing her children, but its okay for the guy to have his cake and eat it too. no one says anything negative about the louse!

    May 11, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  20. Managan -- Baton Rouge, LA

    There is nothing wrong with what Elizabeth Edwards is doing. She has an insight on life that only staring death in the face can give you. John wronged her. She's sharing her pain. We should all be so brave.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  21. karen

    she should of left that cheater years ago. if it was only once as he said he will do it again, she is dying of cancer. i would take my kids travel and have fun in my last days and yes i would tell everyone of his affair, oh she wont acknowledge his maybe child out of the affair, sorry he is wrong and so is his mistress she knew he was married, if a kid came out of the affair well it is the adulters fault and his mistress they need to deal with the child not the wife that was cheated on. live the last days to your fullest, spend time with your kids screw that cheater

    May 11, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  22. Guy

    Mrs Edwards was one of the first to attack Hillary Clinton, knowing that Mrs. Clinton could not respond because Mrs. Edwards was a woman and had cancer. IShe continued her attacks for several months. She was also in on the cover-up of Mr. Edwards affair. Not coming forward with the truth is the same as lying. Now she refers to an infant as (it). In my 68 year on this planet, I can't remember anyone this low.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  23. maggie g

    As a recipient of deceit, I can tell you that she is dealing with a situation that is almost unbearable. I had a 10 year relationship and I felt that I wanted to bury my self away for a while until I could find a place for my heart. I can't even imagine how she feels presently with a 30 plus relationship. And just think, she is also dealing with cancer. Let her do whatever she wants. She will wake up out of all this pain eventually.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  24. Deedee F.

    Elizabeth's speaking out is further assuring that John Edwards and Rielle Hunter, 1will not be together raising Elizabeth's children and also decreasing the possibility that Rielle's child will share in the financial assets that more rightfully belong to Elizabeth's children. She has made it near impossible, without becoming a public pariah, for John to pick up with Ms. Hunter, following Elizabeth's demise.

    Its what she can do now, to prevent those two posssibilities. I am sure she has set up trusts to protect her children's assets from any other children John may have.
    Deedee F.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  25. Lester Hinson

    What happened to forgiveness? And when forgiving takes place, he/she is continously scrutinized-either for forgiving or for being forgiven. As a fellow North Carolinian and as someone who makes mistakes, I support both Elizabeth and John Edwards. He made a horrible mistake and that is a fact that he has had to face not only to his wife and family, but also to the national media. While I agree that politicians, celebrities, and people in the public eye should be exposed to the spotlight that has made he/she famous, we (a society) must never forget that we are all human. We are faliable. And yes, I can forgive because I have been forgiven of my own mistakes. I'm just thankful that I'm not in the spotlight!

    May 11, 2009 at 10:46 pm |
  26. Margaret McCann

    Why shouldn't Mrs. Edwards have her say? I haven't read the book but see it as a lamentation–the expression of a formidable, influential woman sharing her experiences with adversity. Bravo! God bless the Edwards family.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:46 pm |
  27. Brenda

    I must say, I watched Mrs. Edwards on Oprah. She is DEFINETLY blaming the other woman and giving John a pass because he's SO HOT!
    I'll bet theres been numerouse other affairs that will come out after Mrs. Edwards passes.
    I'm a cancer survivor AND YES its scary to think you may die . In Mrs. Edwards position, she's afraid to die alone and wants to keep her family together for HER sake. If she were not terminally ill, I think this entire situation would have a very different out come!

    May 11, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  28. Gingie, New York

    I feel badly for Elizabeth and agree that it was up to John to "just say no", but the media is beating this into the ground. Enough. I don't want to hear or know anymore about the affair. Isn't there something else in the book? The media is focusing on the affair and I'm pretty sure that is just a part of her story. She has had to be resilient at other times in her life and let's hear about those experiences.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  29. Devon

    One of the commentators asked what the right response was for Mrs. Edwards to have, and that brings up poignant view of this whole situation . . . that there is no right or wrong reaction. It is her prerogative to react however she will, and I find it insulting that there is more conversation regarding her reaction than her there is about her husband's infidelity. Aren't we focusing on the wrong thing here?

    May 11, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  30. Nonna

    all of this interviews are just to sell her book! How can she face her kids,
    how she can stay with this man and explain it to her grown daughter!
    If she was hoping to get some sympathy she fail miserably!!

    May 11, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  31. Renate

    I am a cancer survivor and I would like to tell that blond woman you just had on, that this is NOT ONLY ABOUT CHEATING, it is about having the lifethreatening illness CANCER A N D your husband CHEATING ON YOU. I watched the Oprah interview and thought that I would not do it, i.e. write the book, but Elisabeth is fighting for her life and part of this is standing up to her husband any way she can, any way she may call it. She cannot leave him now. They have small children. She does not know how long she has. CANCER IS A LONELY< SCARY ROAD, even if you have all the love and support of family and friends. He is scum. A bottom crawler. He is garbage. THere is NO EXCUSE in the world for his action. I dont care what Elisabeth calls the writing of this book. SHe is getting even, and rightly so. I would like to say to that blond woman on your show, may you never have cancer and be in her situation. WHere is your heart? where is your charity? This story will never be over for Elisabeth E. You, ( blond woman) are the kind of woman, we women do not need. Shame on you for your lack of compassion.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  32. j burton

    I find it empowering that Elizabeth Edwards is sharing her ever evolving views on how she has felt about her husband's betrayal. Give her a break, time will hopefully help her recognize that really only her husband is to blame (not the other woman), and whether or not they have a strong enough foundation to move forward together. She is right, her life is tragic. How will her kids reconcile this fact? That is clearly something they both have to consider for the sake of their kids.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  33. David Harris

    Does Lisa Bloom ever shut up? Why would she blow something like what EE chooses to call or not call Rielle Hunter's baby completely out of proportion? You could see Lisa realizing her point was imbecilic when your other guest asked rhetorically why it was EE's affair who the parents of the baby were. Please, AC360, have less shallow guests with more perspective on in the future, guests who do not minutely dissect the interview responses of terminally ill individuals.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  34. Sal Voce

    Edwards will continue to stay in the news as long as CNN, etc., keep her there...

    Frankly, the rest of us just don't give a damn anymore about EITHER of them!

    May 11, 2009 at 10:42 pm |
  35. Marcia Krause

    I think everyone should just leave Elizabeth Edwards alone. She has suffered more losses in her life than most women, and if she decides to write a book, I applaud her. She is open and honest about things that most people are afraid to talk about, and I admire and respect her very much. I hope she lives for a long time and is able to be a mother to her kids and a husband to John, if she wishes to. Obviously she wishes to. That is not for us to judge.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:41 pm |
  36. pegala

    I'm thinking of the child... she has a right to know the father, and the father has the responsibility to care for the child. Otherwise, he is just another dead beat dad. Figure it out!!!

    May 11, 2009 at 10:41 pm |
  37. Susan

    Has anyone considered the fact that Elizabeth Edwards is in it for the money? She will rake it in....... especially with all this media attention.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:40 pm |
  38. Janelle

    I applaud Elizabeth Edwards. The truth will set you free. I don't think anyone of us could express our feelings about such an event without somebody finding fault with how we say it. You go Girl!

    May 11, 2009 at 10:40 pm |
  39. Tena Wells

    Give Mrs. Edwards a break, Lisa. She's dying. It does not matter if YOU understand or agree with her. This is not about YOU, it's about her.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:39 pm |
  40. Michael Avalon

    .....It takes two to tango, but It seems clearly that Ms.Hunter has absolutly no respect for Mrs. Edward or her children.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:38 pm |
  41. Adri

    How very easy it is for Ms Bloom to state what SHE would do in Mrs. Edwards' shoes; Ms Bloom is not dying of cancer, therefore she really has no right to assume what she would or would not do in this situation. I have to agree that the vilification of the slut on the side (and I'm a former slut on the side myself) is ridiculous as Rielle Hunter wasn't the one breaking vows, but I also would like to know since when is it the responsibility of the wronged spouse to make everything hunky-dory for the mistress and possible bastard child?

    May 11, 2009 at 10:38 pm |
  42. Katie

    You know what............................Elizabeth is not strong, Hilary Clinton was not strong and neither was Elliot Spitzer's wife. These women stay for the money. They are accustom to their lives and are afraid to leave. Women deal with men who cheat all the time and DO NOT stay! I think staying with an unfaithful man is a sign of weakness, especially when you feel you have to vent your anger publicly.

    Anyone who is cheated on should move on in my professional opinion. One of the top reasons people will continue to cheat is because they are welcomed back, and they feel they can get away with it again, and believe me they will. I have been there.

    The only thing these women gain is publicizing their anger and mistrust. They can not truly move on if they accept this behavior. The only way to move on is by leaving these men no matter what the financial cost. Happiness comes first and they will not achieve happiness living in a relationship full of misery, mistrust and anger. Be strong and move on, or don't air your dirty laundry! It makes you look weak and bad.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  43. gina

    do you really think if they dont know if this baby is johns? $$$$$$$ hello......

    May 11, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  44. Leah

    I have the utmost respect for Elizabeth Edwards. She is doing what Hillary Clinton, Jackie Kennedy Onasis and others have not. She is giving us the gory details of how it feels to be cheated on by the man that we love. How can you not respect that??

    May 11, 2009 at 9:12 pm |
  45. ladyomoh: chicago,IL

    Liz is a strong lady who wanted to complete her mission with John in a big fame but unfortunately, cancer came along. What realy broke the carmel's back was John's secret affairs and this had led to his distrustion in politics. Oh! Liz, what a struggle. You almost made it.

    May 11, 2009 at 8:19 pm |
  46. Jeannette Laframboise

    It must be so awful to go through such a dreadful betrayal while in the public eye. My hat is off to the women that forgive their husbands and move on, I know I could not.

    May 11, 2009 at 8:01 pm |
  47. Jennifer - Michigan

    This affair bit is a bunch of crap! John Edwards shoud have told the mistress after she says "You're so hot." – "Thank you for the compliment, however I've worked too hard for everything Elizabeth and I have to risk losing it, sorry." or "I'm very flattered, however I'm married." It is HIS responsiblity to protect his family no matter what the lady says or does!!!!! She can try everything and anything she wants – HE should have said no. It's so sad, what a load of crap! Anyway, I'd bet dollars to donuts that he pursued the whole thing in the first place.

    May 11, 2009 at 7:39 pm |
  48. Anonymous

    I feel so bad for Mrs. Edwards. I think she should take a long vacation and face the tragedies that have happened in her life and find some peace before her disease inevitably takes her away from it all. I wish her the best and think her husband is a jerk. She's hurt herself, which is sad, but perhaps it will help others.

    May 11, 2009 at 7:25 pm |
  49. Annie Kate

    I deplore what John Edwards did to his wife and feel for her, but I question why she is going so public with this. Is the book and the interviews to help herself understand and accept his actions more or is it revenge on John for having cheated? With Elizabeth's book out and her giving interviews the spotlight is certainly back on him and the feeling of what a cad he was to cheat on his wife of 28 years who was already having to cope with cancer is magnified. I think therapy might have been better than to air their dirty laundry in public like this. I do hope both of them can come to some sort of terms with this in their marriage and move on from there without this detailed look back.

    May 11, 2009 at 7:07 pm |
  50. Mari

    Dear Mrs. Edwards,

    I know you mean well, that you are sincere. However, as a woman who has been married 35 years, I am a bit cynical, having watch two of your interviews. I sense deception, or at least, that you are not really being completely frank. My gut feeling tells me, that you, a loving-supportive wife are doing all you can to salvage John's political career, as an act of love.

    Its really a shame that John broke his wedding vows, its sad and heart breaking. Regardless of John's mia culpa, and your generous praise and forgiveness, your husband is a schmuck. You deserved better!

    Please go in peace, back home to your children. God bless you with health and life.

    May 11, 2009 at 7:04 pm |
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