[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/06/edwards.mistress/art.reille.hunter.jpg caption="Rielle Hunter is seen arriving at a federal courthouse in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2009."]
Program note: Tonight, Anderson speaks with former aide to John Edwards, Andrew Young. Young had initially lied about being the father of Rielle Hunter's baby at the request of Edwards. Hunter lived with Young and his family a few years ago, and allegedly left a sex tape of her and Edwards in the Young house. Tune in tonight at 10pm ET to hear Young's reaction to Hunter's interview and photo session.
I met rielle hunter for the first time the day of our first interview, at her home in Charlotte, North Carolina, though we'd already spoken for some months on the phone. And would continue to, as more developments were reported. (Are she and John Edwards engaged? "I am not engaged.") There were no conditions, no ground rules, no topics or questions that were off-limits. Just a request that her words be her words, unfiltered and unspun. While everyone else in the Edwards drama has said their piece, in books and/or television interviews, the mistress and campaign videographer and mother of his child has, in her own words, "kept my mouth shut." Until now (as they say in the tabloids).
My first impression of Hunter, when she opened the back door of the screened porch filled with toys and strollers in the three-bedroom house she is renting (for $1,500 a month), her hair pulled up in a scrunchy, was that she was much prettier, and a whole lot softer, than all those National Enquirer spy photos suggest. She was wearing size 2 jeans, a Ralph Lauren turtleneck, and Uggs. No makeup. And she was laughing. Because Quinn, her 2-year-old daughter, had just done something particularly adorable. The child is gorgeous and, yes, looks exactly like John Edwards, but she also has her mother's spirit. Which is to say, a combination of serenity and spunk.
Hunter had fluffed up the tiny guest room upstairs—carefully placing a Zen-sayings paperback beside the twin bed—and invited me to stay overnight, with a warning that the three of us (she, Quinn, and I) would have to share the one bathroom, where the tub is filled with her daughter's rubber duckies. I accepted.
During the day and night and into the next morning, our talks were sometimes interrupted by the presence of a creepy guy exiting a dark blue van and setting up a tripod and camera on the sidewalk by her house, the lens focused into her living room or bedroom. She would handle this with practiced ease, closing any shutters that weren't already closed ("I love sunlight, but this is the reality"), at night dimming the lights and, with Quinn on her hip, dialing up her pals in the local police department, who are used to this (and are fiercely protective of her and Quinn). The cops would do their thing, the paparazzi would scatter—then return an hour or so later and the whole exercise would start again.
Throughout the day, news flashes and fresh rumors about her and Edwards popped up on my BlackBerry and her laptop. (The TV was on constantly, but it was tuned to Nick Jr., Quinn's favorite channel, not CNN.) At one point, while Hunter was feeding her daughter sushi-style avocado rolls in her high chair, the news broke that John and Elizabeth Edwards were officially separated. "Shocking," she said.
You haven't uttered a word so far. Why now?
I feel comfortable talking now, because Johnny went public and made a statement admitting paternity. I didn't feel like I could ever speak until he did that. Because had I spoken, I would have emasculated him. And I could not emasculate him. Also, it is not my desire to teach my daughter that when Mommy's upset with Daddy, you take matters into your own hands and fix Daddy's mistakes. Which I view as one of the biggest problems in all female-and-male relationships.
We'll get to that. But first, we should make it clear: You're not making a penny from this interview.
[laughs] I am not making a penny from this interview!
Filed under: What You Will Be Talking About Today
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