Edwards admits affair

WASHINGTON Fri Aug 8, 2008 7:15pm EDT

Former Democratic presidential candidate and former Senator John Edwards waits in a hallway while campaigning in Iowa City, January 2, 2008. REUTERS/John Gress

Former Democratic presidential candidate and former Senator John Edwards waits in a hallway while campaigning in Iowa City, January 2, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/John Gress

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former U.S. Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Friday admitted that he had an extramarital affair.

"I told my wife that I had a liaison with another woman, and I asked for her forgiveness," Edwards said in a statement that he released after ABC News reported details of the affair.

Edwards, whose wife Elizabeth is suffering from incurable cancer, denied during his unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic nomination this year that he had an affair.

"You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself," the former U.S. senator from North Carolina and failed 2004 vice presidential candidate said in a statement.

"I have been stripped bare and will now work with everything I have to help my family and others who need my help," he said.

Edwards, 55, admitted he had the affair with 44-year-old Rielle Hunter, whom he met in a New York City bar in 2006. But in an interview with ABC's "Nightline," set to air on Friday night, he said he did not love her, according to the network's early evening broadcast of "World News."

Hunter subsequently was hired by an Edwards political action committee to produce documentaries, and traveled around the country and to Africa, ABC News said.

In his statement, Edwards denied he was the father of the Hunter's baby, but said he had not taken a paternity test.

According to ABC News he also knew he was not the father based on the timing of baby's birth on February 27, 2008.

ABC also reported that the former finance chairman of the Edwards campaign, Fred Baron, said he had paid Hunter without Edwards knowing.

In his statement, Edwards seemed to support this claim.

"I also have not been engaged in any activity of any description that requested, agreed to or supported payments of any kind to the woman or to the apparent father of the baby," he also said.

A former Edwards campaign aide, Andrew Young, has said he was the baby's father, ABC's website said, but Young would not comment on the interview.

Edwards said in his statement that after the "Nightline" interview aired, he would not make any further comment on the matter.

Before Friday's revelation, there had been speculation that Edwards might be a vice presidential running mate for Democratic candidate Barack Obama or be appointed to Obama's Cabinet if he won the White House.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert and Richard Cowan, Editing by Sandra Maler)

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