Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Elizabeth Edwards tells CNN's Larry King why she does not divorce her cheating husband John

| 8 Comments



TRANSCRIPT: Larry King Talks with ELIZABETH EDWARDS / Tues. May 12, 9 pm ET

Elizabeth Edwards sat with Larry King today for the hour in an interview discussing her new book, Resilience. During the interview, Edwards discusses her reasons for writing the book; her husband John Edward's affair; why she didn't divorce, forgiveness, and her children; how she learned about the affair; the status of her health; and the status of the federal inquiry into her husband's campaign spending. The interview airs tonight on CNN's Larry King Live at 9 pm ET.

Transcript highlights of the interview appear below, followed by a full rush transcript.

TO ACCESS PHOTOGRAPHY:

Click on the URL(s) below or copy and paste the entire URL into your web browser. If you receive an error page, verify that the entire URL has been pasted into your web browser.
Download images here: http://imftp.turner.com/?f=390o


Please credit all usage to CNN's Larry King Live.

Contact: Ryan Jimenez

ryan.jimenez@cnn.com / 323.993.5120

HIGHLIGHTS

EDWARDS ON WHY SHE WROTE THE BOOK

KING: So why write it?

EDWARDS: Well, honestly, I'm actually really glad you asked this
question, because a lot of people are asking that question. And I'm
really pleased to have the opportunity to answer.

The book, for people who have actually read it -- people were coming
before it actually came out and they hadn't read it -- but those who
actually read it will find that seven-eighths of the book is about other
things. A very small portion is about our latest problems associated
with John's indiscretions. And we're -- if I had written it without --
you know, it happened after I had agreed to write the book -- if I had
written it without that, people would be complaining that I hadn't been
honest. I pride myself in being an honest person.

KING: So a catch-22.

EDWARDS: Right, one way or the other. So I devoted a very small part of
the book to that subject, but 95 percent of the questions by the same
people who are complaining about me are exactly on that subject.

KING: But being a very bright woman, you knew that that would be the
attention-getting of the book.

EDWARDS: I knew that it would draw attention, and that's why I actually
wrote in there, "If you picked up this book in hopes of reading details
of a scandal, put the book down now." It's not about that.

The book is about what you do. And the kinds of adversities I talked
about were the kinds I faced. But there are all sorts of adversities
people face and, you know, you're going to have problems in your life.
That's a universal fact, and how it is you deal with them, how it is you
accept them and integrate them into your life is what the book is about.

EDWARDS ON THE BOOK, HER HUSBAND & CHILDREN

KING: Is this any sense of punishment of John?

EDWARDS: No. I don't think anybody who actually reads the book would
feel like it is.

KING: All right. But by being so public, you realize that it has to have
an effect on children.

EDWARDS: My children know what happened. And if they didn't know what
happened, they would, as they use the Internet, they'd be able to find
those things.

You know, there were sites during the campaign that my children went and
saw some of which were not very complimentary. And they would ask them
about them.

I think if you read the book and said, "I'm Elizabeth Edwards' child and
I'm reading this book," I don't think you would think, what a terrible
thing she's done to this. I hope, in fact, a gift to them to tell them
that when things happen that you don't want to have happen in your life,
you can get through them.

I may not be there to say that. This book tells -- reminds them of that.

EDWARDS ON THE CHILDREN'S FEELINGS TOWARD THEIR FATHER

KING: How do they feel about their father?

EDWARDS: They feel great about their father. And I think part of that is
that we've talked about the fact that nobody is perfect and that this is
a way in which his imperfections actually hurt other people, and what it
is you do, is you try to make amends in the best way you can. And the
fact that he hurt not just me, but the whole family, in a sense, he's
been making incredible amends with them.

You know, he is, in the last months in particular -- he's always been a
great father. You know, someone who volunteers for coaching and
everything else. But now he is so incredibly involved in every part of
their lives, they're getting to see the man that I fell in love with,
which is great.

EDWARDS ON DIVORCE

KING: Why didn't you get divorced?

EDWARDS: Because, you know, a marriage is -- we all know this, it's hard
work, you put it together and you work very hard on it. And the parts
that come in, good and bad, include for John that he is an
extraordinarily good man.

When he talked about poverty, he meant it. In fact, you know, as we
speak, he's working in El Salvador with the Fuller Center and the Homes
from the Heart, trying to make certain that people who don't have
shelter have that.

I mean, this is something he deeply cares about. That's a good man. He
has provided for us. He has -- you know, his fathering has been nearly
perfect. His caring for me, with this really big painful exception, has
been extraordinary, through Wade's death, through the cancer.

KING: But you have to think about it a lot, don't you? Or do...

EDWARDS: Oh no, you do. You have to say, is that -- is this piece, this
piece which is so painful, so big, that it obscures all of those other
things. And did I think about that? I did think about that. But in the
end I decided it did not.

EDWARDS ON FINDING OUT ABOUT THE AFFAIR

KING: How did you find out? Really find -- know the truth?

EDWARDS: John told me. He told me briefly after -- he told me after he
had done his announcement to run for president, he had gone to various
places and -- to do that, and came back to Chapel Hill. And after he had
done the announcement there, he told me.

It was the first time I had ever seen her. I didn't honestly know that
the videographer was a female. I mean, this is -- I was completely in
the dark.

KING: And naive.

EDWARDS: And naive.

KING: How do he say it?

EDWARDS: He just -- you know, we just went into our -- my family visits
at Christmas, which is great, and he just went -- we went into our
bedroom, and he said he had something, you know, he needed to tell me.

And that this person had traveled with him, was no longer traveling with
him, and would not. And he just -- you know, he was contrite. He wanted
-- you know, so wanted to hug me and hold me to comfort me and that's
not exactly the moment when I wanted to be hugged.

Later on there was plenty of time for that. But you know, he just told
me, and you know, I took it as I suppose most people do, which is very
badly.

KING: Was there a kind of, how could you?

EDWARDS: Oh, absolutely. You know, and I don't think he knows. I don't
think to this day he knows how he could do this, because if you asked
him to rank the things that are important to him, this wouldn't be on
the list.

EDWARDS ON FORGIVENESS

KING: Have you forgiven him?

EDWARDS: I have forgiven him. He still has to rebuild the trust but
honestly, I think we think of forgiveness as a gift we give somebody but
I think it's also a gift we give ourselves. I didn't understand ...

KING: That's the Christian concept.

EDWARDS: I never understood somebody who said, they forgive someone who
was driving drunk and killed their child. Certainly what we saw when the
Amish forgave the man with the schoolhouse. It was incomprehensible to
me. But now I'm in certainly a less stressful situation than either of
those but I see that my giving, my forgiving him has allowed me to let
go of a lot of the pain I was carrying around with me every day.

EDWARDS ON THE FEDERAL INQUIRY INTO HER HUSBAND'S CAMPAIGN SPENDING

KING: Where does that stand? Facing that federal inquiry?

EDWARDS: We've made all the - I say we - the campaign has made all of
the records available. Honestly, the use of campaign money is on the
Internet. Every check that's written from the campaign is reflected on a
disbursement section of the campaign reports that are made quarterly and
they're online. Anybody who wants to see them can check and see whether
any - where the money went. And what they'll see is money going to
people employed by the campaign who - and for expenses for travel and
reimbursements for if something was -- somebody used some property or
lent (ph) some property, those kinds of things. And we have complete
confidence that the funds were not used improperly.

KING: You were, were you not, very much involved in that campaign?

EDWARDS: You know, I care deeply about these issues. And in terms of the
financial part I was not involved.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript and may not be in its final form and may be updated.

LARRY KING, HOST: It's a great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE --
known her quite some time now, always great seeing her -- Elizabeth
Edwards.

Here in Los Angeles, "The New York Times" best-selling author. Her new
book is "Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing
Life's Adversities." There you see its cover.

She's the wife of the former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.

And before we get in to this extraordinary book, why you wrote it and
details about it -- and extraordinary, of course, automatic best-seller
-- how are you doing physically?

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, JOHN EDWARDS' WIFE: I'm doing all right. You know,
I'd like, you know, to be killing the cancer a little bit at a time and
be on this constant downward slide -- or maybe it's upward -- but it's
not like that. It's up and down.

And so I've had some bad results, but right now I'm on a very good
track. And the medicine I'm taking right now seems to be working. And I
feel pretty good.

KING: "All right" is not a great answer. You'd like to hear "great."

EDWARDS: Well, you know, the truth is, the medicine has side-effects.
You know? I have very dry hands, very dry feet. I've some numbness, some
aches and pains.

KING: Lost hair?

EDWARDS: Oh yes. I have to tell you, you have wonderful people who made
this look like a full head of hair, but it's not really quite that.

KING: You don't have a full head of hair?

EDWARDS: Well, it's not...

KING: But it's not a wig.

EDWARDS: This is not a wig. This is the real thing made great by Larry
King's staff.

KING: Are you in any stage, as they say?

EDWARDS: Stage four.

KING: That's the last stage.

EDWARDS: Well, we're hoping if we don't move from that stage, you know,
you're fine.

KING: The fear is it spreads; right?

EDWARDS: The fear is that it spreads. And it did spread a little bit
from March of 2007. That was the -- that was when I had -- when I said
the ups and downs. It spread to a bone in my thigh. And -- but the last
test I had, everything seem to be stabilized.

KING: We wish you nothing but the best.

EDWARDS: Thanks very much.

KING: A lot of people are asking why, why did you ever write all this?

EDWARDS: I actually agreed to write it quite some time ago. And I did it
because I thought I had something to say.

I speak all the time across the country on health care generally,
because I work doing -- talking about health care. That's my job. But
also, there are a lot of people in breast cancer centers and places
where you have grieving parents.

I speak in all of these different settings, and people seem to
appreciate what I had to say. So I thought I could reach a larger
audience if I write this down, and I did.

KING: But at those settings you don't talk about John and your troubles,
do you?

EDWARDS: No, I don't. And, you know...

KING: So why write it?

EDWARDS: Well, honestly, I'm actually really glad you asked this
question, because a lot of people are asking that question. And I'm
really pleased to have the opportunity to answer.

The book, for people who have actually read it -- people were coming
before it actually came out and they hadn't read it -- but those who
actually read it will find that seven-eighths of the book is about other
things. A very small portion is about our latest problems associated
with John's indiscretions. And we're -- if I had written it without --
you know, it happened after I had agreed to write the book -- if I had
written it without that, people would be complaining that I hadn't been
honest. I pride myself in being an honest person.

KING: So a catch-22.

EDWARDS: Right, one way or the other. So I devoted a very small part of
the book to that subject, but 95 percent of the questions by the same
people who are complaining about me are exactly on that subject.

KING: But being a very bright woman, you knew that that would be the
attention-getting of the book.

EDWARDS: I knew that it would draw attention, and that's why I actually
wrote in there, "If you picked up this book in hopes of reading details
of a scandal, put the book down now." It's not about that.

The book is about what you do. And the kinds of adversities I talked
about were the kinds I faced. But there are all sorts of adversities
people face and, you know, you're going to have problems in your life.
That's a universal fact, and how it is you deal with them, how it is you
accept them and integrate them into your life is what the book is about.

KING: But about the five percent, how do you deal with those like
Maureen Dowd, a very respected writer, who criticized you for airing
dirty linen?

EDWARDS: But there's nothing really in there basically that hasn't been
-- that isn't aired right now, that wasn't on the Internet before this
book was released.

KING: But didn't have your feelings.

EDWARDS: It didn't have my feelings, and I think that in this discussion
that we're having about this, one of the things -- that's my audience,
in a sense. My audience is people who are helping other people get
through this, get through struggles, maybe the same struggles I had, or
maybe different ones, and those who are going through them.

And to both tell them that this is universal, it's not just that it
happens to you because -- you know, of your particular circumstance. It
happens to everybody, including people in the news. And you can in fact
get past those things and move on and have a productive life, but the
life isn't going to be what it was before.

KING: Is this any sense of punishment of John?

EDWARDS: No. I don't think anybody who actually reads the book would
feel like it is.

KING: All right. But by being so public, you realize that it has to have
an effect on children.

EDWARDS: My children know what happened. And if they didn't know what
happened, they would, as they use the Internet, they'd be able to find
those things.

You know, there were sites during the campaign that my children went and
saw some of which were not very complimentary. And they would ask them
about them.

I think if you read the book and said, "I'm Elizabeth Edwards' child and
I'm reading this book," I don't think you would think, what a terrible
thing she's done to this. I hope, in fact, a gift to them to tell them
that when things happen that you don't want to have happen in your life,
you can get through them.

I may not be there to say that. This book tells -- reminds them of that.

KING: How do they feel about their father?

EDWARDS: They feel great about their father. And I think part of that is
that we've talked about the fact that nobody is perfect and that this is
a way in which his imperfections actually hurt other people, and what it
is you do, is you try to make amends in the best way you can. And the
fact that he hurt not just me, but the whole family, in a sense, he's
been making incredible amends with them.

You know, he is, in the last months in particular -- he's always been a
great father. You know, someone who volunteers for coaching and
everything else. But now he is so incredibly involved in every part of
their lives, they're getting to see the man that I fell in love with,
which is great.

KING: You called it imperfection. That's all you'd call it?

EDWARDS: Well, you know, in my worst moments do I call it other things?
Yes, I do. You know? But the truth is, our flaw -- the human flaws that
participate in bad things happening in your life come in all different
forms.

Some of them hurt us more than others. This one hurt a lot.

KING: The book is "Resilience." Did Mrs. Edwards suspect her husband at
all? We'll talk about that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Elizabeth Edwards, the book appropriately titled
"Resilience." Out now and available everywhere.

You said you only asked John for one wedding gift, fidelity. That's
strikes some as odd, did you have a reason that that would to say to him
before you get married, the one I want is fidelity?

EDWARDS: I grew up in a Navy family. We had lots of different homes. And
although I loved my home and the permanence of it, those things weren't
important. We were never a family that had a lot.

We had enough, but not a lot. So jewels and things like that didn't
matter to me much. And you know, we drove a Ford station wagon until it
just quit driving -- you know, quit moving at all, probably for 20 years
when I was a kid. And that didn't matter to me.

But what did matter to me was that the relationship that we had and the
trust that we were able to put in one another, because I saw my mother
believe, as she was -- when I was a young girl I found journals that she
thought that my father had cheater on her when she had three very young
children. And...

KING: You being one of them.

EDWARDS: And I was the first of those. And I've no idea whether it
actually happened or not, but I know that she thought it did, and that
that -- it was a strong, incredibly beautiful, accomplished woman, being
undone by that.

Whether it was a rejection of her, or an attack on the institution she'd
put so much faith in. It undid her, and I just -- I didn't want to see
myself go down the same path. And so that's what I asked for.

KING: And what did he say?

EDWARDS: He said, of course. I mean, you know, I believed then and I
believe now and I believe through this whole thing John has loved me. I
just think that he had a frailty that allowed him to do something which
was completely contrary to the rest of his life.

KING: Did you have any suspicion any time?

EDWARDS: No, no.

KING: None.

EDWARDS: None. I mean...

KING: Not a question?

EDWARDS: Not...

KING: Man on the road a lot?

EDWARDS: Yes -- no, but he -- you know, he had been on the road for
quite some time, I mean, he was a lawyer who traveled, did cases all
over, but I saw the way he treated me, I knew the way he treated me, and
the way the commitment he had to our family, and I had -- you know, I
was -- perhaps, you know, the one thing I can agree with Maureen Dowd is
that I was probably naive.

I was certainly naive.

KING: How about the world "betrayal"?

EDWARDS: I think it is a betrayal. And I think John thinks that it is a
betrayal.

KING: Why didn't you get divorced?

EDWARDS: Because, you know, a marriage is -- we all know this, it's hard
work, you put it together and you work very hard on it. And the parts
that come in, good and bad, include for John that he is an
extraordinarily good man.

When he talked about poverty, he meant it. In fact, you know, as we
speak, he's working in El Salvador with the Fuller Center and the Homes
from the Heart, trying to make certain that people who don't have
shelter have that.

I mean, this is something he deeply cares about. That's a good man. He
has provided for us. He has -- you know, his fathering has been nearly
perfect. His caring for me, with this really big painful exception, has
been extraordinary, through Wade's death, through the cancer.

KING: But you have to think about it a lot, don't you? Or do...

EDWARDS: Oh no, you do. You have to say, is that -- is this piece, this
piece which is so painful, so big, that it obscures all of those other
things. And did I think about that? I did think about that. But in the
end I decided it did not.

KING: All right. When the story first appeared -- talking about
"Resilience," when the story first appeared in the tabloids, a friend
had to mention it to you, did you see this in the Enquirer?

EDWARDS: Yes.

KING: What did you say?

EDWARDS: You know, I remember a long time ago standing in a line and
seeing a picture in front of one these tabloid magazines of an old plane
surrounded by dust. And they said, "Abandoned World War II Plane Found
on the Face of the Moon."

And I thought, you know, isn't it odd that, you know, CNN and ABC and
everybody missed this story that was picked up by this tabloid. At the
same time that the stories appeared about John, there was exactly the
similar stories appearing about now President Obama.

You know, this is the fodder that they have.

KING: So you dismissed them.

EDWARDS: I dismissed them.

KING: What did he say?

EDWARDS: He said that they -- he told me that they weren't true. And
for, you know, a period of time, he was certainly untruthful to me. And,
you know, part of the betrayal is not just these -- the acts, but also
the breach of the trust that we had between us.

KING: How did you find out? Really find -- know the truth?

EDWARDS: John told me. He told me briefly after -- he told me after he
had done his announcement to run for president, he had gone to various
places and -- to do that, and came back to Chapel Hill. And after he had
done the announcement there, he told me.

It was the first time I had ever seen her. I didn't honestly know that
the videographer was a female. I mean, this is -- I was completely in
the dark.

KING: And naive.

EDWARDS: And naive.

KING: How do he say it?

EDWARDS: He just -- you know, we just went into our -- my family visits
at Christmas, which is great, and he just went -- we went into our
bedroom, and he said he had something, you know, he needed to tell me.

And that this person had traveled with him, was no longer traveling with
him, and would not. And he just -- you know, he was contrite. He wanted
-- you know, so wanted to hug me and hold me to comfort me and that's
not exactly the moment when I wanted to be hugged.

Later on there was plenty of time for that. But you know, he just told
me, and you know, I took it as I suppose most people do, which is very
badly.

KING: Was there a kind of, how could you?

EDWARDS: Oh, absolutely. You know, and I don't think he knows. I don't
think to this day he knows how he could do this, because if you asked
him to rank the things that are important to him, this wouldn't be on
the list.

And you know, it's just hard.

KING: Did he think that something would come out running for president?

EDWARDS: Well, I think that he thought that he believed that, you know,
what he had told me -- I don't know what he thinks, but what he had told
me was that it was a single night.

And you know, I thought that a single night would probably not come out.
It had been some time before and that if she had wanted to talk about
it, she would have plenty of opportunity in the interim to do so and had
chosen not to.

KING: We'll ask about the other people in the campaign right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Elizabeth Edwards, the book is "Resilience." You
do not name the woman who John had the affair with in your book. And
you've asked us out of consideration for you not to do so, and we will
respect that.

EDWARDS: Thank you.

KING: I'm glad we are respecting that. I will quote from the book. "It
felt that the ground underneath me had pulled away. I wanted him to drop
out of the race, protect our family from the woman from his act." Why
didn't he?

EDWARDS: He -- at the time he made a very good point, I had -- I have to
admit, then and now. And that was if he pulled out, you know, two days
after he had first announced, it was going to raise lots of questions.
Whenever anyone pulls out of the race, you know, unless they've just
been trounced in the days before, there's also -- always a lot of
questions about why that happened. In fact, when people decided not to
run for nomination this time, there were sometimes questions about them.

KING: What about the effect on the campaign workers? All those people
gave so much.

EDWARDS: Yes. I think it's been really -- it's been really hard for
John. I mean, he tried calling a lot of -- a lot of people who had
worked for him, trying to talk to them and ask them, you know, as he
asked me, for forgiveness for this -- for what he had done.

I think that -- you know, I don't think that they knew. I don't think
they had any idea during this process that -- that -- what was
happening. And -- and he feels like he's betrayed them.

What we told them, though, as he pulled out -- when he pulled out of the
race, which is before any -- before the magnitude of this was exposed,
he -- we talked to them and said, you know, "John's not going to be the
nominee. No -- none of us had anything to do with it. Not going to be
the nominee, but you needn't think that you did nothing. Because we're
talking about universal healthcare, because you helped get his universal
healthcare plan on the table early, and other people had to match it.
We're talking about poverty, which we -- which in the face of this
economic recession we have, maybe we're not paying as much attention to
now. And that's because of the work you did.

KING: Back with more of Elizabeth Edwards, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: I know, Elizabeth, this must be difficult for you. You also learned, obviously, there wasn't a one-night stand.

EDWARDS: I did. But I learned that, you know, a year and a half after --
after he first confessed to me. And long after the campaign was over.

KING: How did you feel about that?

EDWARDS: You know, it threw me. I have to be honest with you. I felt
like we had spent a very difficult year plus, trying to work through
this. And I like to say that I could just handle it; it's just one time.
But it was pretty devastating. And now I had to not only deal with that
and more, but I also had to deal with the fact that he hadn't been
honest with me. So, you know, the work on rebuilding trust was set back
a great deal. And -- and so we're still working on that.

KING: Every day?

EDWARDS: Every day.

KING: Is -- a baby was born.

EDWARDS: Right.

KING: He said he would take a test.

EDWARDS: Yes.

KING: Is he going to take a test?

EDWARDS: I have no idea. No...

KING: Have you asked him? That would be the first thing I'd ask.

EDWARDS: If it never came up, that would be fine with me. You know, I
don't -- I don't need to know, from my perspective, in terms of my
relationship with John. It doesn't, you know -- his acts and his not
being straightforward with me, those things are the things that have to
do with him and me.

KING: By not taking it, though, doesn't that indicate something?

EDWARDS: Yes, and by her not asking, you know, for some time. I don't
know. You know, I think -- I think that eventually whoever the father is
of this child will -- you know, will step up and -- you know, once they
know that that is -- they are the person, will step up and do the right
thing. I hope.

KING: If...

EDWARDS: Also, that we can -- you know, this little girl.

KING: And she -- she's got help (ph).

EDWARDS: She's certainly not responsible for anything that's happened.

KING: No. If, sadly, it is John...

EDWARDS: Right.

KING: ... don't your kids have to know?

EDWARDS: I -- I suspect...

KING: They have a half sibling.

EDWARDS: Right. I think that whoever the father is, if they have other
children, that -- you know, that's a conversation that needs to occur.

KING: What's day-to-day life like? You write of resilience.

EDWARDS: Right.

KING: What is it like?

EDWARDS: You know, it's pretty much like everybody else's life. I guess
maybe the people who -- whose husbands have been left -- laid off or
something. Because he's home all the time, when he's not in El Salvador
or doing something. He talks about issues that are important to him,
people who are -- who are working on those. He goes periodically -- he
went to Haiti and to do some work, and now in El Salvador. So he'll do
those things.

But most of the time, it's, you know, school lunches in the morning and
baseball games in the afternoon. And the truth is, I've been doing a lot
of putting away things. We moved into our house right before the
election started. I've got a lot of stuff in boxes to unpack. And I
don't have as much energy as I used to have. It's taking a little longer.

KING: Is he practicing law?

EDWARDS: He's not practicing law right now. It's not out of the question
that he does, but he's not doing that now.

KING: George Stephanopoulos claimed on his Sunday show that several
staffers believed early on John was having an affair and decided to
wreck the campaign if it looked like he was doing -- going to win the
nomination. What do you think (ph)?

EDWARDS: I don't think it makes any sense. These young people who work
on campaigns, I wish people got a chance to meet them. They are so
inspiring, these -- these people who spend their lives trying to get an
individual they believe in or a set of policies that they believe in to
be the thing that guides us in the future.

They -- if they are -- if the campaign that they're associated with is
unsuccessful, what they want to do is move to the campaign that is
successful. The earlier you do that, the better. There are more
positions available. So to hold on 'til the very end and then torpedo
your candidate, means that you have, you know -- we should be very -- if
he gets the nomination -- means that you have basically cut off your
opportunities to get those jobs in the future. It becomes known that you
were the person -- a person who torpedoed your candidate, your chances
of getting a job in the future are not very good.

Why -- these people who believed in John and people -- yes, they are, in
a sense (ph), a family. They would have gone to John and say, it seems
to me. Or gone to me. It would have been nice if they'd come to me and
told me.

KING: When we come back, I want to ask you, what would have happened if
he'd got the nomination? We'll be right back. The book is "Resilience."
Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Elizabeth Edwards. The book is "Resilience:
Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities." And
she has had her share. That's safe to say.

EDWARDS: It is.

KING: What if he had gotten the nomination?

EDWARDS: I...

KING: Tragedy, right?

(CROSSTALK)

KING: This would have broken and...

EDWARDS: Right, I...

KING: ... McCain is president.

EDWARDS: You know, well, McCain is not a particularly good person to
attack John on these particular issues. But...

KING: Why?

EDWARDS: I think by his own admission he -- his conduct was somewhat
similar. So -- quite some time ago. And I don't -- I'm not telling
tales. I mean, I think this is something he has been forthright about.

KING: So in a race between two guys...

(CROSSTALK)

EDWARDS: Right, two guys -- two guys, you know, who have these -- this
frailty. And we certainly know from history. We have a lot who have this
-- you know, have the same frailty.

KING: Well, what would happen? He gets the nomination, he destroys the
party.

EDWARDS: No, I think that it would have been very bad. And I think that
his -- going forward with his -- was part of his belief, which I think
most people in these circumstances believe that it will not come out.

I don't think that -- I think that most people who engage in this
conduct think that their spouse will never find out, that their
co-workers and friends will not find out.

(CROSSTALK)

EDWARDS: Right.

KING: Right. There is an ego thing.

EDWARDS: And that's what John has said, that he -- you know, that he...

KING: How did he do it? How did he get up? You're standing there. You
know it. He's saying, vote for me, and he knows, how did he do that? How
did he -- where did he get that?

EDWARDS: I don't know the answer to that. You know, what I knew was very
limited, and I could understand how he could -- you know, when we find
the perfect candidate, you know, the one without any mistakes in their
past, I suggest we all vote for him or look a little closer.

KING: In March 2007, just a few months after you learned of the affair,
John and you told the world your cancer had returned. This time
incurable. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've been married 30
years, known each other longer than that. And we will be in this every
step of the way together.

Any time, any place that I need to be with Elizabeth, I will be there,
period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Was he living a lie there?

EDWARDS: Well, I think everything he said at that time was true. I do
have to tell you when we got this diagnosis, this indiscretion of his,
which I thought to be one night, was just not in -- on my mind.

It was John's mind -- you know, maybe it was, but it was certainly not
on my mind. I mean, there was much bigger things to -- that were
occupying my mind at the time.

And you know, maybe I should have thought about it and said, this was a
good opportunity to do what we couldn't do in January. But it just --
you know, I -- we had come to a certain place that was, I thought, a
very good place. And we were able to sort of move forward without this
being part of every single day.

And then cancer was part of every single day.

KING: Aren't you curious about the woman?

EDWARDS: Well, you know, there has certainly been a lot written. And so
you know, I've...

KING: Would you like to meet her?

EDWARDS: I...

KING: I mean, some women would like to...

EDWARDS: Right.

KING: ... find out who was this who disrupted my life.

EDWARDS: Right. You know, I suppose I have some -- you know, I might
have some questions if I do, but I don't think that's a very useful
experience, (INAUDIBLE).

Part of what the book is about is accepting that your life has changed.
Part of maybe trying to meet with somebody, and -- you know, is to say
-- you know, to somehow say, I mean, it's not change, I'm just going to
-- you know, I'm going to minimize her in some way, which I have no
interest in doing, or try to push it aside.

This experience happened. My life is different. And it's a job for me,
when anything bad happens, as this was, to accept that this is my new
life, a life where I have to rebuild trust with somebody I love deeply.

KING: Now one thing I would think you would ask him, take the test, we
should all know if you're the father or not the father?

EDWARDS: Well...

KING: For all of the family -- for everybody's sake, for the child's
sake take the test.

EDWARDS: I mean...

KING: Wouldn't you ask him to do that?

EDWARDS: That's -- in terms of these issues, I don't need that. You
know, and if -- I don't think that he has expressed a hesitancy about it
at any point. But you know, those things will happen in time. That's
part of accepting the new reality, I think.

You know, for him, that's the new reality, include this, or not.

KING: For you it could be another resilience.

EDWARDS: Yes, thank you, I've already had -- I'm full now. I don't need
anything more.

KING: You're a great lady.

Elizabeth writes about her great love story, and we'll get to it next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Elizabeth Edwards. The book is "Resilience."

After the affair became public, John did an interview with ABC's
"Nightline." Let's look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

J. EDWARDS: The truth is you can't possibly beat me up more than I've
already beaten myself up.

BOB WOODRUFF, HOST, "NIGHTLINE": If you see this though in the reports,
you see this now breaks out.

KING: Yes.

EDWARDS: Why did you continue to deny it and not tell the truth?

KING: Because I did not want the public to know what I had done, very
simple.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Did you -- were you watching that?

EDWARDS: I did not watch it -- I mean, I didn't watch him...

KING: Didn't watch it live.

EDWARDS: Didn't watch it live. Separate part of the house, and I went
and -- I just went and occupied myself, not particularly effectively,
but I did something else for a little while why he did that, and watched
it later.

KING: Are you glad he did it?

EDWARDS: I don't know about that. You know, I think it has given people
permission to express their opinions about what we should or should not
do that is contrary to what I believe.

I talked about it a great deal after the cancer came back and people
said I shouldn't campaign after that. And they weren't in the position I
was in. It was hard for them to speak to it. People who actually had
cancer said, yes, of course, you go on with your life, of course you do
these things.

But maybe our talking about it gave them permission to express their
viewpoints. And so maybe this gave people permission that we really
weren't trying to do. He was trying to say, you know, instead of
dragging this out, this is what I did, I'm ashamed of it, I definitely
tried to keep it from people because I was ashamed of it.

But it's out and we're basically trying to close the door on the
discussion as opposed to opening the door on the discussion.

KING: Have you forgiven him?

EDWARDS: I have forgiven him. He still has to rebuild the trust but
honestly, I think we think of forgiveness as a gift we give somebody but
I think it's also a gift we give ourselves. I didn't understand ...

KING: That's the Christian concept.

EDWARDS: I never understood somebody who said, they forgive someone who
was driving drunk and killed their child. Certainly what we saw when the
Amish forgave the man with the schoolhouse. It was incomprehensible to
me. But now I'm in certainly a less stressful situation than either of
those but I see that my giving, my forgiving him has allowed me to let
go of a lot of the pain I was carrying around with me every day.

KING: Going to read from the book. "We had, I believed, the great love
story, bound as we were by triumph and defeat, by exhilarating
achievement, shattering grief. We had walked side by side for three
decades and in my foolish dreams would walk side by side, hand in hand
for three more. But even in my illness somehow allows me those days, it
will by necessity be different because at the very least I am a
different person now. I was not wounded, not afraid, not uncertain
before, now I always will be. He can try to treat the wound, and he has
tried. He can try to make me less afraid, and he has tried. But I am now
a different person."

And you can't go back.

EDWARDS: You can't. Maybe that naivete, that Maureen Down found so
offensive was actually a great gift to me and allowed me to believe that
what we had was so perfect and that was a nice place to live and I don't
live there any more.

KING: We know you can love him.

EDWARDS: I can.

KING: Are you in love with him?

EDWARDS: Yes. I am. I ...

KING: There's a difference.

EDWARDS: There is a difference but no, I am in love with him. I say in
the book, I'm in love with my whole family. I just - this is just - I
can't imagine anything more wonderful than my family. I mean I just - I
love the kids, I love the way everyone interacts with one another. I
love the way we've integrated Wade's death into our lives and the
strength that each one of them has shown.

KING: How did John speak to the children about this?

EDWARDS: He told them that he ...

KING: They're different ages ...

EDWARDS: He had a private conversation with our oldest daughter who is
27, was 26 at the time.

KING: Harvard Law, right.

EDWARDS: Right. Finished her last exam at Harvard Law School and I let
them have that conversation by themselves. He needn't feel like he was
talking to me. He should just be talking to her. And he did. The
conversation with the children was a conversation with the younger
children who were then eight and 10, now nine and 11, that conversation
we had together and the nobody is perfect and dad said I've made some
mistakes. And this is the mistake that I made and I feel terrible about
it for ...

KING: Do they have anger?

EDWARDS: They may have but not that they expressed. But if they do it's
something that they need to feel and work their way through.

KING: Who is a boy, who is a girl?

EDWARDS: The younger, Jack, is a boy. He had no questions. Emma Claire,
the older girl had - did have some questions. But whereas John is around
so much and taking so much care of them it used to be my older children
would say mom when they were talking to John, now they say dad when
they're talking to me because they're so used to his being omnipresent
in their lives which is a great, great thing.

KING: He's a better father now?

EDWARDS: He's a more present father now. I think he always was a great
father.

KING: What's the story behind Elizabeth occasionally not wearing her
wedding ring? Back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Elizabeth Edwards. Her book, "Resilience".

You told our friend Oprah that you didn't wear your wedding ring because
you jammed your finger. Armchair psychologists, three of them sitting
over there (ph), must read a whole lot into that. Did you really jam it?

EDWARDS: I really jammed it. This is actually sort of a funny story.
When John was running for the Senate, he runs and when he runs he used
to run with his ring and he would sweat and he lost the first wedding
ring that we ever had, he ever had and he'll take it off in the shower,
for the shower or something so one time he went to an event and he
wasn't wearing his ring, very early.

And this ring - so I went to a place where they sell rings, I said I'd
like to see your size nine wedding rings and she said, well, we have
five of them and I said, I'll take them all. And I'm sure she wondered
what in the world I was doing with them but I was making sure John had -
I made a little box for him, shadowbox after he ran for the Senate with
different things in it - and one of the things I put in it was the extra
wedding ring. That is actually a wedding ring that fits him. I wear a
size seven ring, that's a size nine. You can see the difference between
this finger and this one.

I really did jam my finger.

KING: It's none of my economic business but you do have some amount of
money. Why such a plain band?

EDWARDS: The first band that we got, we had no money and we went to one
of those ...

KING: (Inaudible).

EDWARDS: So you can see ...

KING: Oh my.

EDWARDS: My proof, now. That the first one - first wedding bands we got
when we had very little money, John's cost 22 dollars and looked like
this and mine cost 11 and they were very plain and we stuck with that.

KING: Back with more of John Edwards in his own words maybe, next. Don't
go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back. John Edwards is now facing a federal inquiry into how he spent his campaign funds. His political action committee paid more than $100,000 for video production to the firm of the woman he had an affair with. Edwards gave us this statement:

"I am confident that no funds from my campaign were used improperly.
However, I know that it is the role of government to ensure that this is
true. We have made available to the United States both the people and
the information necessary to help them get the issue resolved
efficiently and in a timely manner. We appreciate the diligence and
professionalism of those involved and look forward to a conclusion."

Where does that stand? Facing that federal inquiry?

EDWARDS: We've made all the - I say we - the campaign has made all of
the records available. Honestly, the use of campaign money is on the
Internet. Every check that's written from the campaign is reflected on a
disbursement section of the campaign reports that are made quarterly and
they're online. Anybody who wants to see them can check and see whether
any - where the money went. And what they'll see is money going to
people employed by the campaign who - and for expenses for travel and
reimbursements for if something was -- somebody used some property or
lent (ph) some property, those kinds of things. And we have complete
confidence that the funds were not used improperly.

KING: You were, were you not, very much involved in that campaign?

EDWARDS: You know, I care deeply about these issues. And in terms of the
financial part I was not involved.

KING: But you were...

EDWARDS: I thought of these young people in particular as part of my
family. So I felt very close to them.

KING: More from your book. This is the saddest part of all.

"It cannot bring him back. As much as I tried, as much as I prayed, I
could not let him go, which is what people who cared about me wanted. So
many people thinking they were taking care of me asked if I was over
Wade's death yet. "I will never be over it," I would tell them.

I can't imagine what it would be like to lose a child. It's unfathomable
to me.

EDWARDS: It is.

KING: A hundred times worse than infidelity and (INAUDIBLE).

EDWARDS: Yes.

KING: How did you deal with it?

EDWARDS: Well, the first thing I did was...

KING: How did he die?

EDWARDS: Wade was 16 years old and had been driving for a good period of
time. He worked in his father's law office and drove for them. He had
probably driven 15,000 miles, not an immense amount of experience, but
no tickets or anything.

And he was driving to the beach in a section of eastern North Carolina
where the wind pushed his car to the side of the road and it flipped.
And it killed him and the boy next to him walked away, which was -- I'm
really glad that he did.

KING: The wind?

EDWARDS: The wind. It was a strong wind. In fact, I got letters from
other people saying that their cars had also been moved. In fact, a
woman who drove the same kind of car that Wade drove, that she had
precisely the same problem where, you know, these strong winds would
come and...

KING: Where were you? How did you hear about it?

EDWARDS: John had picked -- Cate and I were on a trip, and John picked
us up from the airport and we were going to follow to the beach. But
before we got to the point of getting into the car, the highway patrol
pulled up. And the highway patrol pulling into your house really can
only mean...

KING: Was he a senator then?

EDWARDS: No, he was not. We were just regular citizens. And...

KING: And the highway patrol told you?

EDWARDS: The highway patrol told us. You know, it was a tape that plays
in my head a lot more than any of this other stuff that's covered by the
press so closely.

KING: What do you say? What do you do? This little girl was with you?

EDWARDS: Our daughter Cate, who's now 27, was 14 at the time. And she
was upstairs. I went to the door and John was in our room, where we all
converged.

But the first thing I did was sort of fall to the floor and just
screaming, "No!" That is actually how I felt. You know, it can't be true.

And as I moved through next weeks, first days being you're just in
shock. But as I moved through the next weeks and months, I had this idea
that God was going to find some way to turn back time and he was going
to be alive.

I would see somebody mowing their lawn and say, no, no, no. Or don't
build a porch or don't -- if everything stays the same, God can do what
I always hoped he would, and that was to save the innocents. And I
realized, of course, in time that that wasn't so. And only when I came
to that recognition was I able to incorporate Wade as a memory, rather
than Wade who was a boy who was going to return next week into my life.

KING: Do you think about him a lot?

EDWARDS: All the time. All the time. And he's a member of our family. He
didn't quit being that.

The younger children -- Emma Claire so poignantly one time came in and
said, "You know what makes me really sad about Wade?" And I said,
"What?" And she said, "That Jack never got to know him." Well, she
didn't either, but she thought she did because he was so much a part of
our family life.

KING: You were 48 and 50 when the next two came. I was. I had my AARP
card in front of me when I was pregnant with Jack.

EDWARDS: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Elizabeth Edwards.

The book is "Resilience."

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: One more from the book.

"As I have felt further less-devastating blows in the years after Wade's
death, I cannot understand how I merited these blows. What did I do?
Even though I think I know better, I still continued to ask and
continued to wonder."

Do you have any guilt?

EDWARDS: Actually, guilt is one of the things you might go through in
grieving. I don't really feel guilt. There's a lot of times when I've
certainly wondered, what did I do wrong to cause Wade's death? I tried
to buy him a safe car and, you know, we did all that work to make
certain that he was in a safe vehicle, and yet this happened.

Did I not teach him enough? But, you know, in truth, I knew it was one
of the things.

With the cancer, you know, did I drink the wrong things or eat the wrong
things? I'm not a smoker, I don't have -- I don't engage in very much
conduct that might create this. But you still have to ask yourself those
questions. And certainly with the latest indiscretion, you know, what
did I do to cause this to happen?

And I have to recognize with each of these things, they just happen. You
didn't have to do something wrong to justify them. You still sort of
wonder, is there some grand plan where you've done something someplace else?

KING: Did it test your faith?

EDWARDS: It absolutely tests your faith. You have to think about what
God means to you. The God that I believed in before...

KING: Is not the same God?

EDWARDS: ... is not the same God. There's a great line in -- Bill Moyers
did a show, "Genesis," and somebody -- at one point somebody said, "You
get the God you have, not the God you want."

The God I wanted was going to intervene. He was going to turn time back.
The God I wanted was -- I was going to pray for good health and he was
going to give it to me.

Why in this complicated world, with so much grief and pain around us
throughout the world, I could still believe that, I don't know. But I
did. And then I realized that the God that I have was going to promise
me salvation if I lived in the right way and he was going to promise me
understanding. That's what I'm sort of asking for, what -- let me
understand why I was tested.

KING: Why.

How do you face the possibility of not being around?

EDWARDS: It's really hard. I try to organize their lives so that they
will have signs of my presence and memories.

Emma Claire wanted -- asked for her birthday a trip with me. And even
though I'm thinking of an 11-year-old, and I'm carrying the luggage and
doing -- can I really handle all that? I still want to give it to her
even though I think it's going to be a hard -- a physically hard thing
to do.

KING: Have someone carry the luggage.

EDWARDS: Yes. Actually, I've been trying to talk her into one of these
tours where they -- you know, you just arrive at the hotel and the
luggage...

KING: Why not? You know, what's really double sad, if, God forbid, you
left, John would probably be double crushed. Guilt plus...

EDWARDS: I completely agree with that. And in fact, one of the things --
we've talked about that and talked about his -- you know, his work in
rebuilding trust and how it's really important that he get to that place
in time so that he understands that what he took away he did his very
best job to put back.

KING: Many times when a child dies parents divorce.

EDWARDS: They do. Seventy percent, I think. Some huge, huge number.

KING: Seventy, yes. Guilt toward each other, anger.

EDWARDS: Right.

KING: That never went on with you?

EDWARDS: Never. We went through this process together, and I will never
-- you know, it's one of the things that keeps us together now, is that
he was so spectacular.

And I realized later -- at first I thought we just need exactly the same
thing. I realized later he was actually giving me gifts all along. The
things I needed were the things he did.

I needed to go to the grave every day. So though he didn't need to and
sometimes didn't want to, he went anyway so that we would be together
and we would feel each other's strength as we tried to deal with this
strategy.

KING: You OK?

EDWARDS: I am OK.

KING: Thanks, dear.

EDWARDS: Thank you.

# # #


8 Comments

Thank you Larry and Elizabeth for the interview this evening. I am thankful for a woman who is real and natural with more intimate sharing of life regarding her own family and one that has a public life and love of our nation and politics.

You are a fine woman Elizabeth. I appreciate your candor, love and patience with us all as you move through the changes your life has presented.

I am grateful for your gift of the book to the world, especially your family and the American people. You are a wonderful model of the importance of valuing our own experience and intimate relationships and how to weather the experiences that may occur in them, those we like and those we find challenging.

I appreciate your love of John and your family. May your way be rich with satisfaction and grace, meeting those that enrich your knowledge of how beautiful a person you are and who also make you aware of how your life has touched many of us through your generous sharing of what is important to you.

thanks Larry for asking questions that are direct and very odd at times, yet you do it with great respect and true care of people. You did this with Elizabeth Edwards tonight.


This interview just makes me cry!!
What an incredibly strong woman!!
I never knew much about Mrs. Edwards..
I just love her and will pray for her..

I LOVED ELIZABETH EDWARDS. PLEASE LARRY HAVE HER ON MORE. SHE IS A LOVING WIFE AND MOTHER AND A WARM HUMAN BEING. PRETTY TOO.GOD BLESS HER AND KEEP HER HEALTHY, SHE SHOULD FORGIVE HER HUSBAND AND PRAY HE DOES NOT STRAY AGAIN. THE CANCER MAY HAVE SCARED HIM AND HE SOUGHT COMFORT IN THE OTHER WOMEN.WHICH IS NOT BY ANY MEANS THE THING TO DO. I AM A DEVOUT CATHOLIC AND WILL PRAY FOR HER. I THINK PEOPLE SHOULD LEAVE HR ALONE AND TRYING TO TELL HER TO LEAVE HER HUSBAND. SHE KNOWS HER TIME ON PLANET EARTH IS SHORT AND WHY GO THRU MORE HEARTACHE WITH DIVORCE.THANKY YOU CHRISTINE MENDENHALL. MICHIGAN

yo...'bout that privacy? why not just get her on a postage stamp why don't ya. we have a poster child but if i spell out for what, lynn won't print it.

What an intelligent, caring, and beautiful lady, she is. I was deeply touched by her appearance on Larry King and pray for her well being !

Her book just came out and now she is talking about this, please give me a break!

Elizabeth Edwards is one of my heroes, demonstrating strength and grace to all of us in the face of such adversity. We are frail beings, and helping each other deal with life's problems is something the Edwards family seems to have perfected. I take inspiration from her most. My husband is driven to flirt, and may have been involved more than I know, and denies it. She has shown me how to forgive, and learn, and hold on to what is truly valuable. The trust is constantly being rebuilt, but love does win out, and she shows us how it's done. Thank you, Elizabeth.

Look at Sanford's wife's comments this week-she says it all - politicians think they're not like everyone else. Elizabeth Edwards is in TOTAL denial when she says she didn't see any of this. If she EVER attended any event with her husband she saw the syncophants.AND she LIED during his campaign-I know she's sick, but what I see is a woman who is now VERY bitter that she didn't have a career and she was made to look foolish. I feel sorry that she didn't have the career that she worked for-but I don't feel sorry for her doing the book and tv tour-it's disingenuous.

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets

Video

Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 12, 2009 6:06 PM.

Chris Kennedy, mulling Illinois Senate bid may need name ID boost was the previous entry in this blog.

President Obama official schedule and guidance, May 13, 2009. Commencement address at Arizona State University is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.