John Edwards Talks, But Not About Her

Ex-presidential candidate sets rules for interview

By Greg Wilson
|  Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009  |  Updated 2:00 PM CDT
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John Edwards Talks, But Not About Her

John Edwards has not been heard from much since dropping out of the presidential race. He's finally talking, but not about the affair that ended his bid.

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Disgraced former presidential candidate John Edwards has resurfaced, but don't ask him about his paramour and that baby that just might be his.

In an interview with the Washington Post, the former North Carolina senator discussed how hard he fights for the poor, how much he wants to help people and his lonely days in his 28,000-square-foot mansion outside of Chapel Hill. Strangely, Edwards' alleged affair with Rielle Hunter, her baby's paternity and a federal investigation into whether he used campaign funds to buy her off were off-limits.

Edwards seems to believe the country needs him more than ever.

"What happens now? If you were to ask people during the campaign who's talking most about [poverty], it was me," Edwards told the Post. "There's a desperate need in the world for a voice of leadership on this issue... The president's got a lot to do, he's got a lot of people to be responsible for, so I'm not critical of him, but there does need to be an aggressive voice beside the president."

Nearly a year ago, Edwards finally 'fessed up to cheating on his terminally-ill wife with a campaign associate back in 2006, taking pains to point out that at the time, her cancer was in remission.

Shortly afterward, he pretty much dropped out of sight. In October, he mourned the death of pal financial supporter Fred Baron, the rich lawyer who paid to move Hunter and her baby to Santa Barbara. In December, he helped deliver food and medication to Haiti.

Last month, his wife Elizabeth went on a media tour for her new memoir. She told Oprah Winfrey that she had "no idea" if her husband was the father of Hunter's baby girl, despite his earlier avowal that it was not. Asked if she still loved her husband, Elizabeth Edwards said, "It's complicated."

While his wife was promoting her book and opening a furniture store, Edwards was in El Salvador, helping a group called Homes from the Heart with its work building houses and clinics and distributing sewing machines. The group's director, Michael Bonderer, was surprised when Edwards accepted his invitation.

"Obviously, he's got some problems, but he's a nice guy," Bonderer said. "I kind of didn't know that. I thought, 'What in God's name am I going to have when he gets here?' But he's a pretty down to earth guy."

Edwards was funny, Bonderer told the Post. "He jokes about how it's obvious that the American people don't want him to be president."

For his part, Edwards isn't ruling out a return to politics, but says that's not what he's focusing on now.

"The two things I'm on the planet for now are to take care of the people I love and to take care of people who cannot take care of themselves," Edwards said in the interview.

Edwards, who is worth $30 million and made a seven-figure salary working for a hedge fund after his failed bid for vice president in 2004, said  he may have been hurt by his own main issue. 

"There's a reason why it's been many years since a politician made this issue central to him -- and, I might add, I didn't get elected," he said. "There aren't many votes in helping poor people. "

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