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Video: Ex-Sen. Edwards and wife Elizabeth split

  1. Closed captioning of: Ex-Sen. Edwards and wife Elizabeth split

    >> meredith, thank you. as lisa myers first reported last week, john and elizabeth edwards , who have been married for 32 years now, are now separated. "people" magazine's washington correspondent sandra soberi-westfall, interviewed her sister for "people's" next issue. sandra , good morning.

    >> good morning.

    >> where do i start? let's start by talking about elizabeth edwards . i mean, this is someone who's dealt with so much over the last several years, a health crisis, headlines from this scandal and now it seems as if it keeps regurgitating and getting worse. you talked to her sister for this article. how did she say she's holding up?

    >> for three years, she's dealt with this sort of unraveling lie that's come out in pieces and now there are more pieces to come. but nancy , the sister, told me that she's actually doing really well, that she's feeling a lot stronger now that she's decided to break free and reclaim her identity. her health is pretty good for somebody with stage four cancer. she's energetic and looking forward to a new future.

    >> she's looking forward to getting the drama behind her. and now it has been confirmed that they've separated. i guess some people might ask the question why now. why did this separation come now when this story has been brewing for so long?

    >> you know, it was sort of a build-up of distrust that just became toxic. i mean, even as recently as weeks before christmas , she met with this baby, quinn , brought her christmas presents, was really making an attempt to adjust their family to the new normal that john's infidelity had forced upon her, but it just -- there was just too much distrust after three years.

    >> you say that. i mean, this meeting of christmas , the bringing of christmas gifts to quinn by elizabeth edwards , it's almost surreal to imagine that she somehow finds it in herself to go and visit this child that has been fathered by her husband with his mistress and try to have some sort of even surface relationship.

    >> as we were told, she was trying to lay the path for her own children, who she knew after she was gone were going to have a relationship with their half sibling because john was committed to being in the child's life. and elizabeth knows she's not going to be here as long as she had hoped, and she's going to leave children behind who need an intact family.

    >> well, let's talk about those children, the edwards children, not quinn here, i'm talking about cate and claire and jack. what did nancy say about how they're doing?

    >> as well as can be expected. it's hard. jack doesn't talk very much and claire has asked for permission to confide in a girlfriend, and had back in the summer when they were first told by their father about this half sibling . it was back in the summer. john said, you know, i intend to have a relationship with her. i hope you will, too, but i'm not going to force that on you. let me know when you're ready.

    >> john edwards released a statement on the separation, and it came out yesterday. here it is. it says, "it is an extraordinarily sad moment, but i love my children more than anything and still care deeply about elizabeth ." i mean, it's hard not to notice the words care deeply, as i love my children, i care deeply about elizabeth . that doesn't say good things for the future of this relationship. any chance of reconciliation?

    >> you know, his friends say that he hopes that there is, and they say he still loves her. nancy even says he's still very sweet to her at times. it's just the build-up of distrust, that john couldn't go through life having her always check his cell phone, and elizabeth didn't feel like, you know, she was getting the life she wanted, always distrusting everything that came out of his mouth.

    >> quickly, going back to that meeting at christmas , where elizabeth met quinn . was rielle hunter there?

    >> she was not. and we're told that john has no contact with her. john's parents, by the way, though, have met with eriel and have visited the baby several times and have embraced her as their granddaughter.

    >> where is elizabeth finding strength these days? who does she turn to for support?

    >> you know, she's reaching back to her old friends, her family, the people that knew her as elizabeth ann anaya. on her facebook, she's elizabeth ann anaya edwards. she's taking a trip to japan. she's taking a painting class. she used to be a very accomplished artist, and she's looking forward by looking almost further back.

    >> "people" magazine sandra westfall, thank you for your time. i appreciate it. you can read the full interview in "people" when it hits newsstands tomorrow.

    >>> let's get a check of

TODAY staff and wire
updated 1/28/2010 8:08:17 AM ET 2010-01-28T13:08:17

Former presidential candidate John Edwards said Wednesday he still cares deeply about his wife despite the couple's separation.

"It is an extraordinarily sad moment, but I love my children more than anything and still care deeply about Elizabeth," Edwards said in a statement to The Associated Press.

A friend of Elizabeth Edwards confirmed Wednesday that the couple is separated. Elizabeth's sister, Nancy Anania, told the AP that she remains strong.

"She's doing as well as you could expect," Anania said. "I'm really proud of her that, somehow, she's got strength that you rarely see in a person."

In PEOPLE's latest cover story, Anania said Elizabeth Edwards has had enough.

"She said, 'I've had it. I can't do this. I want my life back,' " she said.

The statements come as a former aide to Edwards prepares to release a tell-all book that gives an unflattering portrait of the couple and the tumultuous relationship they tried to maintain after he first acknowledged his affair on the campaign trail. It also comes one week after John Edwards finally made a public declaration that he fathered a child, now almost 2 years old, with his mistress.

It's another wrenching twist for a couple that had previously weathered the death of a 16-year-old son and her ongoing battle with incurable cancer.

They were law school sweethearts who got married just days after they took the bar exam together in the summer of 1977. Though John Edwards later went on to make millions as a trial lawyer, the couple had humble beginnings: He had to borrow money from her parents for a one-night honeymoon. She always wore her $11 wedding ring. For years they spent their anniversaries going to Wendy's, just as they did on their first one.

'Unconscionable, hurtful, patently false'
Former aide Andrew Young initially claimed that he fathered the child with John Edwards' mistress in the weeks leading up to the crucial presidential primaries. John Edwards publicly declared last week that he was the father of the child with Rielle Hunter, who worked as a videographer before his second presidential campaign in 2008.

Image: John and Elizabeth Edwards
Gerry Broome  /  AP file
This March 22, 2007 file photo shows two-time presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth during a news conference in Chapel Hill, N.C. Elizabeth Edwards has separated from her husband after a tumultuous three years in which the couple's marital troubles became tabloid fodder.
Young's upcoming book details how Edwards went to great lengths to hide the affair. In excerpts from an ABC News interview, Young said that Edwards asked him to find a doctor who might fake a paternity test and asked him to steal a diaper from the baby to determine whether it was really his. He also claims that the Edwardses sought to politicize Elizabeth's cancer diagnosis.

The statement released on behalf of Elizabeth Edwards said she will not engage in a dialogue on "false charges" in the book.

"Based on the limited portions of the book that have been made available, it is clear it contains many falsehoods and exaggerations," she said. She responded to one point, saying the suggestion that she capitalized on her cancer is "unconscionable, hurtful and patently false."

The PEOPLE story describes a meeting between Elizabeth Edwards and 23-month-old Frances Quinn Hunter — the baby John fathered with Hunter — in a mediated visit at a North Carolina hotel.

Video: John Edwards admits fathering Hunter’s child "She gave it a lot of thought, wrapped up a bunch of Christmas presents, took them to the baby and was so pleased when Quinn made a beeline to the toy carriage and doll," Anania told PEOPLE. "She even said to Quinn, 'Go stand next to Daddy.' And she took a picture. 

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"I don't know how she could do that," Anania added. "She just has a big heart."

Elizabeth Edwards has an incurable form of cancer that returned in 2007 as the couple was campaigning for the presidency. She said last week that her health got worse for a period but has been recently improving.

John Edwards, a former North Carolina senator and 2004 Democratic vice presidential candidate, has largely stayed secluded since first admitting the affair in August 2008. He denied fathering a child with Hunter at that time. He has acknowledged a federal investigation into his campaign finances.

‘Like watching a traffic pileup’
Young's book recounts how Edwards asked Young to help cover up the affair with Hunter and promised to take care of him in the future. The book, "The Politician," is not due out until Saturday.

Young provides an unflattering portrait of Edwards, talking about his obsession with campaign donations, his fixation with his hair, his disapproval of "fat rednecks" at state fairs and the lengths he went to hide the affair. 

A longtime aide to Edwards, Young describes the discovery of a videotape showing Edwards and a naked Hunter.

"It was like watching a traffic pileup occur in slow motion — it was repelling but also transfixing," he writes, according to the Journal.

Edwards spent part of last week in Haiti helping with relief efforts. His wife has declined to discuss their marital status.

This story contains information from The Associated Press and People.com.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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