TODAY   |  March 29, 2013

Cate Edwards on family: ‘Their pain is my pain’

Cate Edwards, the eldest daughter of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, sat down with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie to talk about her father’s infidelity, the loss of her mother, Elizabeth, and the future of her father’s career.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> we'll begin with our exclusive interview with the eldest interview of former democratic presidential candidate john edwards and his late wife elizabeth . she's launching a new program to carry on her mother's legacy and for the first time cate is opening up about her father's trial. you'll find cate edwards these days hard at work on two labors of love, the law practice she started last year in washington, d.c.

>> hey, i'm cate .

>> and the elizabeth edwards foundation in raleigh where she's launching a program designed to do what her mother love , help underprivileged students reach their promise.

>> the goal is really to provide someone with an elizabeth . she really was in all facets of her life starting at home, a great encourager, a great mentor, and i think that this really encapsulates who she was as a human being throughout her entire life, really encouraging people to reach their full potential.

>> it was almost one year ago that this was cate edwards ' daily routine, a steady presence by her father's side as he faced criminal charges that he used campaign contributions to cover up an extra marital affair. what made you decide to support him in such a public way?

>> well, he's my dad, i love him. we love each other and we support each other and that's -- that's just how our family is.

>> the trial laid bare the seemiest details of her father's very public fall from grace and betrayal of her mother with a month-long romance with rielle hunter, a woman hired to shooed web videos for his campaign. were there ever moments when you thought you made your bed, lie in it?

>> i did not fault my dad for the trial. he made those mistakes, there's no question, but i never thought he did anything illegal so i didn't think it was right.

>> was it hard to sit in that trial sometimes?

>> yeah. i mean, it was difficult for family to see this very private, very difficult part of our lives rehashed in front of everyone, but there was nowhere else i would have rather been at the time. i'm cate edwards .

>> in her short 31 years cate has experienced exhilarating highs and heart wrenching lows, the tragic death of her teenage brother wade when she was just 14, her father's lightning fast rise to the national political sta stage.

>> the cancer has returned.

>> her mother's prolonged battle with cancer. through it all, her family had remained solid and intact but then news of her father's affair shattered their world. did you first find out about it from him?

>> yes, he told me. he and my mom decided that, you know, that's how it needed to be done, so, yeah, i was devastated and disappointed. i mean, these are my parents. i had grown up with a lot of love in that family, and it was hard to see them go through this.

>> were there times when you didn't talk to your dad?

>> i don't think we ever went through that, no. i mean, we're a family of talkers, so we try to talk through and get through things. there was a time i was angry with him, of course, but we worked through it.

>> rielle hunter, have you ever met her?

>> i have a long time ago, early in the campaign.

>> i'm sure she's mott someone you spend a great deal of time thinking about.

>> that's correct.

>> she wrote a book, and she said some pretty unpleasant things about your mom. i'm not going to repeat them. did that make you mad?

>> yeah, of course. yeah. i mean, i just thought it was -- i thought it was a poor choice, i guess. that's all i can say.

>> was it hard to forgive him?

>> i think it's easier to stay angry than it is to forgive someone. forgiveness is a tough thing, but, yes, it was hard, but we worked through it.

>> do you think your mom forgave him?

>> i think she did. i don't know the answer to that. i think she had a mix of emotions.

>> i think the family let it be known he was there at the end with her.

>> yes. he was. he called and said can i come. i said, mom, can dad come, and she said yes. the three of us, especially, have been through so much together, so we garner a lot of strength from one another, and i think being together during that time and also for the kids, to have their family together during that time, was incredibly important.

>> that family now also includes frances quinn, the daughter rielle hunter gave birth to five years ago.

>> are you able to have any kind of relationship with her, quinn?

>> well, i mean, yeah, she's my sister, and she's -- she's just a really sweet, innocent little girl , and -- and, yeah, i certainly think of her as part of our family.

>> cate remains close to her father, now a single dad, raising cate 's younger siblings, emma claire 14 and jack who is 12.

>> do you think your dad will ever run for office again?

>> i doubt that, highly.

>> there's still some good things i can do.

>> i think there is still good things he can do, and there's still good he wants to do, but as a private citizen.

>> kate is enjoying married life . in october 2011 she walked down the aisle with her college sweetheart trevor upham, a surgery resident and the cancer researcher who has been with cate through the toughest of times. what's the cate that you know in.

>> strong and loyal, you know. she's beautiful inside and out.

>> he wants to say messy, but he feels like he can't say that.

>> that's true.

>> in their georgetown home there are signs of cate 's mother everywhere, an elizabeth is never far from her thoughts.

>> i imagine you miss her every day.

>> it's big things that go by like my wedding, she wasn't able to be there and small things. i get away with bad grammar . never used to get away with bad grammar . really miss her during march madness because she loves college basketball and we were very superstitious so she would call me and say are you sitting in your living room. you need to get into the kitchen, we're not playing well.

>> the "new york times" wrote a piece about you during the trial, the enigma besides edwards.

>> do you think it was that complicated?

>> it's not that complicated. i love my family, and there's -- and i'm loyal to them, and i care about them, and their pain is my pain, and that's as complicated as it gets.

>> our conversation with cate edwards . i found her to be incredibly poised, someone of great strength, inner strength , who has had her share of heartbreak but has handled it so gracefully.

>> i think the poise comes from years in politics or being around politics. you learn what to say and what not to say and a kind of presence, but also from your questions with her, which i thought were great, you get a real sense that there's still conflict there.

>> she's been through a lot and had this situation with her father and her mother, but for her it's about family, and she wants to stick by her family. carrying on her mom's legacy with the elizabeth edwards foundation and wrote a special post for our website all about the foundation. read it b it on "today".com and see more of our exclusive on "rock center with brian williams " and