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Mistress says she didn't wreck John Edwards' home

Published:Saturday | May 1, 2010 | 12:00 AM

CHICAGO (AP): John Edwards' mistress said on Thursday's episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show that she doesn't believe she destroyed the former presidential candidate's marriage.

"It is not my experience that a third party wrecks a home," Rielle Hunter told Winfrey. "I believe the problems exist before a third party comes into the picture."

"So you don't think you wrecked his home?" Winfrey asked Hunter.

"I do not believe I wrecked his home," Hunter said.

Hunter's appearance on Winfrey's show is her first televised interview since the former North Carolina senator first admitted two years ago that he had an affair with her. In January, Edwards said he and Hunter have a two-year-old daughter after initially denying it. He and his wife, Elizabeth Edwards, are now separated.

Hunter told Winfrey she believes people see her negatively because of the affair.

"A lot of people bought into the myth of the marriage, the Edwardses' marriage, as being a storybook story and it was so perfect and so wonderful and I destroyed it," Hunter said. "It fits into the two-dimensional storyline."

Hunter told Winfrey she met Edwards at a hotel and she "just turned to him and said, 'You're so hot' and he practically jumped in my arms." She said the two had four-hour-long phone conversations and she fell in love with him.

She also said Edwards was in "extreme conflict" about running for president.

"He didn't know if it was the right thing to do because he had personal problems," Hunter said.

phone call

She said Elizabeth Edwards found out about the affair by finding a cellphone that Hunter had purchased for Edwards. Hunter said Elizabeth Edwards made a call on the phone.

"I answered the phone, said, 'Hey baby', and she hung up on me," Hunter said.

Hunter said John Edwards was "very gracious" when he found out she was pregnant, but that it happened at the wrong time. She said the couple didn't use birth control.

"He was married to someone else," Hunter said. "He's in the middle of running for the presidency. It's not great timing."

Hunter said it wasn't until after John Edwards gave an interview to ABC News in August 2008 that he "came clean with" Elizabeth Edwards that he was the father of Hunter's baby. John Edwards admitted the affair in the interview, but denied the baby was his.

GQ magazine last month published an interview with Hunter in which she addressed the scandal. She told the magazine the affair ended in July 2008 and that the relationship is now something "different". On Thursday, she refused to tell Winfrey the status of her relationship with Edwards, saying it's "private".

Hunter also posed for photos for GQ that show her on a bed, barelegged in a man's white dress shirt and a pearl necklace. In another shot, she's lying on her back holding her daughter in her arms.

Hunter told Winfrey posing for the photos was a "huge mistake".

"What I was thinking was I would like to have one sexy shot where the world can see me as a beautiful woman as opposed to all those photos that are out there of me looking like some Wicked Witch of the West," Hunter said.

Elizabeth Edwards appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show last May and discussed John Edwards' infidelity, her struggle with terminal cancer and her memoir detailing how she coped with both. Winfrey did not mention Hunter's name during the interview, a condition Elizabeth Edwards requested.

'A lot of people bought into the myth of the marriage, the Edwardses' marriage, as being a storybook story and it was so perfect and so wonderful and I destroyed it.'