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Rielle Hunter dishes on her affair with John Edwards

Rielle Hunter

Jim R. Bounds/AP

All bleach-fried hair and residual Florida drawl, Rielle Hunger has bubbled up again to naysay the late Elizabeth Edwards, this time in her new tell-all, What Really Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter and Me, publishing next week.

In the memoir, Ms. Hunter, mistress to then 2008 presidential hopeful John Edwards, details the raging fights he had with his wife Elizabeth, who died of cancer in 2010. Ms. Hunter also suggests that Elizabeth used her disease and her children as weapons in the bitter marital feuds, criticizing how the cuckolded wife handled the affair, which she describes as possessing "intensity like a rock concert."

"Elizabeth requested all the tapes (I'd made of the campaign). She locked herself in a room to watch," Ms. Hunter writes in the book. "On one tape she saw Johnny walking into a room and his reaction to seeing me. She apparently told him that he never once looked at her the way he looked at me. So she took that bit and put it on her computer as a screen saver in order to watch it over and over again."

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In 2008, Ms. Hunter gave birth to Mr. Edwards' daughter, Quinn, now 4. Last month, Mr. Edwards was acquitted on charges of accepting illegal campaign contributions – allegedly to hide the affair and keep Ms. Hunter satisfied, and quiet, with a cushy life in North Carolina.

On Friday, ABC will air its 20/20 interview with Ms. Hunter, with host Chris Cuomo asking the obvious: "What do you think the reaction is when the woman who's sleeping with the husband starts talking about the wife, who is now dead from cancer?"

"There are a lot of people who will go, 'Wow, I understand, I get it,' and there are a lot of people who will be outraged," Ms. Hunter replies.

"The full truth needs to be in the public domain. Their father's not a demon and their mother's not a saint and I'm not a home-wrecker. We are real human beings and there was a real dynamic that was going on – good and bad, and we all made mistakes."

Ms. Hunter points out she's not the first woman to fall in love with a married man, or the last, and she tells Mr. Cuomo that "their marriage was ruined before I got there" – that old philanderers' chestnut. She also claims Mr. Edwards had piles of mistresses, at one time living simultaneously with three different women: one in Chicago, one in Florida and one in Los Angeles.

Today, against all odds, Ms. Hunter and Mr. Edwards are "still together as a couple." He comes over for days on end to play with Quinn, cook and empty out the dishwasher, among other tasks, Ms. Hunter told People.

"Marriage? Have no idea," she said. "I'm not a big fan of the institution but never say never."

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Zosia More


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