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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Encore: Interview with Elizabeth Edwards
Aired May 17, 2009 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, prime time exclusive -- Elizabeth Edwards does not hold back. Her husband admitted the ultimate betrayal after he got caught.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH EDWARDS, JOHN EDWARDS' WIFE: I think it is a betrayal and I think John thinks that it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And he might have fathered a child while she campaigned for him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARDS: I think that eventually, whoever the father is of this child, will step up and do the right thing, I hope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: How could he, why did he cheat on her while she was stricken with incurable cancer?
Edwards reveals why she's still with him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARD: A marriage is -- we all know this -- is hard work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: If she's forgiven him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARD: This one hurt a lot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And why she wrote a tell-all book about it, next on LARRY KING LIVE.
It's a great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE -- known her quite some time now, always great seeing her -- Elizabeth Edwards, here in Los Angeles, "The New York Times" best-selling author.
Her new book is "Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities." There you see its cover.
She's the wife of the former Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards.
And before we get into this extraordinary book, why you wrote it, details about it -- an extraordinary, of course, automatic best-seller -- how are you doing physically?
EDWARDS: I'm doing all right. You know, it's -- I'd like for, you know, to be killing the cancer a little bit at a time and be on this constant downward slide -- or maybe it's upward -- but -- but it's not like that. It's up and down. And so I've had some bad results. But right now I'm on a very good track. And the medicine I'm taking right now seems to be working. And I feel pretty good.
KING: All right is not a great answer.
EDWARD: Well, I...
KING: You'd like to hear great.
EDWARDS: Well, you know, the truth is, the medicine has side- effects. You know, I have very dry hands, very dry feet, I have some numbness, some aches and pains.
KING: Have you lost hair?
EDWARDS: Oh, yes. I have to tell you, you have wonderful people who made this look like a full head of hair, but it's not really quite that.
KING: You don't have a full head of hair?
EDWARDS: No, well, it's not...
KING: But it's not a wig?
EDWARDS: This is not a wig. This is the real thing made great by Larry King's staff.
KING: Are you in any stage, as they say?
EDWARDS: Stage four and...
KING: That's the last stage.
EDWARDS: Well, we're hoping if we don't move from that stage, you know, you're -- you're fine.
KING: The fear is it spreads, right?
EDWARDS: The fear is that it spreads. And it did spread a little bit from the -- from March of 2007. That was the -- that was when I had -- when I said the ups and downs. It spread to a bone in my thigh. And -- but the last test I had, everything seem to be stabilized. KING: We wish you nothing but the best.
EDWARDS: Thanks very much.
KING: A lot of people are asking why -- why did you ever write all this?
EDWARDS: I actually agreed to write it quite some time ago. And I did it because I thought I had something to say.
I speak all the time across the country, on health care, generally, because I work doing us -- talking about health care. That's my job. And -- but, also, there are a lot of people in breast cancer centers and places where you have grieving parents.
I speak in all of these different settings. And people seemed to appreciate what I had to say. So I thought I could reach a larger audience if I write this down and I did.
KING: But at those settings you don't talk about John and your troubles, do you?
EDWARDS: No, I don't. And, you know, and I...
KING: So why write it?
EDWARDS: Well, honestly, they're -- I'm actually really glad you asked this question, because a lot of people are asking that question. And I'm really pleased to have the opportunity to answer.
The book, for people who have actually read it -- you know, people were coming before it actually came out and they hadn't read it.
But those who actually read it will find that seven-eighths of the book is about other things. A very small portion is about our latest problems associated with John's indiscretions. And we're -- if I had written it without -- you know, it happened after I had agreed to write the book. If I had written -- if I had written it without that, people would be complaining that I hadn't been honest. I pride myself in being an honest person.
KING: So a catch-22?
EDWARDS: Right. One way or the other. So I devoted a very small part of the book to that subject, but 95 percent of the questions, by the same people who are complaining about me, are exactly on that subject.
KING: But being a very bright woman, you knew that that would be the attention-getting of the book.
EDWARDS: I knew that...
KING: Of course you did. EDWARDS: I knew that it would draw attention. And that's why I actually wrote in there, if you picked up this book in hopes of reading details of a scandal, put the book down now. It's not about that.
The book is about what you do. And the kinds of adversities I talked about were the kinds I faced. But there are all sorts of adversities people face. And, you know, you're going to have problems in your life.
That's a universal fact. And how it is you deal with them, how it is you accept them and integrate them into your life is what I -- what the book is about.
KING: But about the five percent, how do you deal with those like Maureen Dowd, a very respected writer, who criticized you for airing dirty linen?
EDWARDS: But there's nothing really in there, basically, that hasn't been
-- that isn't aired right now, that isn't on -- wasn't on the Internet before this book was released.
KING: But they didn't have your feelings.
EDWARDS: It didn't have my feelings. And I think that in this -- in this discussion that we're having about this, one of the things -- that's my audience, in a sense. My audience is people who are helping other people get through this, get through struggles -- maybe the same struggles I had or maybe different ones -- and those who are going through them.
And to both tell them that this is universal -- it's not just that it happens to you because, you know, of your particular circumstance. It happens to everybody, including people in the news.
And you can, in fact, get past those things and move on and have a productive life. But the life isn't going to be what it was before.
KING: Is this any scent of -- sense of punishment of John?
EDWARDS: No. I don't think anybody who actually reads the book would feel like it is.
KING: All right. But by being so public, you realize that it has to have an effect on children.
EDWARDS: My children know what happened. And if they didn't know what happened, they would, as they use the Internet, they'd be able to find those things. You know, there were sites during the campaigns that my children went and saw, some of which were not very complimentary. And they would ask us about them.
I think if you read the book and said, I'm Elizabeth Edwards' child and I'm reading this book, I don't think you would think, what a terrible thing she's done to this. You know, it's -- I hope, in fact, a gift to them, to tell them that -- that when things happen you don't want to have happen in your life, you can get through them.
I may not be there to say that. This book tells -- reminds them of that.
KING: How do they feel about their father?
EDWARDS: They feel great about their father. And I think part of that is that -- that we've talked about the fact that nobody is perfect. And that this is a way in which his imperfections actually hurt other people and what it is you do. And it is you try to make amends in the best way you can. And the fact that he hurt not just me, but the whole family, in a sense, he's been making incredible amends -- you know, amends with them.
He's -- you know, he is -- in the last months in particular -- he's always been a great father, you know, the fellow who volunteers for coaching and everything else. But now he is so incredibly involved in every part of their lives, they're getting to see the man that I -- that I fell in love with, which is great.
KING: You called it imperfection.
That's all you call it?
EDWARDS: Well, you know, in my worst moments do I call it other things?
Yes, I do.
You know, I mean -- you know, but -- but the truth is that our -- the flaw -- the human flaws that participate in bad things happening in your life come in all different forms. Some of them hurt us more than others. This one hurt a lot.
KING: The book is "Resilience."
Did Mrs. Edwards suspect her husband at all?
We'll talk about that ahead.
KING: We're back with Elizabeth Edwards. The book appropriately titled "Resilience," out now and available everywhere.
You said that you only asked John for one wedding gift -- fidelity. That strikes some as odd.
Did you have a reason that that would be -- to say to him before you got married, the one thing I want is fidelity?
EDWARDS: I grew up in a Navy family. We had lots of different homes. And -- and although I loved my home and the permanence of it, those things weren't important. We were never a family that had a lot. We had enough, but not a lot.
So jewels and things like that didn't matter to me much. And, you know, we drove a Ford station wagon until it just quit driving -- you know, quit moving at all, probably for 20 years, when I was a kid. And that didn't matter to me.
But what did matter to me was that the relationship that we had and the trust that we were able to put in one another, because I saw my mother believe, as she was -- when I was a young girl, I found journals that she thought that my father had cheater on her when she had three very young children. And...
KING: You being one of them.
EDWARDS: And I was -- I was the first of those. And I have no idea whether that actually happened or not, but I know that she thought it did. And that that -- it was a strong, incredibly beautiful, accomplished woman, being undone by that -- you know, whether it was a rejection of her or an attack on the institution she'd put so much faith in. It undid her. And I just -- I didn't want to see myself go down the same path. And that -- so that's what I asked for.
KING: And what did he say?
EDWARDS: He said, of course. I mean, you know, I believed then -- and I believe now -- and I believe through this whole thing John has loved me. I just think that he had a frailty that allowed him to do something which was completely contrary to the rest of his life.
KING: Did you have any suspicion any time?
EDWARDS: No, no.
EDWARDS: None. I mean...
KING: Not a question?
KING: A man on the road a lot?
EDWARDS: Yes -- no, but he was, you know, he'd been on the road for quite some time. I mean, he was a lawyer who traveled. He did cases all over. But I saw the way he treated me. I knew the way he treated me and the way -- the commitment he had to our family. And I had -- you know, I was -- perhaps, you know, the one thing I can agree with Maureen Dowd is that I was probably naive. I was certainly naive.
KING: How about the world betrayal?
EDWARDS: It -- I think it is a betrayal. And I think John thinks that it is a betrayal. KING: Why didn't you get divorced?
EDWARDS: Because, you know, a marriage is -- we all know this, it's hard work. You put it together and you work very hard on it. And the parts that come in, good and bad, include, for John, that he is an extraordinarily good man.
When he talked about poverty, he meant it. In fact, you know, as we speak, he's working in -- in El Salvador with the Fuller Center and the Homes from the Heart, trying to make certain that people who don't have shelter have that.
I mean, this is something he deeply cares about. That's a good man.
He has provided for us. He has -- you know, his fathering has been nearly perfect. His caring for me, with this really big painful exception, has been extraordinary, through Wade's death, through the cancer.
KING: But you have to think about it a lot, don't you?
Or do you?
EDWARDS: Oh, no, you do. You have to say, is that -- is this piece, this piece, which is so painful, so big, that it obscures all those other things and did I think about that?
I did think about that.
KING: All right, when the...
EDWARD: But in the end, I decided it did not.
KING: When the story first appeared -- we're talking about "Resilience."..
KING: When the story first appeared in the tabloids, a friend had to mention it to you, did you see this in the "Enquirer?"
KING: What did you say?
EDWARDS: You know, I remember a long time ago standing in a line and seeing a picture on the front of one these tabloid magazines of a -- of an old plane surrounded by dust. And they said, "Abandoned World War II Plane Found on the Face of the Moon."
And I thought, you know, isn't it odd that, you know, CNN and ABC and everybody missed this story that was picked up by this tabloid. At the same time that the stories appeared about John, there was exactly the similar stories appearing about now President Obama.
You know, this is -- this is the fodder that they have.
KING: So you dismissed them?
EDWARDS: I dismissed them.
KING: What did he say?
EDWARDS: He said that they -- he told me that they weren't true. And for, you know, a period of time, he was certainly untruthful to me. And, you know, part of the betrayal is not just these -- the acts, but also the breach of the trust that we had between us.
KING: How did you find out, really find -- know the truth?
EDWARDS: John told me. He told me briefly after -- he told me after he had done his announcement to run for president. He had gone to various places and -- to do that and came back to Chapel Hill. And -- and after he had done the announcement there, he told me.
It was the first time I had ever seen her. I didn't honestly know that the videographer was a female. I mean, this is -- I was completely in the dark.
KING: And naive.
EDWARDS: And naive.
KING: How did he say it?
EDWARDS: He just -- you know, we just went into our -- my whole family visits at Christmas, which is great. And he just went -- we went into the -- into our bedroom. And he said he had something, you know, he needed to tell me. And that this person had traveled with him, was no longer traveling with him and -- and would not. And he just, you know, he was contrite. He, you know, wanted to -- you know, so he wanted to hug me and hold me to comfort me. And that's not exactly the moment when I wanted to be hugged.
Later on, there was plenty of time for that. But -- but, you know, he just told me. And, you know, I took it as, I suppose, most people do, which is very badly.
KING: Was there a kind of, how could you?
EDWARDS: Oh, absolutely. You know, and I don't think he knows. I don't think to this day he knows how he could do this, because if you asked him to rank the things that are important to him, this wouldn't be on the list. And you know, it's just hard.
KING: Did he think that something would come out running for president?
EDWARDS: Well, I think that he thought that -- he believed that, you know, what he had told me -- I mean I don't know what he thinks. But what he had told me was that it was a single -- a single night. And you know, I thought that a single night would probably not come out.
It had been some time before and that if she had wanted to talk about it, she would have plenty of opportunity in the interim to do so and had chosen not to.
KING: We'll ask about the other people in the campaign right after this.
KING: We're back with Elizabeth Edwards. The book is "Resilience."
You do not name the woman who John had the affair with in your book. And you've asked us, out of consideration for you, not to do so. And we will respect that.
EDWARDS: Thank you.
KING: I'm glad we are respecting it. I will quote from the book: "It felt that the ground underneath me had pulled away. I wanted him to drop out of the race, protect our family from the woman, from his act."
Why didn't he?
EDWARDS: He -- at the time he made -- it was a very good point. I had -- I have to admit, then and now -- and that was if he pulled out and that, you know, two days after he had first announced, it was going to raise lots of questions.
Whenever anyone pulls out of the race, you know, unless they've just been trounced in the days before, there's also -- always a lot of questions about why that happened.
In fact, when people decided not to run for the nomination this time, there were sometimes questions about them.
KING: What about the effect on the campaign workers, all those people gave so much?
EDWARDS: Yes. I think it's been really -- it's been really hard for John. I mean, he tried calling a lot of -- a lot of people who had worked for him, trying to talk to them and ask them -- as, you know, as he asked me -- for forgiveness for this -- for what he had done.
I think that -- you know, I don't think that they knew. I don't think they had any idea during this process that -- that -- what was happening. And -- and he feels like he's betrayed them.
What we told them, though, when he pulled out of the -- when he pulled out of the race, which is before any -- before this -- the magnitude of this was exposed, he -- we talked to them and said, you know, John's not going to be the nominee. No -- none of us had anything to do with it. Not going to be the nominee, but you needn't think that you did nothing, because we're talking about universal healthcare, because you helped get his universal healthcare plan on the table early and other people had to match it.
We're talking about poverty, which we -- you know, which, in the face of this economic recession that we're -- we have, maybe we're not paying as much attention to now. And that's because of the work you did.
KING: Back with more of Elizabeth Edwards, right after this.
KING: You can, in fact, obviously, that it wasn't a one-night stand.
EDWARDS: I did. But I learned that, you know, a year and a half after -- after he first confessed to me and long after the campaign was over.
KING: How did you feel about that?
EDWARDS: You know, it threw me. I have to be honest with you. I felt like we had spent a very difficult year plus trying to work through this, I mean, because I like to say that I could -- I could just handle it, it was just one time. But it was -- it was pretty devastating.
And now I had to not only deal with that and more, but I also had to deal with the fact that he hadn't been honest with me. So, you know, the work on rebuilding trust was set back a great deal. And -- and so we're still working on that.
KING: Every day?
EDWARDS: Every day.
KING: Is -- a baby was born.
KING: To this woman.
KING: He said he would take a test.
KING: Is he going to take a test?
EDWARDS: I have no idea. You know, and that...
KING: Did you ask him?
KING: That would be the first thing I'd ask.
EDWARDS: You know, if it never came up, that would be fine with me. You know, I don't -- I don't need to know, from my perspective, in terms of my relationship with John. It doesn't, you know -- his acts and his not being straightforward with me, those things are the things that have to do with him and me.
KING: By not taking it, though, doesn't that indicate something?
EDWARDS: Yes, and by her not asking, I, you know, for some time. I don't know. You know, I think -- I think that eventually whoever the father is of this child will -- you know, will step up and -- you know, once they know that that is -- that they are the person, will step up and do the right thing, I hope.
EDWARDS: I certainly hope so, because this is -- this little...
KING: Here, sadly...
EDWARDS: ...this little girl, you know...
KING: She's got help.
EDWARDS: Yes. She's certainly not responsible for anything that's happened.
KING: No. If, sadly, it is John...
KING: ... Don't your kids have to know?
EDWARDS: I -- I suspect that...
KING: They have a half sibling.
EDWARDS: Right. I think that whoever the father is, if they have other children, that's -- you know, that's a conversation that needs to occur.
KING: What's day-to-day life like?
EDWARDS: You know, it's...
KING: You write of resilience.
KING: What is it like?
EDWARDS: It's, you know, it's pretty much like everybody else's life. I guess maybe for people whose -- whose husbands have been left -- laid off or something, because he's home all the time, when he's not in El Salvador or doing something. He talks about issues that are important to him, to people who are -- who are working on those.
He goes periodically -- he went to Haiti and -- to do some work and now in El Salvador. So he'll do those things.
But most of the time, it's, you know, school lunches in the morning and baseball games in the afternoon. And the truth is, I've been doing a lot of putting away things. We moved into our house right before the election started. I've got a lot of stuff in boxes to -- to unpack.
EDWARDS: And now I don't have as much energy as I used to have, so it's taking a little longer.
KING: Is he practicing law?
EDWARDS: He's not practicing law right now. It's not out of the question that he does, but he's not doing that now.
KING: George Stephanopoulos claimed on his Sunday show that several staffers believed early on John was having an affair and decided to wreck the campaign if it looked like he was doing -- going to win the nomination.
How do you react to that?
EDWARDS: I don't think it makes any sense. People -- these young people who work on campaigns, I wish people got a chance to meet them. They are so inspiring, these -- these people who spend their lives trying to get an individual they believe in or a set of policies that they believe in to be the thing that guides us in the future.
They -- if they -- if they are unsuccess -- if the campaign that they're associated with is unsuccessful, what they want to do is move to the campaign that is successful. The earlier you do that, the better. There are more positions available.
So to hold on until the very end and then torpedo your candidate means that you have, you know -- we should be very -- and if he gets the nomination -- means that you have basically cut off your opportunities to get those jobs in the future. It becomes known that you were the person -- a person who torpedoed your candidate, your chances of getting a job in the future are not very good.
Why -- these people who believed in John and people -- I mean we -- it was a real fam -- sense of family. They would have just gone to John and say, I mean, it seems to me.
EDWARDS: Or gone to me. I -- it would have been nice if they'd come to me and told me.
KING: When we come back, I want to ask you, what would have happened if he'd got the nomination? We'll be right back.
The book is "Resilience."
Don't go away.
KING: We're back with Elizabeth Edwards.
The book is "Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities." And she has had her share, that's safe to say.
EDWARDS: It is.
KING: What if he had gotten the nomination?
KING: A tragedy, right?
EDWARDS: Right. And I...
KING: This would have broken and...
EDWARDS: Right, I...
KING: ... McCain's president.
EDWARDS: You know, well, McCain's not a particularly good person to attack John on these particular issues. But...
EDWARDS: I think by his own admission he -- his conduct was somewhat similar. So -- quite some time ago. And I don't -- I'm not telling tales. I mean, I think this is something he has been forthright about.
KING: So in a race between two guys --
EDWARDS: Right, two guys -- two guys, you know, who have these -- this frailty. And we certainly know from history. We have a lot who have this -- you know, have the same frailty.
KING: Well, what would happen? He gets the nomination, he destroys the party.
EDWARDS: No, I think that it would have been very bad. And I think that his -- going forward with his -- was part of his belief, which I think most people in these circumstances believe that it will not come out. I don't think that -- I think that most people who engage in this conduct think that their spouse will never find out, that their co- workers and friends will not find out.
KING: Right. There is an ego thing.
EDWARDS: And that's what John has said, that he -- you know, that he --
KING: How did he do it? How did he get up? You're standing there. You know it. He's saying, vote for me, and he knows. How did he do that? How did he -- where did he get that?
EDWARDS: I don't know the answer to that. You know, what I knew was very limited, and I could understand how he could -- you know, when we find the perfect candidate, you know, the one without any mistakes in their past, I suggest we all vote for him or look a little closer.
KING: In March 2007, just a few months after you learned of the affair, John and you told the world your cancer had returned. This time incurable. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've been married 30 years, known each other longer than that. And we will be in this every step of the way together.
Any time, any place that I need to be with Elizabeth, I will be there, period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Was he living a lie there?
EDWARDS: Well, I think everything he said at that time was true. I do have to tell you when we got this diagnosis, this indiscretion of his, which I thought to be one night, was just not in -- on my mind.
It was John's mind -- you know, maybe it was, but it was certainly not on my mind. I mean, there was much bigger things to -- that were occupying my mind at the time.
And you know, maybe I should have thought about it and said, this was a good opportunity to do what we couldn't do in January. But it just -- you know, I -- we had come to a certain place that was, I thought, a very good place. And we were able to sort of move forward without this being part of every single day.
And then cancer was part of every single day.
KING: Aren't you curious about the woman?
EDWARDS: Well, you know, there has certainly been a lot written. And so you know, I've --
KING: Would you like to meet her?
EDWARDS: I --
KING: I mean, some women would like to --
KING: -- find out who was this who disrupted my life.
EDWARDS: Right. You know, I suppose I have some -- you know, I might have some questions if I do, but I don't think that's a very useful experience.
Part of what the book is about is accepting that your life has changed. Part of maybe trying to meet with somebody, and -- you know, is to say -- you know, to somehow say, I mean, it's not change, I'm just going to -- you know, I'm going to minimize her in some way, which I have no interest in doing, or try to push it aside.
This experience happened. My life is different. And it's a job for me, when anything bad happens, as this was, to accept that this is my new life, a life where I have to rebuild trust with somebody I love deeply.
KING: Now one thing I would think you would ask him, take the test, we should all know if you're the father or not the father?
EDWARDS: Well --
KING: For all of the family -- for everybody's sake, for the child's sake. take the test.
EDWARDS: I mean --
KING: Wouldn't you ask him to do that?
EDWARDS: That's -- in terms of these issues, I don't need that. You know, and if -- I don't think that he has expressed a hesitancy about it at any point. But you know, those things will happen in time. That's part of accepting the new reality, I think.
You know, for him, does the new reality include this or not.
KING: For you it could be another resilience.
EDWARDS: Yes, thank you, I've already had -- I'm full now. I don't need anything more.
KING: You're a great lady.
Elizabeth writes about her great love story, and we'll get to it next.
KING: We're back with Elizabeth Edwards. The book is "Resilience."
After the affair became public, John did an interview with ABC's "Nightline." Let's look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J. EDWARDS: The truth is you can't possibly beat me up more than I've already beaten myself up.
BOB WOODRUFF, HOST, "NIGHTLINE": If you see this though in the reports, you see this now breaks out.
EDWARDS: Why did you continue to deny it and not tell the truth?
KING: Because I did not want the public to know what I had done, very simple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Did you -- were you watching that?
EDWARDS: I did not watch it -- I mean, I didn't watch him --
KING: Didn't watch it live.
EDWARDS: I didn't watch it live. Separate part of the house, and I went and -- I just went and occupied myself, not particularly effectively, but I did something else for a little while he did that, and watched it later.
KING: Are you glad he did it?
EDWARDS: I don't know about that. You know, I think it has given people permission to express their opinions about what we should or should not do that is contrary to what I believe.
I talked about it a great deal after the cancer came back and people said I shouldn't campaign after that. And they weren't in the position I was in. It was hard for them to speak to it. People who actually had cancer said, yes, of course, you go on with your life, of course you do these things.
But maybe our talking about it gave them permission to express their viewpoints. And so maybe this gave people permission that we really weren't trying to do. He was trying to say, you know, instead of dragging this out, this is what I did, I'm ashamed of it, I definitely tried to keep it from people because I was ashamed of it.
But it's out and we're basically trying to close the door on the discussion as opposed to opening the door on the discussion.
KING: Have you forgiven him?
EDWARDS: I have forgiven him. He still has to rebuild the trust but honestly, I think we think of forgiveness as a gift we give somebody but I think it's also a gift we give ourselves. I didn't understand --
KING: That's the Christian concept.
EDWARDS: I never understood somebody who said, they forgive someone who was driving drunk and killed their child. Certainly what we saw when the Amish forgave the man with the schoolhouse. It was incomprehensible to me. But now I'm in certainly a less stressful situation than either of those but I see that my giving, my forgiving him has allowed me to let go of a lot of the pain I was carrying around with me every day.
KING: Going to read from the book. "We had, I believed, the great love story, bound as we were by triumph and defeat, by exhilarating achievement, shattering grief. We had walked side by side for three decades and in my foolish dreams would walk side by side, hand in hand for three more. But even in my illness somehow allows me those days, it will by necessity be different because at the very least I am a different person now. I was not wounded, not afraid, not uncertain before, now I always will be. He can try to treat the wound, and he has tried. He can try to make me less afraid, and he has tried. But I am now a different person."
And you can't go back.
EDWARDS: You can't. Maybe that naivete, that Maureen Down found so offensive was actually a great gift to me and allowed me to believe that what we had was so perfect and that was a nice place to live. I don't live there any more.
KING: We know you can love him.
EDWARDS: I can.
KING: Are you in love with him?
EDWARDS: Yes. I am. I --
KING: There's a difference.
EDWARDS: There is a difference. But no, I am in love with him. I say in the book, I'm in love with my whole family. I just -- this is just -- I can't imagine anything more wonderful than my family. I mean I just -- I love the kids, I love the way everyone interacts with one another. I love the way we've integrated Wade's death into our lives and the strength that each one of them has shown.
KING: How did John speak to the children about this?
EDWARDS: He told them that he -- KING: They're different ages --
EDWARDS: He had a private conversation with our oldest daughter who is 27, was 26 at the time.
KING: Harvard Law, right.
EDWARDS: Right. Finished her last exam at Harvard Law School and I let them have that conversation by themselves. He needn't feel like he was talking to me. He should just be talking to her. And he did. The conversation with the children was a conversation with the younger children who were then eight and 10, now nine and 11, that conversation we had together and the nobody is perfect and dad said I've made some mistakes. And this is the mistake that I made and I feel terrible about it for --
KING: Do they have anger?
EDWARDS: They may have but not that they expressed. But if they do it's something that they need to feel and work their way through.
KING: Who is a boy, who is a girl?
EDWARDS: The younger, Jack, is a boy. He had no questions. Emma Claire, the older girl had -- did have some questions. But whereas John is around so much and taking so much care of them, it used to be my older children would say mom when they were talking to John. Now they say dad when they're talking to me because they're so used to his being omnipresent in their lives which is a great, great thing.
KING: He's a better father now?
EDWARDS: He's a more present father now. I think he always was a great father.
KING: What's the story behind Elizabeth occasionally not wearing her wedding ring? Back in 60 seconds.
KING: We're back with Elizabeth Edwards. Her book, "Resilience".
You told our friend Oprah that you didn't wear your wedding ring because you jammed your finger. Armchair psychologists, three of them sitting over there, must read a whole lot into that. Did you really jam it?
EDWARDS: I really jammed it. This is actually sort of a funny story. When John was running for the Senate, he runs and when he runs he used to run with his ring and he would sweat and he lost the first wedding ring that we ever had, he ever had and he'll take it off in the shower, for the shower or something so one time he went to an event and he wasn't wearing his ring, very early.
And this ring -- so I went to a place where they sell rings, I said I'd like to see your size nine wedding rings and she said, well, we have five of them and I said, I'll take them all. And I'm sure she wondered what in the world I was doing with them but I was making sure John had -- I made a little box for him, shadow-box after he ran for the Senate with different things in it -- and one of the things I put in it was the extra wedding ring. That is actually a wedding ring that fits him. I wear a size seven ring, that's a size nine. You can see the difference between this finger and this one.
I really did jam my finger.
KING: It's none of my economic business but you do have some amount of money. Why such a plain band?
EDWARDS: The first band that we got, we had no money and we went to one of these --
EDWARDS: So you can see --
KING: Oh my.
EDWARDS: My proof, now. That the first one -- first wedding bands we got when we had very little money, John's cost 22 dollars and looked like this and mine cost 11 and they were very plain and we stuck with that.
KING: Back with more of John Edwards in his own words maybe, next. Don't go away.
KING: Welcome back. John Edwards is now facing a federal inquiry into how he spent his campaign funds. His political action committee paid more than 100,000 dollars for a video production to the firm of the woman he had an affair with.
Edwards gave us this statement: "I am confident that no funds from my campaign were used improperly. However, I know that it is the role of government to ensure that this is true. We have made available to the United States both the people and the information necessary to help them get the issue resolved efficiently and in a timely manner. We appreciate the diligence and professionalism of those involved and look forward to a conclusion.
Where does that stand? Facing that federal inquiry?
EDWARDS: We've made all the -- I say we -- the campaign has made all of the records available. Honestly, the use of campaign money is on the Internet. Every check that's written from the campaign is reflected on a disbursement section of the campaign reports that are made quarterly and they're online. Anybody who wants to see them can check and see whether any -- where the money went. And what they'll see is money going to people employed by the campaign who -- and for expenses for travel and reimbursements for if something was -- somebody used some property or lent some property, those kinds of things. And we have complete confidence that the funds were not used improperly.
KING: You were, were you not, very much involved in that campaign?
EDWARDS: You know, I care deeply about these issues. And in terms of the financial part I was not involved.
KING: But you were--
EDWARDS: I thought of these young people in particular as part of my family. So I felt very close to them.
KING: More from your book. This is the saddest part of all.
"It cannot bring him back. As much as I tried, as much as I prayed, I could not let him go, which is what people who cared about me wanted. So many people thinking they were taking care of me asked if I was over Wade's death yet. "I will never be over it," I would tell them.
I can't imagine what it would be like to lose a child. It's unfathomable to me.
EDWARDS: It is.
KING: A hundred times worse than infidelity.
KING: How did you deal with it?
EDWARDS: Well, the first thing I did was--
KING: How did he die?
EDWARDS: Wade was 16 years old and had been driving for a good period of time. He worked in his father's law office and drove for them. He had probably driven 15,000 miles, not an immense amount of experience, but no tickets or anything.
And he was driving to the beach in a section of eastern North Carolina where the wind pushed his car to the side of the road and it flipped. And it killed him and the boy next to him walked away, which was -- I'm really glad that he did.
KING: The wind?
EDWARDS: The wind. It was a strong wind. In fact, I got letters from other people saying that their cars had also been moved. In fact, a woman who drove the same kind of car that Wade drove, that she had precisely the same problem where, you know, these strong winds would come and-- KING: Where were you? How did you hear about it?
EDWARDS: John had picked -- Cate and I were on a trip, and John picked us up from the airport and we were going to follow to the beach. But before we got to the point of getting into the car, the highway patrol pulled up. And the highway patrol pulling into your house really can only mean--
KING: Was he a senator then?
EDWARDS: No, he was not. We were just regular citizens. And--
KING: And the highway patrol told you?
EDWARDS: The highway patrol told us. You know, it was a tape that plays in my head a lot more than any of this other stuff that's covered by the press so closely.
KING: What do you say? What do you do? This little girl was with you?
EDWARDS: Our daughter Cate, who's now 27, was 14 at the time. And she was upstairs. I went to the door and John was in our room, where we all converged.
But the first thing I did was sort of fall to the floor and just screaming, "No!" That is actually how I felt. You know, it can't be true.
And as I moved through next weeks, first days being you're just in shock. But as I moved through the next weeks and months, I had this idea that God was going to find some way to turn back time and he was going to be alive.
I would see somebody mowing their lawn and say, no, no, no. Or don't build a porch or don't -- if everything stays the same, God can do what I always hoped he would, and that was to save the innocents. And I realized, of course, in time that that wasn't so. And only when I came to that recognition was I able to incorporate Wade as a memory, rather than Wade who was a boy who was going to return next week into my life.
KING: Do you think about him a lot?
EDWARDS: All the time. All the time. And he's a member of our family. He didn't quit being that.
The younger children -- Emma Claire so poignantly one time came in and said, "You know what makes me really sad about Wade?" And I said, "What?" And she said, "that Jack never got to know him." Well, she didn't either, but she thought she did because he was so much a part of our family life.
KING: You were 48 and 50 when the next two came.
EDWARDS: I was. I had my AARP card in front of me when I was pregnant with Jack.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Elizabeth Edwards.
The book is "Resilience."
Don't go away.
KING: One more from the book.
"As I have felt further less-devastating blows in the years after Wade's death, I cannot understand how I merited these blows. What did I do? Even though I think I know better, I still continued to ask and continued to wonder."
Do you have any guilt?
EDWARDS: Actually, guilt is one of the things you might go through in grieving. I don't really feel guilt. There's a lot of times when I've certainly wondered, what did I do wrong to cause Wade's death? I tried to buy him a safe car and, you know, we did all that work to make certain that he was in a safe vehicle, and yet this happened.
Did I not teach him enough? But, you know, in truth, I knew it was one of the things.
With the cancer, you know, did I drink the wrong things or eat the wrong things? I'm not a smoker, I don't have -- I don't engage in very much conduct that might create this. But you still have to ask yourself those questions. And certainly with the latest indiscretion, you know, what did I do to cause this to happen?
And I have to recognize with each of these things, they just happen. You didn't have to do something wrong to justify them. You still sort of wonder, is there some grand plan where you've done something someplace else?
KING: Did it test your faith?
EDWARDS: It absolutely tests your faith. You have to think about what God means to you. The God that I believed in before--
KING: Is not the same God?
EDWARDS: -- is not the same God. There's a great line in -- Bill Moyers did a show, "Genesis," and somebody -- at one point somebody said, "You get the God you have, not the God you want."
The God I wanted was going to intervene. He was going to turn time back. The God I wanted was -- I was going to pray for good health and he was going to give it to me.
Why in this complicated world, with so much grief and pain around us throughout the world, I could still believe that, I don't know. But I did. And then I realized that the God that I have was going to promise me salvation if I lived in the right way and he was going to promise me understanding. That's what I'm sort of asking for, what -- let me understand why I was tested.
KING: Why? How do you face the possibility of not being around?
EDWARDS: It's really hard. I try to organize their lives so that they will have signs of my presence and memories.
Emma Claire wanted -- asked for her birthday a trip with me. And even though I'm thinking of an 11-year-old, and I'm carrying the luggage and doing -- can I really handle all that? I still want to give it to her even though I think it's going to be a hard -- a physically hard thing to do.
KING: Have someone carry the luggage.
EDWARDS: Yes. Actually, I've been trying to talk her into one of these tours where they -- you know, you just arrive at the hotel and the luggage--
KING: Why not? You know, what's really double sad, if, God forbid, you left, John would probably be double crushed. Guilt plus--
EDWARDS: I completely agree with that. And in fact, one of the things -- we've talked about that and talked about his -- you know, his work in rebuilding trust and how it's really important that he get to that place in time so that he understands that what he took away he did his very best job to put back.
KING: Many times when a child dies parents divorce.
EDWARDS: They do. Seventy percent, I think. Some huge, huge number.
KING: Seventy, yes. Guilt toward each other, anger.
KING: That never went on with you?
EDWARDS: Never. We went through this process together, and I will never -- you know, it's one of the things that keeps us together now, is that he was so spectacular.
And I realized later -- at first I thought we just need exactly the same thing. I realized later he was actually giving me gifts all along. The things I needed were the things he did.
I needed to go to the grave every day. So though he didn't need to and sometimes didn't want to. He went anyway so that we would be together and we would feel each other's strength as we tried to deal with this strategy.
KING: You OK? EDWARDS: I am OK.
KING: Thanks, dear.
EDWARDS: Thank you.
KING: Elizabeth Edwards. The book, "Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities."
Time now for "ANDERSON COOPER 360."