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Elizabeth Edwards Breaks Her Silence

Aired July 4, 2010 - 21:00   ET



LARRY KING, HOST (voice-over): Tonight Elizabeth Edwards, a primetime exclusive. On her husband's shocking affair that wrecked their marriage.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, AUTHOR, "RESILIENCE: REFLECTIONS ON THE BURDENS AND GIFTS OF FACING LIFE'S ADVERSITIES": But I think it's important for me to understand that I didn't do anything wrong.

KING: The baby he fathered with his mistress.

EDWARDS: I have seen the child.

KING: What the scandal did to her.

EDWARDS: I mean, personally told me that.

KING: And how she feels right now about the man who betrayed her.

(On camera): You loved John.


KING (voice-over): The resilient Elizabeth Edwards is next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: It's a great pleasure to welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE one of my favorite people, Elizabeth Edwards. The author of the number one "New York Times" bestseller, "Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities". Now out on paperback with a very candid and compelling new afterword.

Elizabeth is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress working on health care issues.

It's always good to see you and you -- you look so good. You've got to tell me, how are you feeling?

EDWARDS: I feel great, actually. You know, I've always going to have some sort of treatment and I'm on chemotherapy now. I had chemotherapy this morning, as a matter of fact, in North Carolina. And was, you know, sometimes the treatments get you down, but the disease is not getting me down.

KING: What does the chemo do?

EDWARDS: Well, this chemo --

KING: You're in a stage four, right?

EDWARDS: I'm stage four. The chemo I'm taking right now actually has a lot of effect on my blood so, you know, I'm not supposed to cut my cuticles or floss or do things --

KING: Really?

EDWARDS: Do things that might introduce infection. And I -- sometimes I'm breathless a little, you know. So I'm planning a trip with the children. Now I've got to make sure I have someone to help me, you know, because I've not -- there are probably times I'm not going to be able to move luggage for two children and for me. So, you know, there are little things you have to plan ahead for.

KING: We're not going to get into the specifics of the disease, but of having had friends take it. I've had a couple of friends that didn't like it so much they gave up.

EDWARDS: I -- I have -- you know, I've heard that happening. I mean, a great example, Melissa Etheridge. Well, we had breast cancer about the same time and she is doing chemotherapy and it has a lot of effect on your fingers and your hands because she uses her hands at her trade.

KING: Yes.

EDWARDS: She found it to be a real problem for her. She hasn't had any bad results from that which is I'm really delighted. It makes me nervous.

KING: Do the -- this sounds weird, but do the doctors tell you why you're still here?

EDWARDS: No, and they don't tell me when they expect me to go. And what I understand is it's not going to be -- so if I'm feeling good, that's a good sign because I'm not -- you don't like all of a sudden fall off a cliff. It will be -- it's a slow decline as the disease progresses.

KING: Pain?

EDWARDS: Probably, but, you know, I try really not to focus on what the end is going to look like.


EDWARDS: More time I spend doing that, you know, the less time I'm enjoying the days I have now.

KING: All right. How do you not think about it? EDWARDS: There are times when you do. I don't really think about it when I'm getting chemotherapy or -- I have -- you know, the people who take care of me are wonderful, you know, terrific people.

I made -- Jerome who gives me my infusions bring me his high school yearbook and I promised to bring him his. I brought mine, which I did but he wasn't there last week because of a meeting. So I've got to bring it again next week.

But, you know, they become friends of yours so when you go to visit them, it doesn't seem -- when you go to have scans, when you go to find out if the disease is progressing, those are the times when it's really hard not to let it get in your head.

KING: Is resilience something you learn you have when misfortune occurs?

EDWARDS: I think that's probably true of a lot of people, you know, who --

KING: And how do we know how we'll handle some or we have to handle it?

EDWARDS: You don't and, you know -- and I think most people -- I don't think that I'm special in any way, but I think most people do pull themselves together. Do what it is they need to be done. Sometimes you're thrown for a loop for a little while and then you start to reclaim.

I think it's that getting back on the right path, that's the hard part. You know, you can't let yourself go down the chasm. You have to really get yourself back on the road, yes.

KING: Was the worse when they first told you?

EDWARDS: The worst --

KING: Mentally?

EDWARDS: Mentally the worst was when I -- when I very first heard. You -- I just didn't know what to expect. I didn't know whether the information to how bad the information I was getting was -- I mean, not how bad is it, not how bad the information is, but how bad the cancer is.

And, it was -- I had a great oncologist, Lisa Carey, who was telling me, you know, if you see a bone scan and you don't look like -- start to look like a Christmas tree or like Larry King's backdrop, then you're in good shape.

You know, that means that you've got contained locations. It's when it starts being really bright to you. And so she gave me some landmarks to -- but it still is scary.

KING: Now the hardcover, was it made you bestseller?

EDWARDS: It was very successful.

KING: Because of events, did you almost have to write an afterword?

EDWARDS: I did feel like I had. You know, it was going to come out in paperback and if it came out in paperback -- when I wrote the paperback, John, my husband, and I were still together. So when the paperback came out, we have separated. And --

KING: And public would expect to read about it.

EDWARDS: Right. And so, if the book ended with our being together, then it wasn't --

KING: It'd be weird.

EDWARDS: It would be weird. It wouldn't be an accurate book. I mean it's actually why I included a lot of the stuff in it. I wanted the book to be accurate. I didn't want it to be sensational, but I wanted it to be accurate.

KING: But you also took out some things.


KING: Why?

EDWARDS: Well, in the paperback, I don't think I took out some --

KING: No, no. Some things from the original.

EDWARDS: Oh, yes. Well, I mean, I -- there are books -- there are things that I had that, you know, sort of bothering me about the way the story was getting told and, you know, and I -- and it's like I sort of like I needed to answer them, but I also want to move on in my life so I don't want to answer it.

I don't want to get into a shouting, you know, the last person on LARRY KING gets to tell the story, you know, of the way it is. I don't want that. I want to move on. And so some things I need --

KING: Of course, you have -- you should be hurt, though.

EDWARDS: Yes. So --

KING: You don't want to leave things.

EDWARDS: Well, some thing -- you know, there's some things that are important for me, you know, and I -- and I've said them and I think finally they sort of ends up in the popular culture, you know, which is to accept that any of this is.

But there's some understanding about what I knew and when I knew it that I was not complicit in any of this.

KING: Yes.

EDWARDS: And that's important to me. I want people to see me as a moral person who tries to make the right decision when the time comes. So that was important to me.

But aside for that, honestly, I think it's -- you know, the rest of how people feel about me is probably how I lived the rest of my life, not necessarily, you know, what we said or not said.

KING: You -- you're legally separated, right?

EDWARDS: We have a separation agreement.

KING: Are you going to get divorced or does that matter or --

EDWARDS: I mean it matters and doesn't. And you know -- I mean, I think it's one of those things, you know, you need to have all of your arrangements in the right way particularly with children.

But, you know, when the time comes -- I don't imagine any of us is -- you know, have on our calendar, must have on our calendar this is the day in which we can because that part we've got an amicable way of dealing with the kids and dealing with one another that is, you know, has really been quite satisfactory. And --

KING: Because you are the pained one, so --


KING: It has to be satisfactory to you.

EDWARDS: Yes. You know, but -- you know, I think -- I think that there's enough pain in my family to go around everybody.

KING: By the way, so we have it right and the audience understands, nowhere in "Resilience" do you name the woman with whom your husband had an affair and a daughter. You've asked us out of consideration not to use the name either and we will respect that.

EDWARDS: Thank you.

KING: And we will be right back.


KING: We're back with Elizabeth Edwards. "Resilience", terrific book with a new afterword now out in paperback.

You have had to deal in your life with loss. The loss of a husband -- of him, nothing compares in loss to the death of a child in your life.

EDWARDS: No. Nothing compares and --

KING: A distant second. EDWARDS: Right. And in some ways that helps you keep some balance, you know, about how important the -- whatever pain you're going through now is it -- it really does give you some perspective on it.

It doesn't mean it hurts less but it does, you know -- you, say, if I had to choose between one of these, what would I choose? This is a no-brainer.

KING: No, of course not.

EDWARDS: This is a no-brainer. Can't weigh that.

KING: We're honoring the name thing and I understand it. Is it that you have difficulty with it?

EDWARDS: No. What it is, is this is my story and if people want to have -- talk about that part of the story, then they're not -- they're not talking about the book. And if you were talking about the book and it was --

KING: And the book is about resilience.

EDWARDS: The book is about what I went through as I -- you know, as I -- as when Wade died or when the cancer came or when the cancer came back or when I found out that my marriage was not, you know, all I believed and hoped that it was. What did I do, not what -- not what did anybody else do, but what did I do.

And so if somebody wants to talk about that, they're clearly -- this is a more sensational kind of thing. And so it's not what the book is about and I'm hoping -- I hope that I'm promoting the book.

KING: And have you ever spoken to any of the other parties involved? Like to the woman, have you ever spoken to the woman?

EDWARDS: No, I've never -- I've only been on the same place she has once and that was before I knew anything and that we just really -- we're just passing in the hallway.

KING: And you've not seen the child or anything?

EDWARDS: I have seen the child actually.

KING: You have? In what occasion?

EDWARDS: But when John and -- and I were together and he was, you know, wanted to be a father which I admired. They should, you know he -- when he found out that in fact this was his child and he wanted to be a father and if that were the case when were together I would be this child's stepmother.

And so it was important. We went down --

KING: Right. EDWARDS: We went down this -- I know. We went down to Charlotte and a third party picked up Quinn and brought her to where we were and -- that John spent some time alone with her.

We bought -- it was before Christmas, we bough Christmas presents and dresses and little things.

KING: Was this strange for you?

EDWARDS: Yes. I --

KING: Awkward?

EDWARDS: No, it was not awkward in the least. You know, she didn't know who I was.

KING: That's it.

EDWARDS: You know, that was something she was going to learn over time. And unlike John, she didn't have a name or was not going to be a name that she then associated with me.

But I love children and, you know, sitting there playing with toys with her, you know, she seems like a really nice child and --

KING: What did you think of --

EDWARDS: I look forward to having a relationship with her at that time.

KING: You do?


KING: And now?

EDWARDS: Now there's no reason really for me to.

KING: Do you -- what -- did you read or what did you make of the interview that she did with "GQ"?

EDWARDS: I -- really, I read --

KING: Didn't you --

EDWARDS: I read a portion of it that my sister forwarded to me, but I didn't read the whole thing. My sister gets (INAUDIBLE) and will send me something that makes me mad.

KING: So let's clear something up because she said and I'd like to clear it. She said your relationship was dysfunctional, toxic, way before she came along.

EDWARDS: If that were true, why would John and I have worked so hard under such difficult and public circumstances to make the relationship work? We really -- we both -- I mean, I really think we both worked hard in the end to make it work.

I did not think -- I mean, I -- and I suppose there are a lot of women in her position who like to justify their behavior by taking --

KING: Rationalize.

EDWARDS: Right. Rationalize it by thinking that this relationship that -- in which they're thrusting their selves wasn't valuable to begin with. It was clearly valuable to both of us and something that we tried very hard to save.

KING: How did you deal with the pain? You've had to deal with major pains. You have cancer.


KING: Your child was dead.


KING: How did you deal with the pain of the discovery of what he did?

EDWARDS: What was hard about this and what is -- where I had -- I had -- this is part of the --

KING: This is resilience.

EDWARDS: Part of the resilience thing that you have to deal with is it's really hard not to attach it to yourself, not to say what did I do wrong? And go -- and then, you know, but you -- I understand from reading is it very often has nothing to do with the relationship that a spouse can love their husband or their wife very dearly and that doesn't mean that there's -- there's not something, some place that, you know, nobody is 100 percent matched of everything you need.

There's in some place where you have a need and there's somebody who comes along at that time and is able to fill it. And that doesn't mean that -- that there was an unsatisfactory relationship or that I had done something wrong. And --

KING: You don't look in a marriage and say what did I do wrong.

EDWARDS: No. Do I do it occasionally? Of course I do. But I think it's important for me to understand that I didn't do anything wrong. Not just important for me but important also for my children to understand that -- that what that the mother they saw, the wife that they saw, you know, tried to support her husband in his quests and his dreams.

And I'm still, you know, printing out Google instructions, directions for him to get to his objective and sports camp, and I'm still putting out the directions, you know. Because this is a kind of supportive thing that you do, you know, for somebody you're living with and care about and you have this sort of the way -- I feel like, you know, we had a symbiotic way of dealing with one another. KING: Yes, you have.

EDWARDS: He did things for him.

KING: It doesn't go away.

EDWARDS: The hardest part I think was feeling like somebody who had been -- who'd been the person I had leaned on when I needed somebody, when Wade had died, when the cancer came.

I think it's probably been hard for him too to see himself in this new light as not the person on whom I feel I can lean.

KING: He disappointed a lot of people.

EDWARDS: He disappointed a lot of people. I don't -- I think that probably puts (ph) himself.

KING: Also in "GQ", this we should clear up, is her claim that the account you wrote in "Resilience" about how you found out about the affair is factually incorrect.


KING: How would she know how you found out?

EDWARDS: Right. No, I mean, I -- there's nothing in "Resilience" that's incorrect. I mean --

KING: How do you found out he was hiding?

EDWARDS: How I found find out is how I found out.

KING: The cell phone did, right?

EDWARDS: Right. I found out -- I found out from the cell phone. And I don't know what she says about it so I don't know what -- what she said is different. But in any event it doesn't matter. I'm -- I really believe it's important to be honest. But --

KING: How do you deal --

EDWARDS: That's what this book is about.

KING: How do you deal with trust now in John?

EDWARDS: You know, it's still -- it's still hard, you know, but I don't have the same need to trust him at the same level. I mean, he has his own life now which he's entitled to and he has boundaries and I don't have to know, you know, in the same way that a wife knows.

KING: We'll be right back. The book is terrific. The afterword -- lots more to talk about out of this. Elizabeth Edwards' "Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities". The book is "Resilience". We'll be right back.


KING: We're back with Elizabeth Edwards. The book is "Resilience".

Photos accompanying that "GQ" article caused a lot of fuss. "People" magazine quoted a friend of yours as saying you were disgusted by the pictures.

Are they a correct quote?

EDWARDS: I don't know that I actually used that word, but somebody may have. I did see the pictures and I think it's really important when you're a mother to convey that, you know, that's the role you value. And I think she just had probably too many T's to cross.

She also wanted to be viewed as sexy in everything else and you want to say, you know, at some point -- at some point, you know, you could be sexy but that can't be your goal.

KING: Were you jealous?

EDWARDS: Oh, no. No.


EDWARDS: I'm 60. I'll be --


EDWARDS: I'm 61 in the beginning of July.

KING: Did you --

EDWARDS: I quit being jealous of younger women.

KING: Did you watch her on "Oprah"?

EDWARDS: I did. I taped it to watch it later.

KING: Was that hard?

EDWARDS: No, it wasn't hard. It wasn't.

KING: Really?

EDWARDS: Yes. You know --

KING: Well, you have a lot of resilience --


KING: The title of the book.

EDWARDS: So I had to write a book like that. Yes.

KING: Didn't -- it wasn't hard to watch.


KING: All right. Let's get to what we have to get to in which a lot of people were shocked. And that's the book "Game Change."


KING: The bestseller written by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, two respective reporters, and is very critical of you.


KING: With quotes from staff and others. Did you read the book?

EDWARDS: I did not read the book. I've not read the book --

KING: You must know about this.

EDWARDS: But I -- I do know about it and there's some things that actually that did happen in this book in time when I was in a lot of pain. The various staff members are actually probably limited to maybe two staff members to say and, you know, after the campaign, the people who work closest with me started, you know, a Google group, "I Heart Elizabeth".

You know, these people are not mad at me. They're still great friends of mine. And that there was some people who were disgruntled doesn't -- you know, about one thing or another doesn't surprise me. But the people who I was closest -- with whom I was closest I still I am really close.

The people with whom I was disappointed in their performance I think had a lot of opportunities. Very disappointed. I don't know John Heilemann, but I do know Mark Halperin. I'm very disappointed in making no effort to contact me because I could have told them --

KING: They never tried to call you?

EDWARDS: No. I mean, it's not that hard to reach me, you know.


EDWARDS: And they made no effort. And it would have been nice if they had, not because -- some of the things are not true that I understand that are in there. But some of the things --

KING: Well, they make you almost like a devil.

EDWARDS: Yes. And they're just, you know, were there times on the road when I was -- when it was tensed with John? Yes. Did I ever say John doesn't -- you know, I read books, John doesn't, for example?

John reads 10 times the number of books I do. I mean, I would never have said that. If I ever called him a hick, it was because he'd like to be called a hick, you know? Oh, you're such a hick, you know. You're such a country boy.

I don't know that hicks not really the word I'd use but you know. But --

KING: Did it bother you, though, that he was in it?

EDWARDS: It was -- what bothered -- what bothered me --

KING: Or when you have stage four cancer there's nothing bothering you.

EDWARDS: No. It bothered me and I wrote this in the last chapter. I wish I didn't care what people thought of me. But when people say things about me that are not -- that are not true or that could be if you explained the circumstances they might, you know, have a different perspective, then it hurts me that people might read that and believe it.

KING: How angry were you at Andrew Young for writing that book "The Politician"? He was John's aide. The guy was supposed to be the -- pretend he was the father of -- did you read that book?

EDWARDS: I did not read that book and --

KING: He made a lot of appearances.


KING: Not you.

EDWARDS: Right. He did make a lot of appearances and I certainly would say things. That book and -- this is not just from my perspective but from -- that book is absolutely -- the thing is he had a story to tell, but in that story he wasn't a hero in that story, in the real story. So he wrote a story where he got to be the hero which meant demonizing everybody else.

I banned Andrew Young from my house in February of 2007 before I knew any of this because he lied so often I just could not believe anything he said. Told him if he came back on my property, I'd have him arrested. I can't have you around me.

KING: Really?


KING: Do you think he had it in for you?

EDWARDS: Yes. And I had someone contact his publisher and tell them that that the stories that he was promoting -- what he was trying to sell the book, that those stories about me were not true and that they needed to be careful because, you know, I think some people have a lot of knowledge with.

KING: Did you threaten him with alienation of affection? He said that. EDWARDS: I asked him -- I asked -- I did ask him, you know, as sort of fairness -- one of the things that after Wade died John and I did was we started the Wade Edwards Foundation. It provides computer labs for kids who don't have access to -- to these kinds of facilities. That they don't have a computer at home or they don't -- can't get a ride to the library.

So after school they can go straight over in the activity bus and do their work on computers and print out their term papers just like the kids who have computers at home and then take the activity buses home. And it works great.

And I said, you know, I thought that it's a matter of fairness that he ought to contribute some of what -- you know, was actually fairly small considering what he has undoubtedly made on this book.

KING: Did he?

EDWARDS: No. He did not.

KING: We'll be back with more. We're going to read from the books, so will Elizabeth. The book is "Resilience" now in paperback with the new afterword. We'll be right back.


KING: We're back with Elizabeth Edwards.

I don't mean to be puzzled, but they said we weren't clear on how you learned. Apparently, she says it was by cell phone. You said he told you. And I think when I asked you, it was not clear how you --

EDWARDS: Not clear.

KING: Yes.

EDWARDS: I had sort of a tip and I went to John and said, did you have something you need -- you wanted to tell me about?

KING: The tip was from a cell phone or --

EDWARDS: The tip was from a cell phone, but --

KING: So they're both correct.

EDWARDS: They both -- they both --

I've not read hers, so I don't know what she says.

KING: All right.

EDWARDS: So that's why I said --

KING: I got it.

EDWARDS: Yes. KING: All right. You still supported him after you knew about the cheating.

EDWARDS: I knew --

KING: In the run for the presidency.

EDWARDS: I knew about one incident. Understand the whole time that he ran for office, I knew that he had had one liaison. It still -- it still tore me up, I mean, personally tore me up. Did I think that one liaison would disqualify him to be the president?

You know, we've had great presidents who I would hope one liaison would not have -- have stopped from serving us. That's what I believed. And I believed that until, golly, maybe long after it made any sense to but, certainly long after -- I mean, long after he was out of the race.

And so sometimes I had to, you know, bite my tongue. I talked a lot about his policies, which I still believe were the best policies and set the standard for the other candidates on a lot of issues -- health care being one of them, but environment and poverty and corporate interference with government.

And I really believed that that I could talk about those things and mean every word that I was saying, and have him as an advocate for those issues and meaning that as well.

KING: Before we talk about some issues, I want to read one segment from the book.


KING: And I'll have you read them.


KING: Here's where I'm going to read.

"I never asked to be a public figure. When John ran for the Senate, I attended exactly three campaign events. But it happened and the warnings that you have no privacy did not scare me. What did I have to hide? Foolish me, thought then.

I had lived my life on military bases with someone watching all the time. The door of my house in Raleigh was always open. The warning I did get was that my story could be public. The warning I did not get about being in the public eye is that anyone who wants to could write my story and there'll be some people who will believe it."


KING: Is that the age we live in?

EDWARDS: Yes. I'm afraid that that's the age we live in. I mean, there are outrageous things published all the time about all sorts of people and there's a group -- there's a group of people who are going to believe them.

KING: Yes.

EDWARDS: Yes. And a group of people are going to believe them. And there's nothing -- there's, you know, you can't go around refuting every story. Sometimes you just have to let it go and figure that your conduct from here on out will prove that it was true or untrue.

KING: And you're in the tabloids almost all the time.


KING: The last time you were dead.

EDWARDS: Oh, I know. And I was -- that's right. I was dying with him six months. I think that six months might have come and gone.

Or I was grooming my daughter to raise my children, my 28-year- old daughter Cate, who it's long been in our wills that if both of us die, you know, I want her to be -- to raise my children. But they need to have a positive relationship with their father, and I actually responded to that one, because I thought that was counterproductive to what I was hoping they would have.

KING: OK. You read another two portions as we go on.

OK. First, the overall, let's move to other areas. What do you make of Obama?

EDWARDS: I think that there've been very few presidents faced with as many different fronts to try to deal with at one time. Very pleased that he put health care on the front -- on the front burner. And I think that American people's lives, it turned out to be -- it turned out to be -- very unhappy that it happened at the same time that we had this -- the mortgage crisis and financial meltdown, because it meant that people didn't -- they were in economic chaos and we're not entirely certain why that was.

You know, the truth is half of the foreclosures in this country actually take place because of medical costs and, you know, not just that they've got subprime mortgages or other mortgages where they're underwater.

But he's had a lot to deal with at one time. Would I do it if -- you know, if I were getting to make the choice, would I do it exactly the same way? I wouldn't.

KING: How do you buy this statement made -- I had lunch today with a crisis expert and he said he sees this problem as hesitancy, that he's not -- that he should have grabbed BP by the throat.

EDWARDS: Right, to begin with. KING: The first day.

EDWARDS: Right. And in his interview with Matt Lauer, he had said, you know, I was paying attention to this when -- when the talking heads weren't. And I thought the talking heads were -- I mean, this was a really tasty story. The talking heads were talking about this from the very beginning, and --

KING: Do you think he's a little weak in that --

EDWARDS: No. I -- you know, I think that he is contemplative, which in -- in most -- maybe in most times, that's exactly what you want in a president. Sometimes, though, you got -- you need just -- you need to be sort of a man of action. I think it shows in his -- when he was trying -- when he's having his own rough on BP speech, it was clear that was not his comfort zone, you know? And -- and you --

KING: Yes. Well, he told me in an interview he was angry.

EDWARDS: Yes. I'm sure he is. But -- but he's angry, you know? Angry.

KING: We'll have more with the candid Elizabeth Edwards. The book, "Resilience." Next. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Elizabeth Edwards. I'll have you read one passage from the book.

A CNN/Opinion Research Poll from late last month shows a majority, 56 percent, still disapprove of the health care bill. What do you make of that?

EDWARDS: I think people don't -- they haven't yet seen the benefits coming to them. And when they see the benefits coming to them, I think the number will go up. I think that there were some things we needed to do that we didn't do. We did not create real competition for these insurance companies, so what we're still seeing is we're still seeing them up there, premiums to individuals and to -- and to businesses. And that's going to, you know, create a problem in the -- certainly in the short term, before these -- before we start having these exchanges, where people who are -- are out of the market for one reason or another are able to get in in a better rate.

Until then, I think we're --

KING: The process. Right. Yes.

EDWARDS: This is the process.

I think there were people who were dissatisfied with Social Security when it started too.

KING: Would you like to read one -- we'll have you read two, but do one now. EDWARDS: OK. I wrote in this book, meaning early -- in the -- in the first chapters of the book -- about seeing your situation for what it is and taking action. "But I have not acted myself. Maybe it was that 30-year investment I had in my marriage. Maybe it was that I could not separate the flawed man before me from the boy with whom I fell in love in 1975. It does not matter now.

But, finally, at the end of 2009, I realized I could not simply wish us to some halcyon final days. I decided that I do not want to be that person hoping for a day that may never come, that sad, bitter, unhappy person. Finally, I've taken the steps I need to take to never be that person. It's one of the things I left behind when I closed that door behind John."

KING: Is this hard to write?

EDWARDS: It was hard to write. It was hard to write it with the right tone because, you know, that sad, bitter, unhappy person wasn't that far behind me. But I really was more hopeful and I wanted -- the book, though, you know, some people criticized, saying -- the book, saying, you know, how could you write about some of these things with your children out there, like my children were somehow living, you know, with their head in the sand and knew nothing about it.

I wanted them to see from my perspective and not see it with just the pain they saw, they knew was there, but also to see it with some degree of hopefulness, both in the original version and then in this -- the new version with, you know, the new life. I wanted them to see it in a hopeful way, that I wasn't, you know, looking back on everything and saying, you know, woe is me and what a victim I am. But it's my fate. It's my responsibility and I have to, you know, take hold of -- finally make the choices that are right for me.

I made a lot of choices I thought were right for my children. I don't think they turned out to be. I thought they were at the time, and so I made choices that are right for me and I think turned out then also right for the children. Because they have a happier, you know, less bitter, sane mother, you know, who -- who's able to get through a day.

KING: How did they feel about their father?

EDWARDS: You know, Emma Claire is at softball practices -- all- star softball team -- softball practices with their dad, and they are proud of their dad. Jack called on his way up to sports camp. His father drove him up to sports camp and said, we stopped here in Applebee's and everybody wanted to have their picture taken with -- with Dad. And you could see that, you know, he acted like he was embarrassed, but he was also proud too. Particularly in -- you know, he was driving through Western Virginia. Not West Virginia, western Virginia where there's a lot of poverty.

And those people, you know, say, OK, he messed up, but this guy was -- he was caring about us, you know? And so I think they- you know, they give him a little more leeway than --

KING: Do the kids -- have the kids met their stepsister?

EDWARDS: No. No. They have not. There'll come a time when they have. But Quinn I think would be coming up on two and a half and I think that when she starts creating more memories and when John has a better -- a more longstanding relationship with her and she can come visit him, I think that will happen.

KING: You write in your afterword, quote, "right now, I want to live for eight more years to finish the one job I know I did better than any other." That job is raising you kids.

What if you don't get the eight years?

EDWARDS: I'll be sad for me and be sad for them. I'd like to -- you know, I'd like to be -- I'd like for them to see me seeing them off in their new life. And one of the things about Wade having died when they're 16, eight years, I mean, Wade -- Jack was 18, but when Wade was 16, I could see the young man he was going to be. And if I had died when he was 16, he would know that I saw the young man he was going to be. And I think that that would give him some satisfaction.

And our relationship had changed a little bit as he had aged to that point. I'd like to -- I'd like to get to that point with my older children too, so they -- as adults, they would see me as still, you know, a presence in their life and not as that distant memory of the -- you know, the woman playing Legos with them on the floor, but somebody who was -- you know, who was a real part of their lives.

KING: Elizabeth Edwards. She'll read another segment from the book right after this.



KING: We're back with Elizabeth Edwards. The paperback now out. A major bestseller in hardcover, now a paperback. Please read a little segment from the book, just a short --

EDWARDS: OK. "Those closest to me saw the torment inside me, saw it seep into other parts of my life. But now, as I try to put that life back together, to find a new, imperfect, and yes, un-saintly me, I need to think about myself and who I really am and what I really want. And, like so many women, what I want revolves around me family."

I actually had written in the -- in the hardback originally that I was going through a lot of this torment. So before anybody drew a picture of me that was un-saintly, I drew a picture of myself, basically saying, you know, I've been angry beyond reason sometimes, that, you know, I just didn't know what -- didn't know what I -- I didn't expect this. I had no -- no place to tap inside me. I just --

And so I was -- I spent a lot of time very angry and frustrated, and so -- and I was -- I tried to be honest about that. I didn't know go on and on about -- but I did -- but I did try to be honest with -- and that's one -- I think I needed to leave behind. I needed to leave these people behind me. I needed to leave that life behind me and do something that is better for my health, better for my kids, better probably for my longevity.

KING: You know, when it happens -- and we hope it doesn't happen -- John's going to get hit awful hard. You know he's going to take a brutal beating.

EDWARDS: I -- which -- you know, he has to be responsible for himself. It just breaks my heart for my children, because one of the things that I really want is for them to have -- because they'll need it. They'll need to have a good relationship with their father. And as I -- that's enormously important to me. He's been a great father to them in a lot of ways.

You know, in some ways, has he killed them? Yes. But in so many ways, he's been really a spectacular father. And I want them to have that. So if he's going to do that, it's going to be -- it's going to make that more difficult.

KING: Is he practicing law?

EDWARDS: No. Well, I think that he's talked to people about doing it, but he's you know, sort of waiting for lots of leaves to fall off the tree or shoes to fall off or whatever, just waiting for all of that stuff to be behind him.

KING: Well, you're -- you're a vital woman. You're only 60.


KING: I say that only because 60 is --

EDWARDS: That was nice of you to say.

KING: Sixty is yesterday's 48.

EDWARDS: Yes. That's right.

KING: Well, what do you do about affection?

EDWARDS: I get -- you know, sort of -- that's a really good question, I think, and something that I thought about and makes -- and that does make me sad to think that -- that I -- you know, I may live out the rest of my days -- and the likelihood is that I'll live out the rest of my days without someone who --

KING: Holding you.


KING: Holding you.

EDWARDS: Holding me. Holding me in a passionate way. I've got -- I mean, I get more hugs than you could possibly imagine. I can't go through the airport -- you know, the TSA woman this morning at the airport, you know, if I -- and if I say go, I get lots of hugs from people and they really mean it, and it means a lot to me. But that -- that different kind of affection.

And I've also got tons of friends and I have an unbelievable family. I just have a great family. But that other kind of affection may be behind me. You know, I can't imagine -- honestly, I can't imagine circumstances where I would fall in love or that anyone would fall in love with me, you know? So -- and it is hard sometimes to think that that's a part of my past.

KING: You love John?

EDWARDS: It's -- it's -- that's a hard question to answer because I know more than one John, you know? And is there a John that I Love and will always love? There absolutely is. Do I think that he's there some place? I do. I believe that he's there.

But, you know, the last few years, I haven't lived with that John, and that's been really hard. And the John that I was living with was not a John that -- you know, it's complicated because he looked like him, talked like him, you know? But he was not a John --

KING: And his followers sure loved him.

EDWARDS: Yes. Yes. And because he stood for so many things that really mattered. Still does. I think one of the things that's very frustrating for him is the things that really matter to him, the person he really is is unable to act out.

KING: Our remaining moments with Elizabeth Edwards right after this.


KING: You know, just a couple of moments left. Elizabeth Edwards' book is "Resilience."

What do you make of Al and Tipper Gore?

EDWARDS: It makes me sad, obviously, as it makes a lot of people sad. I'm extremely fond of both of them. They're not close friends of mine, but I have had dealings with them over the years.

Tipper did pictures for an interview for me in "Elle" magazine once, and I did -- I took a picture of her for --

KING: She's a great photographer.

EDWARDS: She is a great photographer. She -- I definitely got the better end of this deal. But for the contributors page, I took a picture of her in a Mustang that Al had bought for her, which was just like the Mustang that she had when she was in high school, her first car.

KING: Yes. EDWARDS: So you could see the affection -- the affection they have for one another. But, you know, California and Washington, D.C. and Nashville -- with their life spread out that much, it may have been that at just, at some point, it was easier.

KING: What do you make of Michelle Obama?

EDWARDS: I think that she's doing a really good job with, you know, what I think -- you know, I get a lot of people saying, oh, she really wanted to be First Lady. I thought it was the worst job in the country, and I think she's doing a splendid job with it. I'm really, really --

KING: Worst job why?


KING: Worst job why?

EDWARDS: Well, because, you know, people talk about what you're wearing. If you talk about any real issue -- and you know she cares about real issues -- people can be critical of you that you're talking about a real issue. And I can't imagine being able to keep that job for four years or eight years and not talking about anything that really matters.

KING: And raising kids.

EDWARDS: And raising kids at the same time. Her girls look lovely. And I think she's doing a great job. And I love that she's wearing American designers. So I think that's fantastic.

KING: OK. You put it in the subtitle, "Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities." The burdens are obvious. What are the gifts?

EDWARDS: The gifts are that, you know, you are reminded time and again -- the easiest example is Wade's death because it's not so -- there's not so many other parts of it.

When Wade died, it was -- it was a terrible burden. But it also reminded you both of the fact that you needed to grab hold of each day. You couldn't -- you couldn't just take each day for granted. You had to make each day matter, make each interchange with people you cared about matter, you know?

In my family, my dysfunctional family, there was lots of "I love you," lots of hugs, lots of, you know, constant reminders that we cared about one another. And I think that was a gift Wade gave us. I think he -- you know, he made us understand that it was really important.

Emma Claire, when she was a baby, had colic, and she cried for hours and hours. And I could just rock her and sing to her for hours and hours, even thought she screamed back at me the whole time, because I thought, if this were Wade and I got to hold him, but he was crying, would it be OK with me? I say, you bet. And you got to understand that even if she's crying, it's a gift, this moment that I have.

And so you can learn things from each -- each thing that's sad, there's always something to be learned from it.

KING: We have less than a minute. What do you say to other cancer patients?

EDWARDS: That as long as you're walking around, as long as you're not dead now, then you're alive. And --

KING: Look in a mirror.

EDWARDS: Look at -- that's right.

KING: You're alive.

EDWARDS: You're alive and, you know, don't spend your time worrying about when it is you're going to die. Spend your time worrying about how it is you're going to live today.

KING: Elizabeth, it is a pleasure knowing you.

EDWARDS: Back to you, Larry.

KING: Hang around, OK?

EDWARDS: OK. You too.

KING: Elizabeth Edwards, "Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities." Powerful new afterword. The book is "Resilience." It will not disappoint you.

It's time now for "AC 360" and Anderson Cooper.