John Edwards’ Ex-Mistress Breaks Silence

After years of scandal and speculation, John Edwards’ infamous other woman, Rielle Hunter, is telling her story for the first time in an interview with GQ magazine, revealing the secrets of her affair with the former presidential candidate she calls “Johnny,” the baby they “conceived in love,” and the “mighty wrath” of his wife, Elizabeth.

In a story titled, “Hello, America, My Name Is Rielle Hunter,” the former campaign videographer says she urged Edwards to drop out of the presidential race after his wife’s cancer returned in March 2007, saying his astrological sign suggested he was in for a tough three months.

“My surprise was that they stayed in the race,” Hunter said. “I was shocked. I really viewed it as reckless. And what’s interesting is that she wanted to stay in. That’s the key. He wanted to get out, and she wanted to stay in.”

In her first interview since she was revealed as Edwards’ mistress, Hunter opens up to GQ and poses for photos for the magazine, lounging seductively in man-tailored white shirt (and no pants) in one photo, while baring her belly and clutching the daughter she had with Edwards, 2-year-old Frances Quinn, in another.

Hunter, 45, tells the magazine it was love at first sight when she spotted Edwards, 56, at New York’s Regency Hotel on Feb. 21, 2006. She said they spent the night together on the day they met.

“Falling in love with you could really f*** up my plans for becoming president,” Hunter said Edwards told her in his hotel room. She said she “had never experienced anything like what was flowing between us. … there was sooo much attraction and sooo much — I want to say love… I eventually walked over to his side of the room. He was pretty relentless. And that’s all I’m gonna say on that.”

Within four days, Hunter says, she was “head over heels in love,” soon flying all over the country to meet him and joining his campaign as a videographer in April 2006. Hunter said the “force field” of her love overrode her concerns about engaging in a relationship with a married man. Furthermore, according to Hunter, the Edwardses’ marriage appeared happy on the outside but was, in fact, “dysfunctional and toxic and awful.”

“The appearance of having that charmed life was built on a lie. The lie of the story line they both created together,” she told GQ’s Lisa DePaulo. “The break in the marriage happens before the infidelity. And that break happened, you know, two and a half decades before I got there. So the home was wrecked already. I was not the Home Wrecker.”

Hunter claims Edwards suffered “abuse” in his marriage to Elizabeth Edwards, saying: “Most of [John’s] mistakes or errors in judgment were because of his fear of the wrath of Elizabeth. … And you know, the wrath of Elizabeth is a mighty wrath.”

Hunter said Elizabeth Edwards found out her husband was cheating a year into the affair, in the winter of 2007, after Edwards had announced his presidential bid. Hunter had bought John Edwards a second cell phone for her use only, but they were caught when Elizabeth found the phone and called the last number dialed, which was Hunter’s.

“I answered the phone and said, ‘Hey, baby,'” Hunter told GQ. “And, click. And then [Elizabeth] confronted him and confronted him, and he finally confessed.”

The nature of Hunter’s current relationship with Edwards is unclear, as she tells GQ she was “happy” to stop being his mistress in July 2008, when their relationship “evolved into something different” and claims their love is “still big.”

“We love each other very much,” she said. “And that hasn’t changed, and I believe that will be till death do us part. The love doesn’t go away.”

Hunter, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., said her heart went out to Elizabeth Edwards when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in March 2007.

“Oh, my God, I have such compassion for her. I really do. I mean, especially when you have terminal cancer. … I watched my father die of cancer,” she said. “But it’s also sad to me, her unwillingness to take responsibility for her part in the marriage. And her unwillingness to face the truth … she really believes that it’s everyone else’s fault.”

John and Elizabeth Edwards separated in January, even after renewing their vows in July 2008, when John knew Hunter was pregnant with their daughter and, she said, he urged her to consider an abortion.

“On some level, he was hoping I would get an abortion,” Hunter said. “He wasn’t happy about the timing. Which is understandable. He was married and running for president.”

She said she welcomed her first pregnancy at 43, calling her daughter “a love child” who was “conceived in love.”

Hunter said she regrets the charade that pegged Edwards aide Andrew Young as the father of her baby. She claims she went along with the scheme for her daughter’s sake.

“I felt that if he dropped out [of the race] and blamed her, for coming into the world, that that would be something I didn’t know if she could get over,” she told GQ. “I didn’t want her held — or her to feel — responsible.”

Edwards acknowledged his paternity in January, reversing a vehement denial he issued to ABC’s Bob Woodruff in 2008, in which he said it was “impossible” for him to have fathered Quinn.

While Hunter admits Young helped her financially during her pregnancy, she denied reports she was given “hush money.”

“Andrew gave me because he felt I shouldn’t be using my own money to travel to see Johnny. Andrew always wanted to ‘take care of everything,'” she said.

“Johnny always said to me I could talk to the media whenever I wanted.”

Young has been questioned by a grand jury investigating whether Edwards’ campaign funds were misused in the cover-up of his affair with Hunter, who testified before federal investigators for nine hours. She tells GQ she “absolutely” does not think Edwards will be indicted and defends one of his former supporters, Fred Baron, who paid Hunter’s rent and supplied funds for her and Quinn to live on.

“Fred gave me the as a gift with no strings attached,” she said. “Fred was a very kind and generous man. He even paid for a security guard when he was concerned about our safety.”

The affair may permanently dash Edwards’ political dreams, but Hunter said she believes his new life is just beginning.

“Everyone talks about how Johnny has fallen from grace. In reality, he’s fallen to grace. He is integrated. He is living a life of truth,” she told GQ, “He has grown in awareness and humility. He had all these things within him, but they weren’t the guiding, leading principles of his life. Now they are.”

Hunter said she wants the world to know she is not the “other woman” who has been demonized in the press.

“I’m not a predator, I’m not a gold digger, I’m not the stalker,” she said. “I didn’t have any power in that way in our relationship. He held all the power.”

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