Elizabeth Edwards probably didn’t figure one of the toughest interviews on her publicity tour for her book Resilience was going to be an appearance on ABC’s The View on Tuesday.
First, Barbara Walters grilled her on why she wasn’t staying home with her children in the "golden days" she has left and asked if she was simply out for revenge. Several others pressed her on how she could continue to press ahead with her adulterous husband. Ironically, the only softball-thrower on the panel was Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
Edwards stammered through several challenges to her marital decisions. Sherri Shepherd asked how she could renew her vows after the adultery.
SHEPHERD: In talking about going through that healing and grieving,um your husband had asked if you guys could renew your wedding vows for your 30th anniversary, which was July 30, 2007 [ahem, hyped by ABC News.] Now that was seven months after you found out about the infidelity. How were you able to even do this when he asked you to do that?
EDWARDS: I, I, well the truth is, that was in a sense the perfect time to do it to make a, make a statement -- and the vows we said to one another acknowledged the pain that he had caused and said you know, we're going to try to start -- this is the first day of our second marriage in this sense. You know, just try to start-
JOY BEHAR: Do you trust him now? Do you trust him now?
EDWARDS: Not entirely, no. I, it- I, uh, I've been called naive, and perhaps I am. But I'm not that naive. That you know we, we, he, you know, he has a lot of work to do to rebuild that trust.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: I assume, now trust is very important, as you know. So my question to you is, during the campaign, after you knew that he had done what he had done, you still stood by his side and were out there, knowing that, if they won, if someone were to find this out, we'd be perhaps in four more or eight more years of hell with that. And that was okay with you?
EDWARDS: Well, I, understand that what I believed had happened, was that uh, I was talking about one night. You know, and did I think that one night, uh, you know, one moment of weakness was going to sink him? If I thought that about political figures, it'd be really hard to --
WALTERS: What if you had known then that he had been more --
BEHAR: He told you two days after.
WALTERS: Yeah, what if you had known then, would you still think this is, this is a man who would be a great president? Would you still have campaigned?
EDWARDS: N-no. Understand that I, I still think that it's possible for person, people to have personal human failings and still, and still have policies. Now but what, understand--
BEHAR: But, Elizabeth, we had gone through the Clinton years.
Goldberg and Behar weren’t so much upset that John Edwards was immoral as much as they were upset at the idea that the Democrats would be stuck with another public-relations embarrassment that Republicans could exploit.
The View ladies also pounded away on Mrs. Edwards over whether Rielle Hunter’s love child has a father named John Edwards:
SHERRI SHEPHERD: Now some reports say that she may get a paternity test. You said you're not interested in, in finding out about whose child this is. Is this, do do you think this is something that you need to prepare your children for? If it turns out to be this is a --
EDWARDS: Well, if I, I said -- it was not that I was not interested. But if the whole issue would go away, I’d be, that’d be perfectly happy. Somebody is obviously the father of this child. If that person has other children, then the other children need to be prepared. If that’s my husband, then it is. If it's somebody else, than they need to make certain that their children are prepared for this, this change in their lives.
When I've talked about it, though, you know, it doesn’t, um, the fact doesn't change my relationship with my husband.
WALTERS: I'm not sure I understand. If you found -- I do want to say something about why we're talking to you here, because you've gone through so much and our hearts do go out to you. What we are trying to do is to give some of the questions that you know have been written about that you haven't had a chance to answer. If it does turn out that this is your husband's child, would you leave him?
EDWARDS: No. No, I--
WALTERS: Would you then tell the children and try to have them accept this child?
EDWARDS: Of course, whatever the arrangements turn out to be then would require different conversations. But, but absolutely you'd tell them, have conversations with the children. And it's not like they don't –you know, my children have computers. They, they go on the internet.
WALTERS: Right now you don't think this is his child?
HASSELBECK: Has he had contact with this other woman in terms of if that test is positive?
EDWARDS: Well, well I'm the wrong person to ask about that. I don't think so. But I think that--
WALTERS: You don't think this is his child?
EDWARDS: I-I don't know whose child this is. And, uh, you know, I think that's probably the reason there is no father written on the birth certificate, I understand. But whoever the father is, they're, they’re going uh, uh, to have to deal with the fact that they have this child.
From my perspective, my, and this was the question I was answering for Oprah, my relationship with my husband is not changed by this. What, however it turns out, he did what he did and that's the problem with our marriage. The consequences of it would only matter if he had been trying to start a family with this woman. No one--
SHEPHERD: But you still have to live with the consequences of what you did.
BEHAR: And so do your children.
SHEPHERD: Every day looking at this child is a, you know, reminder of what was done.
GOLDBERG: But I don't think Elizabeth has to look at the child. That's the whole point.
EDWARDS: That's right. I don't have to.
Finally, here’s the initial exchange where Barbara Walters suggests she’s not spending enough time with her young children:
WALTERS: You have terminal cancer. There are some people who have said you have three children, two of whom are very young, an 11-year-old, Emma Claire, and nine-year-old Jack. Would you not be spending whatever days you have with your children rather than writing a book, going on television shows, touring with it, taking all that time, that precious time away from your children?
EDWARDS: I thought a lot about that and it's not just the book. I'm a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress. I speak about health care. I give speeches to breast cancer groups, do fundraisers for people. I do a lot of traveling away from my children.
And I've often said I wish I knew the answer to this question. If I'm living one year, I live it much differently than if I'm living 10.
WALTERS: Do you have any idea?
EDWARDS: I don't have any idea.
WALTERS: You don't think you should spend these golden days, let's say, with your children
EDWARDS: I think that, I want my children to know a lot of things about me after I'm gone. But one of them is that I cared about things outside of my own life and I tried to make a difference in those areas because that's an important lesson for them to learn. If I don't show it in this instance, how is it that, you know, they're really going to internalize it in the way they might?
WALTERS: Can I ask you another part of that? Because you didn't have to do this book. Were you at all concerned, especially for your little children, that writing so intimately about your intimate affairs with your husband might embarrass them, might make it perhaps a little more difficult at school?
EDWARDS: Well, understand that I wrote this book -- first of all, I agreed to write the book before I knew of any of these things and I decided to keep my agreement to write it, although I has so-- I admit I had some hesitation about it. But I wrote it from my perspective, the things that I went through. I went through these things in my house, with my children.
They actually, it's not like there is some part of this they didn't experience. We try, you try to shield them as much as possible. But if you're screaming at your husband you know, they’re going to know it.
It's kind of odd for Barbara Walters to press someone else about embarrassing family members by telling private tales about extramarital affairs. Barbara did just that in her own recent memoir, Audition.
The transcript was done by MRC's Colleen Raezler.