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John Edwards Admits to Extramarital Affair; Fears of New Russian War

Aired August 8, 2008 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're continuing to follow the breaking news, shocking news, indeed. John Edwards now admits he lied about an extramarital affair when he ran for president this year. A new report of the Democrat's startling confession in a television interview, and the implications for him and his party.
We're watching this story.

Also, Barack Obama tries to make the Clintons happy as the Democratic convention nears. But are Senator Clinton's die-hard supporters going to cause him trouble?

And fears of an all-out war after Russian tanks roll into Georgia, the Republic of Georgia. There are reports of bombs dropped and bodies in the streets.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

But up first this hour, the breaking news involving sex, politics and scandal. John Edwards was able to keep a lid on rumors about his personal life when he was running for president this year. But no more.

ABC News reports the Democrat now is admitting he had an extramarital affair that began back in 2006, and he acknowledges repeatedly lying about it while he was a candidate for president. He's also speaking out about allegations he fathered the woman's child.

We're expecting Edwards to release a formal statement soon. Stand by for that.

But let's go to Brian Todd. He's been checking into the breaking news and he's got this report.

Brian, what do we know?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the pressure to address this had been reaching critical mass for John Edwards for a couple of days now. Tonight, he's apparently dealing with it.

As you said, ABC News reporting on their Web site that tonight, on the program "Nightline," Edwards will admit that he had an affair with a woman who had worked on his campaign. ABC says that Edwards will deny that he is the father of that woman's child, but he says he has not taken a paternity test. Edwards reportedly says he does not think he's the father based on the timing of the child's birth in February of this year, that the affair ended too early for him to be the father, according to him.

Now, according to ABC's Web site, Edwards will admit that he repeatedly lied during his presidential campaign this year when he issued denials of the affair. Now we're about to play an exchange with a reporter just two weeks ago, when Edwards denied it again.

Take a listen.


QUESTION: Senator, I have a question. When you were running for president, you flat-out denied having a relationship with Rielle Hunter. Is -- did you give me a truthful answer? Were you telling me the truth then?


QUESTION: Has you or your campaign provided any financial help to Rielle Hunter or Andrew Young? Has you or anyone affiliated with your presidential campaign provided any financial help to Rielle Hunter or Andrew Young?

EDWARDS: I have no idea what you're asking about. I've responded consistently to these tabloid allegations by saying I don't respond to these lies. And you know that, Raylin (ph), you've covered me. And I stand by that.


TODD: The woman's name that you heard on that tape, the woman with whom Edwards reportedly had the affair, Rielle Hunter, a filmmaker who worked on Edwards' campaign, Edwards will reportedly admit that the tabloid "National Enquirer" was correct when it reported that he visited Hunter at a Beverly Hills hotel last month. The two reportedly met a couple of years ago.

According to ABC, Edwards says his wife Elizabeth became aware of the relationship back in 2006. Edwards reportedly tells ABC that his wife's cancer was in remission when he began the affair. Elizabeth Edwards has since then developed an incurable form of cancer.

CNN repeatedly tried to reach John Edwards over the past several days. His representatives have told us they will have no comment on this story. CNN has tried contacting Rielle Hunter for weeks, but we have been unsuccessful -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I want you to stand by for a moment, Brian, because last year, in June of 2007, our Soledad O'Brien moderated a forum on faith here in Washington, and she had this exchange at that time with John Edwards, who was running for president.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: What is the biggest sin you've ever committed? Are you willing to say? You can take a pass, sir, as you know.

EDWARDS: Just between you and me?

O'BRIEN: Just between you and me, and the 1,300 people in the crowd.

EDWARDS: I'd have a very hard time telling you one thing, one specific sin.


EDWARDS: If I've had a day -- I'm about to turn 54 years old this Sunday, and if I've had a day in my 54 years where I haven't sinned multiple times, I would be amazed. I believe I have.

I sin every single day. We are all sinners, we all fall short, which is why we have to ask for forgiveness from the lord. I can't -- to try to identify one particular sin that was worse or more extreme than the others, the list is too long.


BLITZER: All right. That was John Edwards speaking at that faith forum in June of 2007.

Our Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger is on the phone for us.

I can only imagine, Gloria, what the uproar right now would be if, in fact, he had captured the Democratic presidential nomination and was the nominee-in-waiting right now.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think, Wolf, there are lots of Democrats who are grateful that he didn't. I mean, obviously lying like this, brazenly, is going to put an end, probably, to his political career and could effect whether he gets any role if Barack Obama were to win the presidency, whether in fact he would get any role in an Obama administration.

BLITZER: And we're waiting to get a formal statement from John Edwards. We're told that statement will be coming up fairly soon. But it is rather shocking news, because everything that I've always known involving John Edwards when he was a senator from North Carolina, when he was the vice presidential nominee back in 2004, he had -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- he had a pretty good reputation out there as a devoted, loving family man.

BORGER: A terrific reputation, Wolf. And of course, his wife, Elizabeth, has been a huge part of his political career, his political life. She's been one of his top and most trusted advisers. When she was diagnosed with the recurrence of her breast cancer, it was made very public that together they decided to continue the campaign, in fact, for the presidency, that she was the one who wanted him to continue his run for the presidency.

So I think John Edwards, more than many politicians we see, has really been identified as part of a team. Elizabeth Edwards has been with him all the way, and, in fact, was a very, very visible spokeswoman for him during the campaign -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by, Gloria, because I want to bring in Jessica Yellin right now.

You covered the Edwards campaign. You were out there on a nearly daily basis watching this campaign. I remember at the time those rumors started to circulate, he flatly denied those rumors several times, rumors that didn't get much attention nationally. "The National Enquirer" was reporting a lot of those stories at the time.

But give us your sense of what's going on right now, Jessica.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he denied those rumors, Wolf, and sort of scowled at and dismissed reporters who even dared bring them up, like how dare we bring this into the campaign?

You know, I want to follow up on something Gloria was saying, which is, John Edwards, more than most other politicians, made his marriage a central part of his public character, his campaign, his overall message. Not only was Elizabeth his partner on the trail, but it was part of the message, the brand he sold that he was this family man.

He would often talk about the story where he and Elizabeth, his wife, first had their -- I think it was their first date at a Wendy's. And our producer, Sasha Johnson (ph), tells the story of going when she was on the Kerry bus and John Edwards was the VP nominee at the time, they went and drove up to a Wendy's, and the press corps had to sit on the bus while everyone watched John Edwards and Elizabeth go inside and celebrate their anniversary at a Wendy's, because they always told the story, this was their tradition.

You know, he'd talk about the loss of his son and having more kids later in life, and how this was so essential to who he is and as a man. And also, why he was running for office, that he was doing it for his family. And that's why this is so devastating to him publicly and politically as well, I'm sure, no doubt, as personally.

BLITZER: It's truly a shocking, shocking story.

Jessica, stand by.

I want to play another clip of what he told our Soledad O'Brien at that faith forum here in Washington back in June of last year while he was running for president. Listen to this.


EDWARDS: I can tell you that I pray daily. I've been through a faith journey in my life, you know? I'll be the first to admit that.

I grew up in the Baptist Church, I was baptized in the Baptist Church, a person of strong faith when I was young. I strayed away from the lord for a period of time, and then came back in my adulthood. And my faith came roaring back during some crises that my own family was faced with.


BLITZER: All right. Let's bring in Paul Begala and Alex Castellanos. They're here to assess the -- what's going on.

I just want to remind our viewers, that was last year, in June of 2007, at that faith forum, when he spoke about some of these personal issues. Obviously, he didn't speak at all about any extramarital affair.

But it's pretty shocking to see how this story is unfolding, don't you think, Paul?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It is, but then again, you're reminded of John Hiatt, the great songwriter who described infidelity as the most unoriginal sin. And I'm going to be watching the political landscape to see who casts the first stone, because then I'll know that's a perfect person, that's the only person who's never committed a sin.

So like I say, personally, my heart goes out to the Edwards family, Mrs. Edwards' kids, also Senator Edwards. He's a good man who did a bad thing. That makes him a human being.

BLITZER: What do you think, Alex?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think it's just a tragedy to see this happen to a family, not to a political leader. The family comes first, obviously.

But it's also something that, you know, the questions are going to be asked, does this hurt Republicans or Democrats, or the political impact. And the truth is that it's going to hurt everybody, because right now, in an uncertain world, we're looking to see who we can trust to lead the country, and this lessens, I think, faith in political leadership in general.

BLITZER: It just sort of reaffirms the nature -- the notion that these politicians, you know what? They're just politicians and they really can't be trusted.

BEGALA: And believe me, this is not a sin unique to politicians. It even happens to preachers, it even happens to teachers, it even happens to football coaches. It happens, you know, all across our culture.

I think Alex makes a point that there's a larger loss of faith in institutions, whether it's big business, whether it's certainly in this government. But keep in mind, you know, John Edwards did not order that anyone be tortured. He did not violate the Geneva Convention. He did not forge a document to lead us into a war.

He cheated on his wife. BLITZER: It will disappoint a lot of his ardent supporters and a lot of other Americans as well. There's no doubt about that.

BEGALA: Oh, absolutely. It was a personal shortcoming, a personal tragedy for him and for his family, but he holds no public office and he seeks no public office.

BLITZER: He is a private citizen right now.

BEGALA: Right.

CASTELLANOS: He is a private citizen.

BLITZER: He was running for president. He was the Democratic vice presidential nominee. He was running for president of the United States, even at a time when he now acknowledges to ABC News that he was having an extramarital affair.

CASTELLANOS: And he is someone who considered that he might have a political future, that he might run again next time, that he might be part of an Obama cabinet. And so, you know, questions about his credibility do come on the table.

I mean, here was a candidate whose campaign theme was there were two Americas, and now it turns out there were two John Edwards. And that, again, does raise issues of trust in the political establishment.

BLITZER: Can he come back? And I ask you the question, Paul Begala, as someone who worked very closely with Bill Clinton when he faced very similar problems of an extramarital affair.

BEGALA: There was a time when a divorced person could not seek public office after being divorced. And then first Nelson Rockefeller was the vice president of the United States, the first one to have been divorced. President Reagan had been divorced. Now it's a fairly common thing.

I think most people don't hold it against someone if they've had a failed marriage. I'm not saying that this is nothing. But this is a man who, I do think, has a real powerful message about caring for the poor, about reminding us of the better angels of our nature.

Yes, he fell short of the glory of God. We all do. But he also tried to call Democrats, but also all Americans, to this message that he had particularity about poverty. And my hope is that Senator Obama now, as my party's leader, will continue to carry that message forward even though the messenger himself was flawed.

CASTELLANOS: This is not just an issue of human perfectibility. We all fall short.

It is an issue of trust and trust in our leadership. I mean, we do, Paul, hit the larger point on the head.

We live in a culture where you go into an elevator and you punch those "close door" buttons and you kind of think they're phony. The thermostats in office buildings now, you know, some are fake.

We live in a culture where we're increasingly distant from reality. Country Crock spread, it's not from the country, it doesn't come in a crock. One name, two lies.

And increasingly, we're looking for what's real in our culture. And I think especially in an uncertain time like this, you know, how can you believe the promises?

Yes, he has a great agenda for Democrats. But how can you trust those things? And I think that's the questions that all politicians are going to be increasingly asked. And especially, this happening now in the summer news doldrums, you know, this story is not going to go away for a while.

This is until the conventions come up. This is going to fill center stage.

BLITZER: Well, we'll see how long it does do that. But hold on, guys.

I want to bring in Jack Cafferty and get his thoughts.

Jack, this story's been out there for sometime. "The National Enquirer" as a lot of our viewers probably know, they have been reporting it for sometime.

But go ahead and tell us what you think now that John Edwards has formally told ABC News, you know what, the story about my having an extramarital affair is actually true?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I read the ABC News story, the transcript, or a piece of the interview that's going to run on "Nightline" tonight, and the two things that stuck out in that piece of copy that I read to me were, "I didn't love her," talking about the woman he had an affair with, and, "My wife's cancer was in remission at the time."

What does that have to do with anything? I mean, it's almost like, well, I didn't really love her and my wife wasn't that sick, so, you know, maybe it's not that big a deal.

I just thought, you know, you cop to the thing, you own up, you say, I did this, it was wrong. You don't say, I had this affair, but I didn't really love her, and my wife's cancer was in remission at the time. That's just as phony as a $3 bill.

That's politics, and that's probably even more wrong than the fact that, you know, something went haywire in his marriage and he wound up straying off the straight and narrow. I just didn't care for those two remarks.

BLITZER: Listen to this, Jack. I'm going to play that little clip when, during the campaign, he was asked about these reports, these rumors that he was having an extramarital affair. I'm going to play his denial for you. Listen to this.


QUESTION: Senator, I have a question. When you were running for president, you flat-out denied having a relationship with Rielle Hunter. Is -- did you give me a truthful answer? Were you telling me the truth then?


QUESTION: Has you or your campaign provided any financial help to Rielle Hunter or Andrew Young? Has you or anyone affiliated with your presidential campaign provided any financial help to Rielle Hunter or Andrew Young?

EDWARDS: I have no idea what you're asking about. I've responded consistently to these tabloid allegations by saying I don't respond to these lies. And you know that, Raylin (ph), you've covered me. And I stand by that.


BLITZER: That was back on July 24th, long after he had dropped out as a presidential candidate. But clearly, he was lying when he made those comments.

CAFFERTY: There's a line in on old George Jones country song, "You're as smooth as Tennessee whiskey." He's smooth.

He was one of the most successful and compelling trial lawyers in the country, won huge class action judgments against some of the big corporations. And he's smooth.

But when you watch, you know, that exchange with a reporter knowing what the truth was, you can kind of see it. And "The National Enquirer" trapped him in a bathroom at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning here a couple of weeks ago, in the basement of a hotel he wasn't registered in, after he'd spent four or five hours in the room with Ms. Hunter. They tried to ask him a question, he ran and got in the bathroom and held the door shut.

I mean, the game is over at that point. You know, you have no reason to be in the hotel, and why are you running from the reporter and holding the door shut?

So, you know, it's an unfortunate story. But this nonsense, "I didn't love her and my wife's cancer was in remission at the time," that doesn't go anywhere.

Let me get to this. Barack Obama's going somewhere. He's going to Hawaii. He's finally going to take a week off.

Nineteen months on the campaign trail, Obama and his family are off to Hawaii for a week. He wants to visit his grandmother and relax. Obama's vacation coincides with the first week of the Olympic games, which many expect would be a lull in the presidential race anyway.

Nevertheless, Obama's vacation comes at a time when some Democrats are nervous. Many thought he'd have a much larger lead in the polls over John McCain by this point, and there's always a risk that the wrong photograph could become political ammunition against him. Remember those pictures of John Kerry wind surfing in 2004?

Obama admits that as a candidate, you always worry about taking time off during a campaign. But he says it's time for a break. He says he hasn't seen his grandmother in almost two years, he wants to spend time with her and his daughters and his wife.

"The Financial Times" reports that Democrats say Obama needs to accomplish the following when he comes back from the vacation: Put on a good event to name his vice presidential choice, and deliver an exceptional speech at the convention. By the way, his acceptance speech at Invesco Mile High Field in Denver, Colorado, sold out in one day. That stadium holds 75,000 people.

Some think that Barack Obama should be hitting back harder against John McCain's attacks. New York Senator Chuck Schumer suggests Obama ought to respond to McCain's personal attacks in kind.

But it's worth remembering that Obama ran the same kind of positive, high-road campaign in the face of the attacks from Hillary Clinton that he's running against John McCain. And against Clinton, it turned out just fine.

So here's the question: Is this the right time for Barack Obama to take a vacation?

Go to, you can post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Stand by, Jack. Thanks very much.

Remember, we're standing by for a statement from John Edwards. We expect that statement fairly soon. He's now acknowledging to ABC News that he did in fact have an extramarital affair starting back in 2006.

We'll get you the statement as soon as we get it.

Also, other important news we're following today, including Russian and Georgian troops. They're now battling over a breakaway province. It's threatening to plunge the region into a full-scale war, and it could drag the United States into it as well.

And Hillary Clinton is now speaking out on Barack Obama's behalf, only within the past hour. You're going to hear what she's been saying. The Obama camp still is wary of Clinton's hold-out supporters and what they may do next.

We have a full report coming up.

And behind the scenes at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, what life really looks like for some prisoners there.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: We're following the breaking news involving John Edwards. He has now acknowledged to ABC News that he did, in fact, have an extramarital affair going back to 2006.

We're anticipating a formal statement from John Edwards fairly soon. Once we get it, we'll share it with you.

But let's move on and discuss some other important news following today.

A very dangerous situation overseas in what was once the Soviet Union. There are now new fears of an all-out war between Russia and the Republic of Georgia, former Republic of the Soviet Union which borders Russia.

Troops from both sides are engaged in fierce and deadly fighting. Georgia launched a major military offensive to retake away a breakaway territory, the pro-Russian province of South Ossetia.

Russian troops then moved in. The United States and other nations are urgently pushing for a cease-fire right now.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She's working the story for us.

There are serious ramifications for the U.S. and its allies in what's going on right now. And there are plenty of Americans in Georgia right now, many of whom, I take it, are deeply worried.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. The U.S. military has been watching this situation unfold all day long, and concern is only growing.

In the latest development, Georgia has now said it will pull its 2,000 peacekeepers -- its 2,000 troops, pardon me -- out of Iraq and bring them home to deal with the crisis there. Georgia asking the United States for airlift to get its troops out of Iraq and bring them back. The Pentagon considering how to do that.

But the U.S. military also watching very carefully. There are about 2,000 Americans in Georgia, including about 130 troops. At this point, they all appear to be fine. But the Pentagon is doing very preliminary planning just in case an evacuation were to be ordered, were to become necessary, because no one can really predict over the next several days how this situation is going to unfold -- Wolf.

BLITZER: But if there were an airlift, for example, in an ugly or dangerous environment, that could be pretty risky business.

STARR: It would indeed. Now, the U.S. could accomplish this airlift a couple of different ways. They could use a U.S. military transport aircraft, or a series of aircraft. That might be a bit difficult in the current environment. Of course, they also could charter an aircraft from a third country, but whatever happens, the U.S. is making it very clear to both sides, it wants everybody to ratchet down tensions, take a deep breath, and try and work this situation out.

As we have reported throughout the day, top administration officials from President Bush on down talking to officials on both sides, trying to get everybody to find a way to resolve this situation before tensions escalate even further -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Barbara's watching at the Pentagon for us, as she always does.

Both presidential candidates in this country are weighing in on the conflict between Russia and the Georgian Republic. Here's what John McCain said earlier today.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory. What is most critical now is to avoid further confrontation between Russian and Georgian military forces.


BLITZER: Barack Obama issued a statement saying, and I'll read it to you, "I strongly condemn the outbreak of violence in Georgia, and urge an immediate end to armed conflict. Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to avoid an escalation to full-scale war."

We're monitoring the story for you.


BLITZER: John Edwards involved in a sex scandal. We're following the breaking news. We're waiting for a statement from John Edwards, adding to a report that he admits lying about an affair.

Stand by for that.

And while Barack Obama starts his vacation, Hillary Clinton starts campaigning for him by herself. She also talks about their hard-fought campaign. She spoke out within the past hour. We'll tell you what she's saying, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, we have breaking news that we're following, John Edwards' stunning admission to a sex scandal. He admits having an extramarital affair and repeatedly lying about it.

Any moment now, John Edwards is expected to release a formal statement. We will bring it to you when we get it. He tells ABC News that he did have this affair.

Also, "The National Enquirer" broke the story. You're going to hear from its editor on how they did it, why they did it. That's coming up as well.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

He admits having an affair and repeatedly lying about it, and he denies he's the father of a child from the woman. John Edwards tells ABC News that, yes, he did have an affair. He denies, as I said, he's the father. We continue to following the breaking news.

Let's bring in our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, and CNN's Jessica Yellin. They have been watching this story together.

Bill, you know, we have -- we have seen politicians over the years forced to come clean and to acknowledge they have had an extramarital affair. But, with John Edwards -- I don't know about you, but, for me, this was pretty surprising.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it was, given the fact that he was on a national ticket and certainly understands the intense press scrutiny, and he ran for president again this year.

The affair apparently took place in 2006. He says -- he made a point of telling ABC News that it happened when his wife's cancer was in remission. Then, he ran for president and must have believed that this story would not get out, repeatedly lied about it.

But the problem is, many other people, including members of his family, including his wife, knew about the affair -- very, very dangerous and risky to lie about something like this if there are people who do know that you are lying.

BLITZER: Because he says in this ABC News interview, Bill, that his wife found out about it back in 2006. That's when she was in remission for her cancer. Unfortunately, it came back the following year, while he was running for president of the United States, inoperable cancer, as they have been saying.

You were covering, Jessica Yellin, the campaign at that time, when -- when -- when all of this was going on, the Edwards campaign, and there were rumors that began to surface.

YELLIN: There were rumors. And John Edwards, as we have shown, was asked about this rumor in particular, and denied it, and sort of brushed off reporters for asking about it, as if it didn't have any place in the campaign.

You know, maybe it shouldn't, but this is the reality we live in. And, at the time, he said, obviously, he had -- that it was completely false.

You know, one of the things that strikes me, Wolf, is, John Edwards had a brand that was two things, one, the family man, and, two, the authentic, real guy who's sort of a truth-teller. He was always railing against corporate interests, against powerful organizations that spin you and don't tell you the truth, and he was going to tell it to you like it is.

And I think, because he sold himself as a guy who's always going to straight -- shoot straight, and because he was such a family man -- he always made his family the centerpiece of his public persona -- it's very, very damaging to him publicly to be revealed in this way, to have not told the truth, and also betrayed his wife in this way.

And it really undermines his credibility as a person, because we no longer know who is the real John Edwards and is he telling us the truth at any point? Obviously, it's a personal tragedy for his whole family, but, politically, also, incredibly devastating for those reasons.

BLITZER: And it was only within the past few weeks, Bill Schneider, that there was talk that he would have a prominent role at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, that he might even get -- some even speculated he could be on the short list as a vice presidential running mate, something he had done once before, back in 2004, when he was the vice presidential running mate for John Kerry, but, if not that, presumably, he was a potential Cabinet member if, in fact, Barack Obama were to be elected president of the United States.

I suspect all that has simply gone away, at least for now.

SCHNEIDER: I would imagine it has, though one never knows in politics.

The interesting thing is that he -- he ran for president this year, 2008. This affair happened in 2006, although he saw the woman as recently as last month. That was after his presidential campaign ended, of course.

But he ran for president, with himself, members of his staff, members of his family knowing about this affair. These days, everything private in a -- in a presidential campaign does become public. And it's hard to see what he was thinking when he ran for president, pursued this campaign, may have even allowed himself to be on lists for -- for vice president, and believed he could keep this kind of secret.

BLITZER: So, I suspect, Jessica, that he's going to simply go away for the time being, as he -- he deals with this, deals with his family, deals with Rielle Hunter, this other woman with whom he now acknowledges having had this affair.

We're not going to be seeing or hearing a lot from him. I just suspect that.

YELLIN: Right. We should expect probably that he will release this statement that we're waiting for, and then he will try to disappear for a while. And, in America, we love rehabilitations and comeback stories. So, you know, don't count him out.

But there's no doubt that this was released today. Why did he choose today to do this interview? Tonight is this big night on the Olympics. It's a Friday. I'm sure there's a desire that this would get buried in the news coverage of the Olympics over a weekend.

But the problem is, also, Barack Obama on vacation, the news media is going to continue to pursue this. And, so, no -- I would have to guess John Edwards would try to lay low and make this go away as quickly as he can.

BLITZER: Politicians are going to be really reluctant to speak about this, although Hillary Clinton was just asked to comment, and she offered a very, very terse comment. I will play it for you.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Well, look, my thoughts and prayers are with the Edwards family today. And that's all I have to say.

Thank you all.


BLITZER: I wouldn't expect her to be saying much more than that.

I don't think any of these politicians, Bill Schneider, are going to want to get too deeply involved in this situation...


BLITZER: ... including Republicans, for that matter.

SCHNEIDER: Oh, well, remember what happened when Bill Clinton was impeached? Suddenly, all -- we found out all this news about all these members of Congress who were active in the impeachment episode who suddenly were revealed to have had adulterous affairs themselves.

It became a major embarrassment, including one man was going to become speaker of the House to succeed Newt Gingrich, and the Henry -- the late Henry Hyde. I mean, all of these things started coming out.

One of the most damaging this is not simply -- I mean, it's certainly important that he lied repeatedly, but also that his campaign put this woman on the payroll. She was paid $114,000 to produce Web videos for the campaign. I believe she made about four of them. And, then, suddenly, she stopped, and these Web videos simply disappeared.

So, that's going to raise the question of whether this money was some kind of hush money or support money. He says that there was no money paid to her to keep quiet. But it was possible some of his friends or supporters may have paid her money without telling him, which means that other people may have known about it. And this money is a serious amount of money that this woman was getting from either the Edwards campaign or friends and supporters of John Edwards.

BLITZER: We have a little clip from the TV program "Extra," I think, from back in 2006 -- 2007 -- excuse me -- from Rielle Hunter, this -- the woman involved in this extramarital affair with John Edwards.

Let me play that for you.


RIELLE HUNTER, HAD EXTRAMARITAL AFFAIR WITH JOHN EDWARDS: It was a random meeting. He was in a business meeting in New York, and I was in the same place.

I'm pretty courageous...


HUNTER: ... by nature. And I really felt that I could help in some way.

I traveled for six months. It was great. We went to Africa, which was an amazing experience, going to Uganda. The whole experience was life-altering for me. One of the great things about John Edwards is that he's so open and willing to try new things and do things in new ways.


BLITZER: Now, that interview with "Extra" was done last year, 2007. John Edwards tells ABC News the affair actually began a year earlier, in 2006.

As you watch that, Jessica Yellin, and you see this woman talking about her role in the campaign, she wasn't acknowledging any affair or anything like that with John Edwards. She was only talking about what it was like to produce these videos for his Web site and what it was like working with him. What -- what goes through your mind?

YELLIN: Well, you know, she sounds like a lot of the people who were devoted to his campaign. I mean, the folks on his campaign knew that it was sort of a dark horse. He wasn't the favorite. But they were really committed to his message of empowering people who don't have a voice in America.

And they really saw him as sort of a crusader, somebody who at least could change the debate. And I know that there has to be a lot of real unhappiness going on -- going around his staff right now, embarrassment, sadness.

Also, you know, Elizabeth Edwards, herself, is a person who has enormous respect among Democratic Party establishment, not only for the fight she has gone through with cancer, and also her experience losing her son, but also her fight for health care. And she's been a champion for other people who are struggling without health care, and has sort of used it to persevere through her own illness.

So, the -- the personal tragedy of this becomes so poignant when you hear her talking and you think about the family, just a very, very sad moment, and still so many unanswered questions. In some ways, what we know about this story raises more questions than it answers. Why was he visiting the child if it wasn't his, et cetera? It's just a very bizarre story at this point.

BLITZER: He -- and he denies, based on what he says is the timing, that he is the father of this child.

All right, guys, stand by for a moment.

It will be fascinating to see how Elizabeth Edwards reacts to this story, to this acknowledgment by her husband that he did, in fact, have this extramarital affair.

The other woman, Rielle Hunter, who Edwards now admits to having an affair with was, once paid by the Edwards' One America Committee. She produced a series of Web documentaries.

Let's bring in our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton, because she's looking into this.

Whatever happened to those Web -- Web videos, Abbi?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, they were called Webisodes when they were released in late 2006, a series of online documentaries.

And, really, for about a year now, they have been the subject of rumor and speculation online, because, at some point last year, they disappeared. They're back online now. They were a series of behind- the-scenes looks at the -- at Edwards in late 2006, sound bites, interviews with him. And he was really trying to portray himself in these as authentic.


JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Me, personally, I would rather be successful or unsuccessful based on who I really am, not based on some plastic Ken doll that you put up in front of audiences.


TATTON: Those were released at the end of 2006.

And then, at some point in 2007, they disappeared. The links from the One America Committee Web site were taken down. Bloggers couldn't find them on YouTube. "The Huffington Post," in an article by Sam Stein, looked into to where they gone, writing, "Innocuous Videos Suddenly Shrouded in Secrecy," trying to dig into a little bit about why these were no longer online.

At the time they were released at the end of 2006, Rielle Hunter gave an interview to "Newsweek," saying that she was a filmmaker and had just met Edwards in a bar, and that's how she got the job.

As I said, they disappeared online. But nothing really disappears from the Internet. And, so, bloggers for months now have been digging them up and reposting them on YouTube with titles like "Missing Videos" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Abbi. We will stay in touch with you on this story as well.

We're going to continue to follow the John Edwards story and bring you new information as soon as we get it. We're awaiting a statement from Edwards himself. Stand by for that.

Also ahead, a unique look inside Guantanamo Bay -- our Jamie McIntyre shows us what life is like for some of the prisoners there. That's coming up. The video will show us maybe it's not as tough as a lot of us might think.

Plus, Barack Obama on vacation, but Hillary Clinton is going on the campaign trail for him. You're going to hear her, in her own words.

That's coming up.


BLITZER: We will get back to the breaking news on John Edwards, now admitting that he did, in fact, have an extramarital affair, going back to 2006. We're standing by for a formal statement from John Edwards. Once we get it, we will share it with you.

In the meantime, let's do some other important news.

Now that Osama bin Laden's former driver is convicted, he will be spending a lot more time at the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, at least five-and-a-half to six months, based on previous time already served.

Our senior Pentagon correspondent covered that trial. He's just back from Guantanamo Bay. He's joining us now with more.

You had a chance, Jamie, to go there and to take a look, as much as the U.S. military would let you take a look, at what the conditions there are for these detainees.


And, you know, any time you get that peek behind the wire, it's always an eye-opener.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): From the air, Guantanamo looks like any Caribbean island, but this 45-square-mile tip of eastern Cuba is firmly under U.S. control, as it has been for more than a century. (on camera): There are some charter planes that fly to Guantanamo, but no commercial flights. The main way in is by military air. I'm sitting in the cockpit of a KC-10 refueling plane on final approach to Gitmo.

(voice-over): These U.S. Air Force pilots are making one of the regular runs to the U.S. Naval base, carrying defense attorneys and prosecutors to see the 80 or so detainees who face trial.

The airport is on one side of the bay, and, on the other, a 15- minute ferry ride away, is the base and the infamous prison.

(on camera): This is a view very few people get to see. We are inside Camp 4 of Camp Delta inside Guantanamo Bay. These are where the detainees who are the most compliant are kept. They have the most freedom here. They have 12 hours of recreation a day. They have two hours when they can commingle.

They also have things like movie night, where they can watch movies that are selected by the U.S. military, things that are appropriate. I'm told the Discovery Channel is big here.

I can see a lot more here than I can actually show you, because the restrictions on videotaping and photographing are extremely tight. There are all kinds of things we can't show you. Can't show you any locks. We can't show any faces of the detainees. We can't show any faces of the -- the personnel who work here.

We can't show any guard towers, because they may or may not be occupied, and they don't want to give away what their procedures are.

(voice-over): In fact, this is one of the few shots of barbed wire we were authorized to videotape. The fact is, barbed wire is everyone on the base, but you didn't see it in the background of any of our live reports from Guantanamo, because a military minder was standing right next to us to make sure we cropped the security fences out of our shots.

There are, however, no restrictions on photographing iguanas, which are as ubiquitous in Guantanamo as the barbed wire. Just don't feed them, or you could end up on the wrong side of the fence.


MCINTYRE: And, Wolf, seriously, the impression that you get when you're there is really the isolation that's felt by these detainees. The U.S. military keeps all information from them. They have no idea what's going on in the outside world. They don't know who their jailers are. And they have no idea when they're going to get out.

And you can see how, over time, that could be something that could be really soul-crushing -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, there was a lot of criticism early on about the facilities at Guantanamo Bay from various human rights organizations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Committee for the Red Cross.

Is it your sense, Jamie, that things obviously improved for these detainees -- detainees over the years, that it was -- it was considerably worse going back several years?

MCINTYRE: Well, you know, again, the physical facilities have improved, the -- what they have in the cells, the kind of recreation they have.

But, again, it's the psychological impact of really not having any idea of when you're going to get out, having very little contact with the outside world, that is -- that's the real burden of being in Guantanamo.

BLITZER: All right, Jamie, thanks very much for the report.

Barack Obama's relationship with Hillary and Bill Clinton is still a work in progress. The latest effort to keep them happy, sources say Bill Clinton will in fact speak on that Wednesday night of the Democratic Convention, the night after Hillary Clinton is expected to address the delegates as well.

The Obama camp is having some mixed success so far with its outreach to Senator Clinton, perhaps more importantly, her supporters.

Let's go to Jessica Yellin. She's working this story for us -- Jessica.

YELLIN: Wolf, Senator Clinton is out in Las Vegas today, campaigning for Senator Obama to be president. It appears that she's willing to bury the hatchet, but some of her supporters, not quite so ready.


CROWD: Hillary! Hillary!

H. CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you all.

YELLIN (voice-over): Senator Clinton campaigning for Barack Obama in Las Vegas.

H. CLINTON: He represents the unity that we will have as we move toward victory in November and elect Senator Barack Obama the next president of the United States!


YELLIN: Before leaving for Hawaii, Obama insisted, there's peace between the Democratic Party's top stars.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She is very enthusiastic about the need for a unified party. I think we're going to have a terrific convention.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want Hillary! YELLIN: Not if some of Clinton's most ardent supporters have their way.


YELLIN: Some Hillary holdouts, still active through Web sites like this one, say they won't vote for Obama at the convention. And a few are even developing a documentary arguing that the primary was stolen. This trailer is on YouTube.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The people from the Obama group were on the telephone taking down names and addresses.


YELLIN: These vocal Hillary devotees could pose problems for the party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they absolutely matter, in terms of the spirit of the convention. I have heard some Republicans talk about being heartened by the fact that there's still this impression the Democratic Party isn't united.

YELLIN: But a recent poll by the Pew Research Center shows, Obama has actually gained support among Clinton's backers, 72 percent in late July, up 13 points since May.

Still, 17 percent of Clinton supporters say they plan to vote for McCain, and 10 percent remain undecided. Obama and the DNC have tried to appease these critics with convention speaking roles for both Clintons and by inserting in the proposed party platform a message that says, "We believe standing up for our country means standing up against sexism."

It is unclear how significant Clinton holdouts' influence will be come November.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know that any one demographic could single-handedly sink or win this election for anybody else. I do think it's one of the danger spots for Obama in this election, in states in particular like a Florida.


YELLIN: Now, Wolf, the Obama campaign insists that they are not troubled by these Clinton holdouts. They say their influence is dramatically overplayed by us, by the media. You can be sure, though, these Clinton folks will get a lot of attention at the convention.

BLITZER: I'm sure they will.

All right, Jessica, stand by. We have got a lot more to work on.

We're also continuing to monitor the breaking news on John Edwards. ABC News is now reporting he has admitted to them having an affair. We're waiting for a formal statement from John Edwards. That's supposed to come out fairly soon.

Also coming up, we're going to hear from the tabloid reporter who actually broke the story. Our Drew Griffin is working this part of the story for us -- much more to come right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: On our "Political Ticker" today: It may seem impossible to calculate the value of Oprah Winfrey's endorsement of Barack Obama, but a couple of economists from the University of Maryland say they have actually figured it out.

"The Wall Street Journal" reports, the economists examined all sorts of factors, including Winfrey's magazine subscriptions in different geographic areas. Their bottom line is this. They contend, Winfrey's endorsement added about one million votes to Obama's column in the primary.

Remember, for the latest political news any time, you can always check out That's where you can also download our new political screen saver.

Let's go back to Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Nice quiet Friday in August, right?

BLITZER: I know. It's never -- never quiet in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Did I mention to you, Jack, that today's our third anniversary of THE SITUATION ROOM?


BLITZER: Three years.


BLITZER: You and I and our entire team, we started exactly three years ago. And today's our third anniversary.

CAFFERTY: It seems much longer than that, doesn't it?


BLITZER: It does.


CAFFERTY: The -- yes, it does -- the question this hour, is this the right time for Barack Obama to take a vacation? He and his family are off to Hawaii for a week to his visit his grandmother. Ray in Maryland writes: "Of course, yes. He did more in his one- week trip overseas than Bush did for eight years or McCain in all of his years in the Senate. So, after the long primary season and with the convention and the selection of a vice president ahead, I think he needs it."

Kyle in Tennessee says: "I would rather Obama take a vacation now than after he's in the Oval Office. We've had enough of a president who enjoys downtime at the ranch. Get a nice rest in now. Be prepared to lead our country out of the messes we're in."

Gloria says: "It has been a long campaign. Obama deserves some time with his family. Now, if we could get McCain to take one, maybe we would all get some much needed relief."

Bill writes: "No, it's not a good time at all for a vacation. With John McCain creeping up in the polls every day, now is the time when Obama needs to be campaigning and making his points clear. If he wants to win the election, wait a few more months for Hawaii."

Kristin in Seattle says: "As a grandmother myself, I think Obama is doing just the right thing to take some time off, visit with his grandma, have some family time, and rest up for what will be the challenges ahead. He makes three to five campaign stops a day. McCain does one, and doesn't campaign on the weekends."

Frank writes: "Come on, Jack. Everybody needs a vacation. The timing is never perfect. You just have to get up and go. I haven't taken a vacation in over three years. And it shows. My wife and my kids hate me."


CAFFERTY: And Michele in Dallas says: "Why not? Isn't the rest of the Senate on vacation, except John McCain?" -- which is true.

If you didn't see my e-mail here, you can go to my blog,

If you have any thoughts on this John Edwards thing, you can go there and weigh in. We are going to do a question about it in the next hour of THE SITUATION ROOM.

Go to and vent your thoughts on the John Edwards admission that he's been having an extramarital affair, a story that's been around for almost a year, and he finally copped to it in an interview with ABC News. We will be doing a little more right after the top of the hour -- back to you, Mr. Blitzer.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Jack.