Rock Center   |  March 29, 2013

Cate Edwards on meeting Rielle Hunter

In an exclusive interview with Savannah Guthrie, Cate Edwards talks about her famous family and the legacy of her mother. She also discusses meeting Rielle Hunter, the one-time mistress of her father, John Edwards, and the mother of Cate’s half-sister.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> to watch what while john edwards ' aware became public and unraveled with his once-promising political career, she has not spoken at length about the experience, the whole ordeal, until now. she agreed to sit down with savannah guthrie .

>> reporter: to understand 31-year-old cate edwards ' life is to understand incredible highs and heart-wrenching lows. we watched her father's political star rise . before his devastating fall from grace over a cheating scandal, all while his wife elizabeth was battling cancer.

>> do you resent the fact that things that are so personal to your family have become so public?

>> sure. i mean, absolutely. we went through something really hard for any family. i mean, my mother taught me this more than anything. it's the people around you who sort of pick up and keep carrying you when you can't do it yourself.

>> reporter: cate edwards embodies that spirit of resilience. standing by her dad and honoring her mom with the elizabeth edwards foundation, to lift up underprivileged students with promise. a cause she hopes will reflect the best of the family name , after years of turmoil. it was 2007 . her dad, already a vice presidential candidate , was on his second run for presidency when elizabeth edwards first learned she had incurable cancer.

>> i have seen people in real desperate shape who don't, first of all, have the wonderful support that i have, and have no place to turn.

>> reporter: but as the world now knows, around that same time, john edwards was harboring a secret. an affair with a woman hired to bruise campaign videos, rielle hunter. have you ever meant her?

>> i did early on in the campaign.

>> reporter: i'm sure she's not someone you spend a great deal of time thinking about?

>> that's correct.

>> reporter: she wrote a book, said some unpleasant things about your mom. i am not going to repeat them. did that make you mad?

>> of course. i thought it was a poor choice i guess. that's all i can say.

>> reporter: edwards affair, splashed across the tabloids, made worse by his public denials. it all unraveled when he eventually admitted he had a child with hunter. what did you think when you found out what happened with your dad and this affair. did you find out about it from him?

>> yes. he told me. i was devastated, disappointed. these are my parents. i had grown up with a lot of love in my family and it was hard to see them go through this.

>> reporter: were there times when you didn't talk to your dad, where it was just difficult to have a relationship at all?

>> i don't think we ever went through that, no. i mean, we're a family of talkers, so we -- we try to talk through and get through things. there was a time i was angry with him, of course. but we worked through it.

>> reporter: but cate would have to see her father go through more scandal.

>> i did not break the law.

>> reporter: in 2011 , he was indicted for misusing campaign funds in an effort to hide his relationship with hunter. cate dropped everything to be there every day of the criminal trial .

>> i'm so proud to have had her with me, tlul of this process.

>> reporter: were there ever moments when you thought, you made your bed, lie in it?

>> i did not fault my bad for the trial. he made those mistakes, there is no question, but i had never, ever felt he did anything illegal. so i didn't think it was right.

>> reporter: was it hard to sit in the trial sometimes?

>> yeah, it was difficult for family to see this very private, very difficult part of our lives rehashed in front of everyone. but there was nowhere else i would have rather been at the time.

>> reporter: the federal jury found edwards not guilty on one charge and deadlocked on the others. do you think your dad will ever run for office again?

>> i doubt that, highly.

>> reporter: today, cate 's family includes jack and emma claire, and now a half sister , quinn. are you able to have any kind of relationship with quinn?

>> yeah, she's my sister and she's just a really sweet, innocent little girl , and, yeah, i certainly think of her as part of our family.

>> reporter: the family expanded again 17 months ago when cate married her princeton sweetheart, trevor upham. a wedding her mother didn't live to see. elizabeth edwards ' last moments were with cate and her estranged husband john at her bedside.

>> he there was at the end with her.

>> yes, he was. it was important for him to be there, and he called and said can i come, and i said, mom, can dad come, and she said yes. the throw of us, especially had been through so much together, so we have drawn a lot of strength from one another.

>> reporter: do you think your mom forgave him?

>> i think she did. i don't know the answer to that. i think she had a mix of emotions.

>> reporter: after her mom's passing, it was cate who gave the eulogy, remembering another painful loss. her brother wade, killed in a car accident when he was just 16.

>> one thing remains true and will never change, and that we're still a family and wade and mom are still a part of this family and always will be.

>> reporter: it's that dedication and loyalty that allowed her to forgive her dad.

>> i think it's easier to stay angry than it is to forgive someone. forgiveness is a tough thing. but, yes, it was hard. but we worked through it. i love my family, and i'm loyal to them and i care about them, and their pain is my pain.

>> reporter: today, cate is moving forward. she launched a law practice that advocates for the poor and working class . and continues to focusing on her mom's foundation, whose fellows program matches mentors with kids in need.

>> the goal is to provide someone with an elizabeth. mom really started this morning lab. she really was in all gas sets of her life, a great encourager, a great mentor and this really encapsulates who she was throughout her entire life. encouraging people to reach their full potential.

>> reporter: how do you process everything that's happened in this extraordinary life you have already had?

>> i have had a very happy life , despite the obstacles and the struggles. i try not to question things too much, because there is life going on.