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Edwards to emerge from seclusion for speech

In a return to the public stage, John Edwards has confirmed plans to talk politics a month after admitting to an extramarital affair. But his wife won't be at his side.
/ Source: The Associated Press

In a return to the public stage, John Edwards has confirmed plans to talk politics a month after admitting to an extramarital affair. But his wife won't be at his side.

A representative for the former Democratic presidential candidate confirmed Friday that he would speak alone at Hofstra University in New York on Sept. 8, school spokesman Stuart Vincent said. It was initially billed as a joint appearance to talk about the 2008 election, but Vincent said Elizabeth Edwards would not attend.

Dennis Goldford, a professor of politics at Drake University, said the rapid return to the stump could make it difficult for Edwards to overcome the anger of his former supporters. Edwards went into seclusion last month after spending the better part of the past six years on the trail — running for president twice, serving on the Democratic presidential ticket in 2004 and pushing to shrink the gap between rich and poor.

"I don't think the dust has settled sufficiently," Goldford said. "You're going to see a lot of people who are extremely skeptical. It would seem that you would need a little more time."

A spokeswoman and an agent for John and Elizabeth Edwards did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Edwards hasn't spoken publicly since his Aug. 8 admission to the affair, and no other speaking engagements before the Hofstra speech have been announced. In a statement issued the day of the interview, Edwards said he had made a "a serious error in judgment and conducted myself in a way that was disloyal to my family and to my core beliefs."

Won't speak about affair
Edwards added that he did not plan to speak about the affair again. Both he and Elizabeth have since declined requests for an interview, and neither appeared this week at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

David "Mudcat" Saunders, a friend and former adviser to Edwards, said the decision to return is one that should be left up to Edwards.

"He knows what's best for himself right now," Saunders said. "Nobody else knows."

The Edwardses are still scheduled to appear together Sept. 23 at Salem State College in Massachusetts, college spokesman Jim Glynn said Friday. Edwards also has plans to speak at the University of Illinois in October. Christine Messina-Boyer, director of women's health at Cooper University Hospital, also said an agent for Elizabeth Edwards recently confirmed she would appear there at the end of September.

Edwards' populist themes, which he carried from his first presidential bid in 2004 to this year's campaign, led him to a second place finish in the Iowa caucuses. But he never finished better than third after Iowa, and dropped out of the presidential race before the Super Tuesday primaries.

The former North Carolina senator was pushing his poverty message in 2006 when he hired rookie videographer Rielle Hunter to shoot videos of him on the stump. Edwards said the affair with Hunter began and ended that year, although Hunter was seen on the campaign trail up until the final days of 2006.

Both Edwards and Hunter have denied reports that he is the father of her six-month daughter.