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John Edwards tells why he went to the Beverly Hilton

August 8, 2008 | 10:01 pm

In light of John Edwards' record of lying in public with his previous denials of an extramarital affair, it was natural that when word surfaced Friday of his admission of a relationship with Rielle Hunter, skepticism greeted his assertion that it had lasted only for a short period in 2006.

Indeed, one big question clouded that claim -- if that was the case, why had he met with Hunter late last month at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills (only to be surprised by a National Enquirer stakeout)?

In the exclusive interview that aired Friday evening on ABC's "Nightline," Edwards said there was "a very simple reason" for the get-together: he still wanted to make sure his indiscretion remained a secret.

Former Democratic senator and vice presidential nominee John Edwards at a public event in Los Angeles with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa during his recent trip to the city

"I was trying to keep this mistake that I had made from becoming public," the former Democratic presidential candidate told newsman Bob Woodruff.

Recalling that he had been in Los Angeles that day for an event with the city's mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa (himself a confessed adulterer), Edwards said that when a friend of Hunter's called and said she was at the hotel and wanted to meet with him, he initially declined.

But he eventually acceded to the request, he said on Nightline, because he was told Hunter "was having some trouble" and "she just wanted to talk."

Elaborating on his comment that his main goal was to keep a lid on their liaison, he added: "I wanted her not to tell the public what had happened. Very simple. That's the reason I went."

ABC News has posted a transcript of lengthy excerpts of the compelling interview.

Asked at the end of the session whether he expected his marriage to Elizabeth Edwards to survive, he said, "Oh yeah, oh yeah."

That would seem likely, based on s short comment Elizabeth Edwards issued Friday afternoon. The texts of her statement and her husband's are available here. Hers concluded: "Although John believes he should stand alone and take the consequences of his action now, when the door closes behind him, he has his family waiting for him."

-- Don Frederick