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Elizabeth Edwards Sits For First TV Interview Since Split From Husband

Elizabeth Edwards tells "Today's" Matt Lauer that she has found peace, and she is "not just a cuckolded wife." The interview is Edwards first television interview since separating from her husband, former two-time Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. Excerpts from the interview follow. If used, mandatory credit NBC News' "Today" show, with airdate. Photos from the interview are available on nbcumv.com or by emailing MEGAN.KOPF@NBCUNI.COM. The interview, a morning show exclusive, will air on "Today," Wednesday, June 30.

Jim Bell is the executive producer of "Today" (Mon.-Fri., 7-11 a.m. ET).

Matt Lauer:
What questions have you been forced to ask yourself about the last two, three, four, five, ten years of your marriage?

Elizabeth Edwards:
You know, did I waste my time in these years? Have I thrown this part of my life away, in a sense? And I decided that I didn't. That maybe I didn't get the same things out of it I expected to, or that I thought I was at the time. But when I look back, there's really lots of blessings that I've had. I've had the opportunity, you know, to have these great children. I've had wonderful friends. I've had experiences that, you know, really couldn't be replaced. And opportunities to talk about things that mattered to me.

Matt Lauer:
When the story of John's affair first came to light, you were told by John, and correct me if I'm wrong, that this was basically a one-night stand.


Elizabeth Edwards:
It was. I-- I thought that throughout the campaign. I thought that for much longer than most people would have thought reasonable. But I believed it.

Matt Lauer:
When I watched Rielle Hunter on Oprah Winfrey, you know what I kept thinking?

Elizabeth Edwards:
What's that?

Matt Lauer:
I wonder if Elizabeth is watching this.

Elizabeth Edwards:
I actually watched it later. I didn't watch it then. And I-- and I didn't watch the whole thing. But I did watch some of it. And it's impossible not to-- I'm...

Matt Lauer:
Curiosity alone.

Elizabeth Edwards:
Curiosity. And also, I-- you know, I know I'm going to get asked questions about it. And at first, I didn't watch it. And then I thought, "Well, that's silly."

Matt Lauer:
What did you think?

Elizabeth Edwards:
I still think this person is so completely unlike me that it's hard to imagine the same person could marry me and be attracted to that-- to that woman, as well.

Matt Lauer:
I remember the last time you and I sat down, you said to me something that caught my attention. You said, "Despite this big horrible thing that happened, I still look back and think I married a marvelous man." And that was before you knew the whole truth. Do you still feel that way?

Elizabeth Edwards:
Well-- I think-- I think I did marry a marvelous man. I think that-- that he changed over time. And-- and it could not be more clear to me then. You know, I think it was sort of hard for me to see it or admit it for a very long time. But he changed. Maybe we all change over time. And-- and he's no longer the person who I married. I still admire an enormous number of things about him. The things he cares about are things I think are important.

Matt Lauer:
You write in the book that you would love eight more years.

Elizabeth Edwards:
I would.

Matt Lauer:
That you would like to be there for Emma Claire and Jack in the same way you were there for Wade when he was alive and Cate, when she was at that age. What are your biggest fears about the potential of not being there?

Elizabeth Edwards:
I-- I just-- I don't let my head go that place. I think that you really have to-- you know, you just have to keep what you want in view always. And what I want is this. And if I start thinking about, "Well, what if it's not?" Then I might make the wrong-- I hope I would make the right decisions, but I'm not positive I would. I think there might be a panic, because you think you're getting close to the end. I want to live at a normal cadence with my children.

Matt Lauer:
And you end the book this way. Quote, "In the end, there is peace. If we are strong. If we are resilient. If we are stubborn and filled with hope. If we know how to love. There is peace before that, too. And honestly, that is enough." So, at this moment have you found some portion of peace in your life?

Elizabeth Edwards:
I have, I mean, I really feel I have. I still really feel I need to break free of the media imposed image. I'm not just a cuckolded wife. You know, I think about it because so many stories have been in the news recently. But I think about Sandra Bullock-- who I don't know at all-- what an incredible year she's had. She won the Academy Award for an incredible performance, and more than that, she took that story and integrated that into her own life in this healthy happy way. And yet, the stories you hear are not about all those great successes, but about the failure of her marriage. And I thought that's not who she is, and in a sense I know she, I don't know her, but I assume she wants to reclaim who she is in the same way I want to reclaim who I am. I hope the next time I am on television it's to talk about some policy I really care about.


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