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ABC NEWS EXCLUSIVE: Rielle Hunter on Edwards' affair: 'I believed I could help him'

READ MORE: ABC NEWS EXCLUSIVE: Rielle Hunter on Edwards' affair: 'I believed I could help him'
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NEW YORK (ABC NEWS) -- Why did Rielle Hunter accept an invitation from John Edwards, a married man, to join him in his hotel room one fateful day in 2006?

"I went there because I believed I could help him," Hunter told "20/20's" Chris Cuomo in an exclusive interview.

Hunter reveals the details of her first meeting with the then-presidential candidate and the six-year affair that became the biggest political sex scandal of a generation in her bombshell tell-all, "What Really Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter, and Me," to be published June 26. Hunter recently sat down with Chris Cuomo for her first interview since Edwards' acquittal on charges of accepting illegal campaign contributions.

VIDEO: Rielle Hunter: Elizabeth Edwards 'Not a Saint'

In the book, Hunter writes that, as a budding spiritual advisor, she believed she could help him merge his public persona -- which she said appeared shallow and aloof -- with his deeper private persona, so that he could present himself more authentically.

The story of their love and scandal began with that hotel encounter.

"He rounded the street corner and it came out of my mouth: 'You're so hot,'" Hunter recalled.

Hunter is well aware that others might take her desire to "help" to mean something else.

"From the outside world looking in, (it's) like, 'Boy, did you sure help him,'" she told Cuomo.

Eventually, Hunter said, Edwards persuaded her to come sit with him on the hotel room bed.

SLIDESHOW: John Edwards, Rielle Hunter and their daughter

"Something happened internally with me. I responded... I have not experienced it or felt what was happening before. Ever. An intensity like a rock concert. A lot of energy," she told Cuomo.

That energy was strong enough that the man who would soon be a candidate for president of the United States risked it all to be with her.

"We could not get enough of each other on the telephone," Hunter said. "If we were not together, we would be talking on the phone about four hours every night. We couldn't hang up."

Any doubts she had about sleeping with a married man were helped, she said, by his insistence that his storybook marriage with Elizabeth Edwards was just that -- a story.

"Their marriage was ruined before I got there. Years before I got there," Hunter said. She said Edwards told her he had had other mistresses -- that she was not the first.

To the public, meanwhile, Edwards presented an entirely different appearance.

"I was disgusted with myself for being in love with a man who was going on national TV with his wife -- and lying," Hunter said.

While Edwards was hot on the campaign trail, Hunter discovered that she was pregnant. Hunter said Edwards had a "gracious" reaction when she told him the news, saying he would support her and that he wouldn't tell her what to do.

"I think he thought the timing was terrible," she said, but Edwards was "kinder and more gentle than I thought he would be."

Hunter called the February 2008 birth of their daughter Quinn, now 4, "difficult and incredible."

"It's like the polar opposites of the pain and agony and oh my God, how difficult it is. But the blessing that comes out of that (is) amazing," she said.

But amid her amazement, Hunter was also devastated by Edwards' initial denial that he was Quinn's father. In an interview with ABC News' Bob Woodruff on Nightline in August 2008, he insisted that he was not Quinn's father. Still, Hunter said she understands why Edwards lied.

"What it meant, though, to me, is that he was temporarily insane. I mean, he had really gone off the deep end a bit there," she said, "but it was painful to witness."

Hunter said at one point she was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement requiring her to keep the identity of Quinn's father secret from everyone except Quinn. She refused.

"I didn't want my daughter growing up under a lie," she said.

The most controversial part of the book, however, may be what Hunter writes about Elizabeth Edwards. She was critical of how Elizabeth Edwards handled her own relationship with John Edwards and how she reacted to her husband's affair with Hunter. She said that Elizabeth Edwards used her cancer and her children as weapons in a war against a father trying to take care of his daughter.

But Hunter also maintained that she had "no desire to bash" Elizabeth Edwards.

"I have a great deal of compassion and empathy for her suffering. And I have no desire to bash Elizabeth. Elizabeth is the mother to my daughter's siblings. And she is, indirectly, now my family," she said.

Elizabeth Edwards died in 2010.

"What do you think the reaction is when the woman who's sleeping with the husband starts talking about the wife who is now dead from cancer?" Cuomo asked.

"There're a lot of people that'll go, 'Wow, I understand. I get it,'" Hunter said. "And then a lot of people will be outraged."

"I feel for both my daughter and for all the kids involved, the full truth needs to be in the public domain," she said. "Their father's not a demon and their mother's not a saint. And I'm not a home wrecker. We're real human beings. And there is a real dynamic that was going on, good and bad. And we all made mistakes."

Hunter said she has regrets about the affair, but the one thing she doesn't regret is having Quinn. She calls the little girl the love of her life.

Watch the full story on "20/20" tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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A budding spiritual advisor?

HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

I'm sure that there you are completely qualified to give advice in certain areas, most of which usually take place in a bedroom, hotel room, or back seat of a car.

My money says that spiritualism isn't one of them.

How long before we see you in Penthouse or Hustler?

What?!!

What?!!! I didn't see the interview, and don't want to. This woman is out to sell her book, and anyone with any taste at all, won't pay a penny for it. Let's not give her the publicity she is seeking.

She is trying to justify what she did - which she can't. Yes, John Edwards is to blame - it took both of them - but have you noticed, other than the court appearances, you aren't seeing too much of him? Maybe some day down the road he will write a book - who knows.

In the meantime, to justify herself, she is going to slander Elizabeth, who is dead and can't defend herself. No marriage is perfect - there is always going to be something that causes problems - but a good majority of the husbands and wives don't go out and cheat - they work it out.

If you see this woman is going to be on a talk show, don't watch. Don't give her the time of day. I feel for the child growing up with such a mother who has such a low value of herself and who tries to excuse her inexcusable behavior.

This Rielle Hunter is just

This Rielle Hunter is just an awful person. John Edwards and Rielle Hunter were meant for one another. They are two of the most sleazzy individuals on this earth. How could she say she loves not only her child but his children as well? How could you be on TV and say that his children should know that their dead Mother was not a saint. How could she let her daughter whom she says she loves let it be known to her that her Father John Edwards denied he was her Father? This is not love for Children these are the most hateful things to
broadcast on National TV she is one sick person.

The only people who could

The only people who could agree with or understand this idiot would be some nut job who is just as delusional as she is. She's lucky she was trying to steal the husband of a dying woman, otherwise Elizabeth might have mopped the floor up with her. Isn't it funny how adult and mature and educated these people are, none of them bother with birth control knowing what is at stake? She did do the American people one favor though. She showed us any ho in a miniskirt could probably destroy the country if Edwards was President and the right people knew it.

rielle hunter

She is on the hunt again because John Edwards do not want her.
Chris is a very good looking man and he may have money - so o o o
she will try to smooze up to him. Mrs. Cuomo better watch out.
If you notice she wore pants with the other interviews she gave. What does that say.

How do you go on tv and act

How do you go on tv and act like you care about anything or anybody? Have you been evaluated? You seem so unstable. There are plenty of women who can't have children and the unselfish thing to do would have been to let someone adopt that child with morals and values. Thats what's wrong with the world today. People like you are a disgrace. You want your kid to know the truth? I'm sure she will know the biggest truth of all. Her mom is a slut with no morals and values and has no idea what a family is all about. Just hope she don't turn out the trash you are or feel the pain of being married and treated like Elizabeth. You weren't important enough to leave his wife and you will never be. Go get knocked up by someone else.

What do they call a woman

What do they call a woman that is paid for sex? That's right Rielle, you are one.

"I'm not a home-wrecker",

"I'm not a home-wrecker", I'm just a ho.

Whenever a spouse strays,

Whenever a spouse strays, there is a reason. Who knows what went on in their private lives? As I understand it, Elizabeth Edwards was not a pleasant person sometimes. Of course, she has always been portrayed as the innocent victim. There are 2 sides to every story. So, that being said, unless you knew them personally, maybe Ms. Hunter replaced something missing in his life.

Whenever a spouse strays...

...it is indicative of weak character, selfishness, and a total lack of discipline.

If you're not happy in your marriage, get out, but until you do, stick to your word.

Regardless of what Elizabeth

Regardless of what Elizabeth Edwards was or wasn't, the woman still had sex with a married man. You are right about one thing, there are two sides to every story in this woman was only getting one side.

A blind misguided..

supporter speaks! Laughable. Pond scum...both of them and your attempts to make more excuses for them is just sad.

She is still trash.

She was trash then and is trash now. Notice the short dress on national news for all to see?

I could of not said it

I could of not said it better, you are right on with trash then and now. I also think he is trash as well.

Yep, real human beings alright...

...just real human beings without morals, common decency, self control, respect for others and raging hormones. A narcissistic ambulance chasing lawyer is what it is and a slut is a slut. Bottom line. They can "butter it up" and attempt to make it whatever they want. It's their lie, they can tell it however they want to.

Isn't it funny how people attempt to justify and condone behavior that is better suited for root sloppin' pigs and dogs in heat?

And these "humans"..

fully deserve each other!

I will also offer that edwards is every bit the slut she is. What is more sickening is that she will profit from it and edwards will continue to be a narcissistic "slutty" ambulance chasing lawyer. Hopefully with the trial over and the book out their time in the limelight is over. One can only hope.....

He is a politician.

Anybody who has an ego bigger than the moon can become one. His wife was on her death bed. The young woman was a welcome distraction.

She knew that and played the middle-age-fool for what he was. The really sad part of all this is some of us bought into his BS.

I, for one voted for him. He grew up on "Mill Hill". Made a lot of money suing scumbags. Reminded me of my humble youth.

Just goes to show you: Scum is scum, no matter where they grew up.