Democrats Shrug Off Edwards' Affair, Paternity Questions

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While many questions remain unanswered regarding John Edwards' affair with a woman he hired to produce videos of him, some Democrats are already writing off the impact of the news.

Edwards, who admitted on Friday that he had an affair with Reille Hunter after meeting her in a New York bar, insists he is not the father of Hunter's baby, Frances Quinn. A former Edwards staffer, Andrew Young, took responsibility for the child though no name for the father appears on the birth certificate.

The Edwards-Hunter affair was busted open by tabloid reports two weeks ago after Edwards was caught visiting Hunter and the baby at the Beverly Hilton hotel.

A hotel security guard confirmed to that he had helped Edwards leave the property after he barricaded himself in a bathroom to elude reporters who had been chasing him at 2:40 in the morning.

Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, who still backed her husband's presidential bid after announcing in March 2007 that her breast cancer had returned, have canceled plans to attend the Democratic convention in Denver on Aug. 25-28.

But Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, a strong supporter of presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, said he didn't know whether Edwards' shot at getting a slot in an Obama administration has been dashed by the revelations.

"I have no idea. I've not spoken to him about that. As you're aware, I'm sure, Senator Edwards announced through one of his staffers he would not be attending the convention in Denver," Durbin said on "FOX News Sunday."

Durbin said this type of news is no longer difficult for Washington to swallow.

"Let's be very honest. There's weakness when it comes to both political parties. ... I feel very badly for John and Elizabeth, who are friends. I know them and I know their families. They're going through a very difficult time. I hope they can resolve this between them," Durbin said.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who also was a presidential candidate this year, said he was not going to "pile on" to Edwards.

"Obviously, he let a lot of people down. I feel for Elizabeth. But, you know, the public is forgiving. Obviously, this is something between himself and his family and voters. You know, I feel for that family. I still believe that John Edwards is committed to reducing poverty. I think his concern in the campaign was genuine," he told ABC's "This Week."

"This is a difficult period. You know, but I'm just not going to be one of those that pile on,' Richardson continued.

Edwards said he hired Hunter before ever having an affair with her, but doubt is being cast on that claim. According to Sunday's New York Post, Hunter was e-mailing pals in April 2006 about visiting her married boyfriend "down South." The Post also reports that sources say the two met at a bar in late 2005 or early 2006.

Hunter's company, Midline Groove Productions, was first paid to produce the videos for Edwards' One America Committee PAC in July 2006, months after she was e-mailing friends about him.

Edwards said he told his wife everything about the affair after it ended in 2006. He described her as "furious" but able to forgive him. Still, Hunter was photographed with Edwards on Dec. 29 2006. The final payment to Midline Groove was made on April 1, 2007.

National Review writer Byron York said the fallout from Edwards' affair may not hurt Obama, but it leaves Edwards' future in doubt.

"Barack Obama has such a squeaky-clean family image. But it's not over. I don't think anybody in political circles, including Democrats, believes ... Edwards' claim that he is not the father of this child," York told "FOX News Sunday".

"And then you — additionally, you have the money angle, which is Fred Baron, big trial lawyer, big supporter of John Edwards, paying millions of dollars to relocate Rielle Hunter and Andrew Young and his family, the man who has claimed paternity for the child, to California, supposedly just out of the goodness of his heart and without telling John Edwards," he said.

Washington Post reporter Ruth Marcus said the impact on Democrats overall has been limited by the decision by John and Elizabeth Edwards to stay out of Denver.

"It's not good to be talking — especially when we're going to see a certain former president speaking at the convention, to be reminding people of people's marital missteps. On the other hand ... sexual misconduct and adultery is something of a bipartisan failing in Washington and elsewhere. So I think it's not great for Democrats, but not terrible," she said.