WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ex-presidential candidate John Edwards admitted on Thursday that he fathered a child with his former mistress, Rielle Hunter, while campaigning for the Democratic Party's White House nomination.
The former U.S. senator from North Carolina, who was among early front-runners in the Democratic field in the race eventually won by Barack Obama in 2008, acknowledged 2-year-old Frances Quinn Hunter as his daughter in a statement to U.S. media.
Edwards, who had previously denied he was the father, made the admission less than two weeks before the launch of a former aide's book that was expected to name Edwards as the father.
"I am Quinn's father. I will do everything in my power to provide her with the love and support she deserves," Edwards said in the statement reported by U.S. television networks.
"It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter, and hopefully one day, when she understands, she will forgive me," Edwards said.
As the Democratic presidential race got under way, Edwards revealed that his wife, Elizabeth Edwards, had developed cancer for the second time in three years.
His personal and political fortunes changed after the tabloid newspaper National Enquirer began reporting on his affair with Hunter, a campaign videographer in 2007.
Edwards, a wealthy lawyer, at first denied having an affair with Hunter, acknowledging the liaison only after his presidential campaign had come to an end in 2008. The admission was widely seen as sinking his political career for good.
But he continued to deny that he was the father of Hunter's child.
"To all those I have disappointed and hurt, these words will never be enough, but I am truly sorry," Edwards said in his statement on Thursday.
"I will do everything in my power to provide her with the love and support she deserves," he said of his daughter. "I have been able to spend time with her during the past year and trust that future efforts to show her the love and affection she deserves can be done privately and in peace."
Media reports have said Edwards is facing a federal grand jury investigation into whether he misused campaign money in an attempt to keep Hunter and word of their affair quiet.
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Frances Kerry)