WASHINGTON - Three weeks ago, John Edwards fielded media questions on his chances of filling the vice-presidential slot on Democrat Barack Obama's ticket or a Cabinet position. But now his prospects for a spot are being questioned amid recent reports in the National Enquirer that have prompted buzz on the blogosphere.
The reports -- alleging Edwards fathered a child with a former campaign videographer -- have also become fodder for jokes by late-night hosts Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien.
On Wednesday, the former U.S. senator, presidential candidate and 2004 vice-presidential nominee refused to answer questions about the reports after giving a speech on poverty and aging at an AARP Foundation symposium at Washington's Hotel Monaco. Edwards exited through a side area used by kitchen staff, telling a reporter, "Can't do it now, I'm sorry," and quickly walked past.
He has said little about the allegations published by the Enquirer, citing unnamed sources, in October.
Last week, the Enquirer sparked a firestorm in the blogosphere after posting a story online claiming that Edwards had visited the woman, Rielle Hunter, 44, and the child July 21 at a Beverly Hills hotel, and then was confronted by its reporters as he was leaving in the middle of the night. The tabloid reported Edwards ran and hid in a restroom in the Beverly Hilton to elude reporters. It hasn't published any photos of the alleged encounter. Edwards has referred to the story as "tabloid trash."
Hunter has repeatedly denied the allegations. In October, she posted an online statement denying it. After a December story in the Enquirer claimed she was pregnant and living in a gated community in Chapel Hill, she again denied a connection. That story quoted her as saying, "The fact that I am expecting a child is my personal and private business. This has no relationship to nor does it involve John Edwards in any way. Andrew Young is the father of my unborn child."
Young also claimed he was the father in December in a statement from his lawyer on the blog mydd.com.
On Thursday, the Charlotte Observer obtained the birth certificate of the child, showing that Frances Quinn Hunter was born Feb. 27 at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, Calif., to Rielle Jaya James Druck, also known as Rielle Hunter.
Asked Thursday why no father was listed on the birth certificate, Hunter's attorney, Robert Gordon of New York, said, "A lot of women do that."
Reminded that he and Hunter had publicly revealed the father's identity, Gordon said, "That's a personal matter between them."
With unmarried couples, California law requires both parents to sign a "Declaration of Paternity" form prior to the father's name being put on the birth certificate. If the father is not present, his name may be added to the birth certificate at a later date after proper forms are obtained from the Department of Vital Records.