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Edwards acknowledges difficult public image

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He has hardly been seen since. In October, he mourned the death of his close friend and biggest financial supporter, trial lawyer Fred Baron, the man who had paid to move Hunter and her baby to Santa Barbara. In December, after being contacted by anti-poverty groups, he helped deliver food and medication to Haiti. In the months following, he learned that federal agents were investigating whether his campaign had funneled money to Hunter, an allegation he denies.

Last month, his wife Elizabeth went on a media tour for her new memoir. She told Oprah Winfrey that she had "no idea" if her husband was the father of Hunter's baby girl, despite his earlier avowal that he was not. Asked if she still loved her husband, Elizabeth Edwards said, "It's complicated."

John Edwards left the country for much of the book tour. He was in El Salvador, helping a group called Homes from the Heart with its work building houses and clinics and distributing sewing machines. The group's director, Michael Bonderer, was surprised when Edwards accepted his invitation.

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