WASHINGTON — Only 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 in his administration.
On Wednesday, the former U.S. senator, presidential candidate and 2004 vice-presidential nominee refused to answer questions that took a tabloid turn.
About a dozen reporters and photojournalists attended a speech Edwards gave to an AARP Foundation symposium on poverty and aging in Washington.
Afterward, he avoided a crowd of waiting reporters, at least some of whom wanted to question him about recent reports in the National Enquirer that alleged a sexual relationship between Edwards and a former campaign videographer and an ensuing coverup.
Citing unnamed sources, the Enquirer published a story in October claiming that Edwards was having an affair with a woman who had filmed a series of campaign videos, and that he had gotten her pregnant.
Last week, the Enquirer posted a story online claiming that Edwards had visited the woman, Rielle Hunter, and the child July 21 at a Beverly Hills hotel.
In October, the woman posted an online statement denying the first story.
In December, a male campaign worker for Edwards, Andrew Young, claimed paternity of the woman's then-unborn child.
On Wednesday, Edwards apparently exited through a side area used by the kitchen staff at Washington's historic Hotel Monaco.
Edwards emerged near the rear of the hotel with two men. When approached by a reporter, Edwards said, “Can't do it now, I'm sorry” and quickly walked past.
Asked about the Beverly Hilton last week, Edwards said "sorry” and got into a waiting car with the other men. Asked twice more to address the Enquirer story, Edwards was silent until the car doors were closed.
The Enquirer described in its story its reporters' attempts to chase down Edwards that night. The tabloid reported Edwards ran and hid in a restroom to elude them.
The story has prompted buzz in the blogosphere and become fodder for jokes by late-night hosts Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien, raising questions about his prospects for a spot in an Obama administration.
But Edwards has said little about the allegations. At a July 23 speech in Houston, Edwards responded to a reporter's question about the Enquirer story by referring to it as "tabloid trash."