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September 21, 2009 03:30 PM

What’s up with John Edwards?

If you had him on Google Alert this weekend, your e-mail inbox would have been swamped after The New York Times published a story speculating about whether the two-time Democratic presidential candidate – who has already admitted to two-timing his wife of more than 30 years, Elizabeth Edwards – is ready to admit he fathered a child with a former campaign worker.

In August 2008, Edwards, after earlier denials, confirmed that he had an affair with Rielle Hunter, a videographer he met on his 2008 campaign. At the time, Edwards, now 56, denied fathering a child, saying the relationship ended before Hunter’s infant daughter was conceived.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Edwards, 60, is battling breast cancer, first diagnosed in 2004 and considered incurable.

Scandalous Details

Now, according to The Times, the disgraced North Carolina politician may be on the verge of acknowledging paternity of Hunter’s 19-month-old daughter, Frances – just as a once-trusted aide is preparing to publish a book filled with damaging revelations.

Among the details reportedly included in the book proposal written by former campaign worker Andrew Young – who once signed an affidavit stating Frances was his daughter, only to later rescind the claim – are several devastating bombshells:

• In his book proposal, Young says Edwards pleaded with him to claim paternity of Hunter’s daughter in an attempt to make the scandal go away, according to the newspaper.

• Young claims Edwards told Hunter that he would marry her after Elizabeth’s death – at a roof-top ceremony at a New York City hotel with live music from the Dave Matthews Band.

• Young claims that he set up meetings between Hunter and Edwards so they could keep their relationship a secret.

DNA Test?

The Times own correspondent further fleshed out the drama, alleging that Edwards is now ready to fess up, but that his wife has delayed an announcement, and that Hunter’s daughter’s middle name, Quinn (similar to the Latin prefix for ‘five’) was chosen because the girl is Edwards’ fifth child. (John and Elizabeth’s oldest child, their son Wade, died in a car crash in 1996.)

After the National Enquirer and North Carolina TV station WRAL reported last month that Edwards was ready to admit paternity, Elizabeth Edwards said on CNN that she hoped any DNA test and its results would be kept private. “I hope for the sake of this child that it happens, you know, in a quiet way,” she told Larry King.

Wade Smith, a Raleigh lawyer who represents Edwards, did not return PEOPLE’s calls, but earlier issued a statement about the paternity rumors: “There may be a statement on that subject at some point, but there is no timetable and we will see how we feel about it as events unfold.”

In the meantime, Elizabeth and John Edwards continue to live together in their Chapel Hill, N.C., home and are frequently seen around town running errands together or shuttling their two youngest children to school. A grand jury has been convened to investigate whether the Edwards campaign made unlawful payments to Hunter.

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