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Edwards' aide cites wife anger

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Elizabeth Edwards angrily confronted a key presidential campaign donor who provided financial help to her husband's pregnant mistress in 2007, John Edwards' former spokeswoman testified Wednesday.

Jennifer Palmieri said Edwards called her to a Davenport, Iowa, hotel room to help calm Elizabeth Edwards while she was arguing with campaign finance chairman Fred Baron and his wife, Lisa Blue, about the couple's financial support for Rielle Hunter.

Palmieri, now the deputy communications director for President Obama, broke down in tears while discussing her friendship with Elizabeth Edwards, who was battling fatal cancer.

Palmieri also testified that she distanced herself from the former Democratic presidential candidate after he acknowledged the affair with Hunter in an August 2008 television interview but wasn't truthful about their baby.

Palmieri said Blue admitted to Elizabeth Edwards that she had flown Hunter to Los Angeles for a shopping trip during the argument in October 2007.

"You've got to hold your friends close and your enemies closer," Palmieri quoted Blue as telling the enraged wife. Blue added that Hunter was a "loose cannon" who could have exposed the affair to the media, Palmieri said.

At the time, a tabloid was publishing an article about the affair, and Palmieri said the campaign was absorbed with keeping the story from moving into the mainstream media. Edwards had told his wife that he had a brief fling with Hunter but that he had ended the affair many months earlier, according to earlier testimony.

In fact, Edwards had continued the affair, and Hunter was then pregnant with his child. A close aide to Edwards, Andrew Young, had rented the mistress a home a few miles away from the Edwards family estate in Chapel Hill. The candidate had kept the arrangement secret from his wife.

Palmieri said Elizabeth Edwards couldn't comprehend why Baron and Blue would have any contact with Hunter.

How much Edwards knew about the money spent on Hunter to cover up his affair is a critical question at his trial.

Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six counts of campaign finance violations related to about $1 million in secret payments from Baron and 101-year-old heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon.

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