Paula Broadwell, trying to get back to life before the headlines, has apologized for her affair with David H. Petraeus, which led to his resignation as CIA director.
In her first in-depth interview, with ABC News affiliate WSOC in Charlotte, Broadwell said, “I have remorse for the harm that this has caused, the sadness this has caused in my family and other families.” She said, “I’m the first to admit I’ve made mistakes, and I’m regretful for the pain I’ve caused, but at some point again you pick yourself up face forward and keep moving.” She said she’s “not focused on the past.”
Broadwell, who wrote the biography “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus,” lives in Charlotte with her husband, a doctor, and their two young sons in an area where friends and neighbors supported her throughout the tabloid-ready story of last November that at one point had FBI investigators carrying computers and boxes from her home. The military veteran was also investigated for harassing e-mails sent to Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, whom she considered a rival for Petraeus’s affections.
When I reported the story in Charlotte, neighbors both on and off the record praised her family and wondered why she seemed to be getting most of the criticism. They just wanted the news trucks to stop clogging the street.
That has happened, though Broadwell will still get a second look as she goes about her life in Charlotte. In the WSOC interview, she seemed to want to return to her work supporting veterans and wounded warriors, which drew Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” as a guest at a fundraiser when he was in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention last September.
“I’m blessed with family, community. That’s been a great part of my rehabilitation … and wonderful organizations that realize that even if you’ve made mistakes in life you can still contribute and pick up, dust off and move on,” she said.
At the University of Southern California’s annual ROTC dinner in March, Petraeus, with his wife present, offered his own apology for the extramarital affair that “caused such pain for my family, friends and supporters.”
But with his role in drafting talking points about the attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi raising questions, as The Washington Post recently reported, and Broadwell’s interview a reminder of the scandal, the retired general has not been able to quietly move on to his own next chapter.
Mary C. Curtis, an award-winning multimedia journalist in Charlotte, N.C., has worked at The New York Times, Charlotte Observer and as national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter: @mcurtisnc3