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Ex-adviser says John Edwards was desperate to be a 2008 running mate

(CBS/AP) GREENSBORO, North Carolina - A former policy adviser to John Edwards testified Thursday about the former U.S. candidate's desperate attempts to be tapped as a running mate as his own campaign for the White House crumbled.

The adviser described how Edwards had lofty ambitions despite hiding a mistress who was pregnant with his child, a story that had caught the attention of advisers and the mainstream media.

Prosecutors are trying to show jurors that Edwards still had political aspirations after his campaign was suspended in January 2008. Prosecutors say Edwards masterminded a plan to use secret payments from two wealthy donors to hide his pregnant mistress during his campaign.

Defense attorneys have argued any money given after Edwards ended his campaign cannot be considered campaign funds. Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six counts alleging campaign finance violations. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

The economic policy adviser, Leo Hindery, said he was an intermediary between Edwards and former Sen. Tom Daschle, who was then with Barack Obama's presidential campaign. On the night Obama won the Iowa caucuses, Edwards asked Hindery to talk to Obama's camp.

"He asked me to reach out to the Obama campaign and make clear his availability on the ticket," Hindery said.

Daschle responded: "You really want me to do this now?" Hindery quoted him as saying.

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When Obama didn't accept Edwards with open arms, Edwards started talking to Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign, Hindery said.

Hindery is expected to be one of the last witnesses to testify for the prosecution before they rest their case Thursday. Prosecutors are not expected to call Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter, to the stand.

Earlier in the campaign corruption trial, adviser Tim Toben said he was astonished when Edwards told him in June 2008 he still had a desire to become Obama's running mate or fill his Cabinet.

"I was alarmed," Toben testified. "I couldn't believe a man with a 4-month-old baby with another woman would seriously consider running for vice president."

Later Thursday, as they prepared to rest their case against John Edwards, prosecutors showed the jury records on Thursday detailing the money spent to hide the former presidential candidate's mistress.

The evidence at Edwards' campaign corruption trial showed more than $319,500 in cash, luxury hotels, private jets and a $20,000-a-month rental mansion were used to keep Rielle Hunter away from the tabloid media as her paramour ran for the White House.

The bills, flashed up on a large screen for the jury, were all paid by Fred Baron, a wealthy Texas lawyer who served as Edwards' 2008 campaign finance chairman.

Baron began paying the expenses after tabloid reporters tracked down the pregnant mistress in Chapel Hill, where she had been secretly living in a house rented for her only a few miles from the Edwards family estate. Hunter was being watched over by a close aide to Edwards, Andrew Young, who falsely claimed paternity of boss' baby as the tabloid prepared to expose the affair.

As part of the cover-up, Baron paid for Hunter — and Young and his wife — to cross the country on private flights worth more than $80,000 and stay in waterfront hotel suites costing nearly $44,000, including bar tabs and frequent room service. Baron also leased a mansion in Santa Barbara, Calif., for the mistress as she prepared to give birth, with total costs over the next eight months totaling $184,378.

The costs were detailed as prosecutors planned to wrap up their case after 14 days of testimony from some of Edwards' closest friends and advisers. Prosecutors were not expected to call Edwards' mistress to the stand.

Edwards' defense team will begin presenting their case Monday and may call Hunter to testify. Edwards could also take the stand in his own defense.