IN a last-ditch bid to avoid prison, JOHN EDWARDS plans to wed mistress RIELLE HUNTER – and reunited with her and their love child in a dramatic meeting photographed exclusively by The ENQUIRER.

The disgraced politician popped the question after a terrifying heart scare led to his request to postpone his impending criminal trial, sources say, and Rielle eagerly agreed to marry him.

“The health scare and upcoming trial made John feel like he had noth­ing to live for,” divulged a source close to Edwards.

“John believed he was facing death, and that’s why he suddenly proposed to Rielle. He told her, ‘Life is too short. Let’s get married right away.’

Edwards’ illicit affair with Rielle, 47, and her pregnancy during the 2008 presidential campaign were exposed in a series of blockbuster ENQUIRER exclusives.

After vehement denials, the wom­anizing politician was finally forced to admit paternity of their now 3 1/2-year-old love child Frances Quinn before his wife Elizabeth lost her heroic battle with advanced breast cancer on Dec. 7, 2010.

The affair also sparked legal woes for Edwards. Last June, he was in­dicted by a federal grand jury in North Carolina on six felony charges that he illegally used campaign funds to cover up his extramarital affair.

If convicted, Edwards, 58, faces a maximum 30 years in jail and $1.5 million in fines. He denies doing anything illegal.

In June, The ENQUIRER revealed that Edwards was dumped by Rielle only days before he was indicted, and sources said she would testify against him at trial.

But insiders say Rielle has now forgiven him and rushed to be by his side after learning about his sudden medical crisis.

In documents filed Dec. 22 in a North Carolina federal court, lawyers claimed Edwards had “unexpectedly encountered a medical issue” that would make it “extraordinarily dif­ficult” for him to appear in court for his trial, slated to begin Jan. 30. AS the ENQUIRER revealed, Edwards had collapsed with chest pains while jogging near his estate.

Two days after the filing, Edwards drove to Charlotte, N.C. where Rielle lives with their daughter and asked to accompany them to a Christmas Eve church service, sources say.

“John told Rielle that his recent health scare was a huge wakeup call,” said the source.

During the service, Edwards broke down in tears and asked Rielle to marry him, the source divulged.


FOR THE FULL STORY and to SEE exclusive pictures of JOHN EDWARDS reunited with Rielle AND his love child QUINN for the first time since our December 2008 SPY PHOTO blockbuster  — pick up the ENQUIRER – still on sale.