View Full Version : Kerry picks Edwards

July 7th, 2004, 10:33 AM

Kerry Selects a Partner With Contrasts That Complement

The New York Times
Published: July 7, 2004

WASHINGTON, July 6 ? In John Edwards, Senator John Kerry selected a running mate who embodies the very attributes that some Democrats worry that Mr. Kerry lacks: a vigorous campaign presence, an engaging personal manner and a crisp message that stirred Democrats from Iowa to New Hampshire.

Mr. Kerry even took a risk or two in compensating for his own shortcomings, embracing a trial lawyer who has less governmental experience than any other major vice-presidential candidate in at least 20 years.

Senator John Edwards and Senator John Kerry and their families appeared this morning on the Kerry family's suburban Pittsburgh estate.

As a result, many Democrats said Tuesday, this highest-profile decision of Mr. Kerry's public life was as instructive about the party's presumed presidential candidate as it was about Mr. Edwards. It was the move of a candidate who is proving to be methodical, discreet, coolly pragmatic and exceedingly self-assured; one who is so intensely focused on victory as to be presumably unruffled by the unflattering stylistic contrasts that will surely be drawn whenever he and Mr. Edwards share a stage.

"The fact that he's big enough to accept somebody on the ticket that has that kind of impressive and shiny personality ? the public will see that," said Walter F. Mondale, the former vice president. "He was looking for someone who could add strength ? not just geographically ? to the ticket and help him get elected."

"Presidential candidates are always suspicious of anybody on the platform who outshines them. I remember how Lyndon used to chafe when Hubert was on the platform," Mr. Mondale continued, referring to his fellow Minnesotan Hubert H. Humphrey and President Lyndon B. Johnson. "Hubert told me he learned to trim his sails when Johnson was there."

And so it was that Mr. Kerry settled on someone whose strengths as a campaigner were often held up to highlight Mr. Kerry's own shortcomings, but whose political attributes were widely agreed upon by Democrats who pressed Mr. Kerry to choose him. In fact, even one Republican who should know, former Vice President Dan Quayle, said the selection was the "logical, natural choice."

It is not just a matter of Mr. Edwards's patching up any holes in the Kerry r?sum?. He is a prodigious fund-raiser, especially given his deep ties to trial lawyers. He has a strong appeal to minority voters. And he brings the skills of a courtroom lawyer to a campaign debate, as Mr. Kerry learned earlier this year, and as Dick Cheney will soon experience firsthand.

As several Democrats argued Tuesday, Mr. Edwards's selection will probably reconfigure the geographic calculus of both campaigns, putting new regions in play. As a trial lawyer and a politician, Mr. Edwards has over the years styled himself as a champion of the working class, the son of a mill worker who grew up in the rural South. It is a background that suggests that Mr. Edwards will be a strong salesman for the Kerry ticket in rural parts of the Midwest, where even a shift in a handful of votes could be critical.

"He opens up a part of rural America that has been shutting down for Democrats," said James Carville, a Democratic commentator close to Mr. Edwards. "He knows how to talk to them: his language, his speech, his mannerisms, his everything, tells them I was one of you, I understand you."

And while few Democrats believe it is likely that Mr. Edwards can win his own state, North Carolina, (the betting among Democratic officials is that Mr. Edwards would have had a tough time winning re-election as senator), his presence on the ticket means that the White House may be forced to divert some resources into Southern states that it would just as soon take for granted.

Yet for all the benefits, there are decided risks to the choice of Mr. Edwards, as even some Democrats said Tuesday. While Mr. Kerry insisted that he would name a running mate whose qualifications to step in as president during a time of war were unassailable, he chose a 51-year-old who has served just five years in the Senate.

Before Mr. Kerry even alerted his supporters of his decision in a mass e-mail message on Tuesday morning, Mr. Bush's camp began pounding Mr. Edwards's qualifications, invoking the words of skepticism Mr. Kerry had voiced about Mr. Edwards during the primary. Michael Nelson, a political scientist at Rhodes College in Memphis, suggested that the selection of Mr. Edwards had the effect of guaranteeing that Mr. Bush would not push Vice President Dick Cheney off the ticket because of the contrast between the two on national security.

"To the extent that you can get voters to concentrate on another terrorist attack and who is going to be there in the cockpit if the president is on the road somewhere,'' Mr. Nelson said, "that's exactly the kind of frame in which Cheney looks impressive."

But if this campaign has proved anything, it is that Mr. Kerry does not take big risks unless he has to. And considering the number of Democrats who urged Mr. Kerry to take this course, and the fact that presidential candidates typically tap their closest primary competitor, this would hardly qualify as a huge risk.

"It's a very logical choice if you stand back and think about it," Mr. Quayle said. "It's a safe choice."

It was also very much an insight into the style Mr. Kerry has brought to this campaign. Mr. Mondale, remembering his own risky, and ultimately damaging decision, to choose Geraldine A. Ferraro as a running mate in 1984, said he was impressed at Mr. Kerry's success at keeping his deliberations almost entirely secret and organized. "It shows that he's very careful and organized and that he is quite aware of different traps that his predecessors have gotten into in the V.P. selection process," Mr. Mondale said.

It is hardly a secret that Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards were not the best of friends during the primary and were never particularly close in the Senate. Some Democrats had suggested that, given their basically cordial relationship - combined with the ego concerns of any presidential candidate that Mr. Mondale noted in recalling Johnson's view of Humphrey - Mr. Kerry would ultimately turn in this vice-presidential selection process to a comfortable friend, Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri.

But James A. Johnson, who headed the search process for Mr. Kerry (and who was Mr. Mondale's campaign chairman in 1984), said that at his very first meeting with Mr. Kerry about the vice-presidential search, the senator made clear that he did not want Mr. Johnson to discount any prospective candidate with whom he quarreled during the primary, or who might eclipse him.

In the end, this might be the single most instructive thing about the choice that Mr. Kerry made on Tuesday. He is, it seems, not very different from the Democratic voters he encountered across the country this year: Ravenous for victory against Mr. Bush, and prepared to do almost whatever it takes to win.[/i]
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July 7th, 2004, 10:57 AM
Personally, I didn't think he would, and now that he has, I just hope Edwards doesn't turn out to be AOL to Kerry's Time-Warner.
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July 7th, 2004, 11:18 AM
I like John Edwards. I think that he has the enthusiasm that Kerry lacks. Since he wasn't elected to run for the presidency by the democrats than I think that he at least should be given the chance for the vice-presidency.

No more dirty mouth Chaney!

July 7th, 2004, 11:34 AM
The real question is whether Bush will stick with Cheney in response. If he does, Kerry has the advantage, provided Edwards is not demonized for driving up the cost of healthcare (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/31/politics/campaign/31EDWA.html?ex=1089259200&en=e0113afb3eb4e4f1&ei=5 070), and entrenching mushrooming malpractice costs within a Kerry national care proposal.

July 7th, 2004, 01:40 PM
He will be, but at the same time, he fought for "the people" in trying to go after these insurance companies.

So it can, and will, be played both ways.

If Edwards has a dirty fingernail the GOP will make an ad about it, are you kidding me?

It might not even be dirt!

July 8th, 2004, 06:02 AM
July 8, 2004

Republicans Move Fast to Make Experience of Edwards an Issue


WASHINGTON, July 7 - At President Bush's first campaign stop in North Carolina on Wednesday morning, he was asked how Vice President Dick Cheney stacked up against the new Democratic vice-presidential candidate, who, the president was told, is already being described as "charming, engaging, a nimble campaigner, a populist and even sexy."

Mr. Bush was ready with a one-liner: "Dick Cheney can be president."

With that sharp retort, Mr. Bush showed how aggressively Republicans were moving to expose what party leaders view as Senator John Edwards's greatest vulnerability: his lack of experience.

Hoping to offset what they acknowledge is the fresh-faced political appeal of Mr. Edwards, Republicans are trying to make the case that in a dangerous new world, filled with marauding terrorists and nations racing to go nuclear, he is not ready to step into the Oval Office should events require. They argue that he does not even have a full Senate term under his belt, that he is responsible for no significant legislation and that his service on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Democrats say amounts to far more experience than many candidates have had, hardly amounts to adequate preparation.

"He may have left some footprints on the beaches of North Carolina, but you couldn't find any on the floor of the Senate," said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the No. 2 Republican, who said he could not "think of a single thing" memorable about Mr. Edwards's Senate service.

In fact, Mr. Edwards's record indicates he is neither the neophyte that the Republicans portray him to be nor the kind of deeply engaged thinker about terrorism and United States security that one might envision after listening to the conference calls of the campaign of Senator John Kerry. Mr. Edwards spent significant time on security issues before and after Sept. 11, 2001, but by that time he was already contemplating running for president, an effort that kept him away from Capitol Hill.

Before he dropped out of the race earlier this year, Mr. Edwards won praise when he gave a speech that focused on how to create a "global nuclear compact" that would deal with nations abusing provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to build nuclear weapons. It paved the way for a similar set of proposals Mr. Kerry made only recently.

What remains to be seen, however, is how well Mr. Edwards can integrate national security issues when he is away from his speechwriters, when there are no briefing books. When The New York Times was interviewing the Democratic hopefuls on foreign policy early this year, Mr. Edwards was the only one of the major candidates who did not sit down for a detailed discussion. He cited scheduling pressures.

On Wednesday, Democrats were ready for the critique that their candidate was a lightweight on national security, and they wasted no time opening a counteroffensive. They asserted that Mr. Edwards's five years in the Senate stacked up nicely with the amount of time Mr. Bush himself served as governor of Texas - his first public office - before moving to the Oval Office. Within hours of the announcement of Mr. Edwards's selection on Tuesday, the Kerry campaign was already offering old Democratic foreign policy hands to testify to the candidate's bona fides as a quick learner if not a longtime player.

"His proliferation speech was probably the best foreign policy speech of any candidate during the primaries," Samuel R. Berger, the national security adviser under President Bill Clinton, said Tuesday. "And when 9/11 came along, he probably knew more about the terror issues than most members of the Intelligence Committee."

On Capitol Hill, that theme was echoed with a jab at President Bush. "John Edwards has a lot more Washington experience than George Bush had four years ago," said the Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota. "But secondly, it isn't the length of experience in any case, it's the quality of the experience." Moreover, Democrats argue, Mr. Kerry's depth of experience makes it far less important that his running mate do for him what Mr. Cheney did for Mr. Bush.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts and a close ally of Mr. Kerry, noted that his brother John F. Kennedy fell just short of being chosen for the ticket in 1956 with only four years in the Senate to his credit and was elected president at age 43 in 1960.

"The most important qualities are character and judgment, and I think he has demonstrated those here in the Senate and clearly over the course of his life," said Mr. Kennedy.

But Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi and a fellow member of the Intelligence Committee, said that Democrats would be making a mistake if they were planning to use Mr. Edwards's service on the committee as evidence that he is now ready to participate in Oval Office decision-making.

"The very idea they would maintain that being on the Intelligence Committee for four years would qualify him in a national security-foreign policy sense is ridiculous," Mr. Lott said. "That is a very slim reed."

Republicans are also assailing Mr. Edwards, a former trial lawyer, for his opposition to limiting liability suits, a favorite cause of Mr. Bush and many business organizations. But it is the experience issue, they are convinced, that has the broader political impact. A senior White House official, who would not speak for attribution, said that Mr. Bush's sharp comment on Wednesday morning was an effort to remind Mr. Kerry of his own criteria for a vice president. "Kerry said the primary test is whether he is experienced enough to do the job of president," the official said. "That is the very thing that he took issue with in the case of Edwards, and Edwards fails the senator's own test."

But just in case the president's own words were not enough, on Wednesday afternoon the Bush campaign issued a roundup of quotations and commentary focusing on Mr. Edwards's experience.

"I think it is a problem," said Charlie Black, a Republican strategist, about Mr. Edwards's public service résumé. "What it shows is that Kerry picked the guy because of his campaigning ability rather than his experience and his ability to govern. That just confirms what people think, that Kerry is a political opportunist rather than a political leader."

Senator John E. Sununu, Republican of New Hampshire, said he believed the choice also put a spotlight on what he viewed as Mr. Kerry's own lackluster Senate record. "Now you have two people with a total of 25 years in the Senate with no substantial legislation," he said.

Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster, agreed with Republicans that voters would set a higher standard for competence and experience in this election, given terrorism and the war in Iraq. But he said Mr. Kerry had already cleared that hurdle on the basis of his own qualifications.

"Unlike George W. Bush, who needed a Cheney; unlike Carter, who needed a Mondale; unlike Clinton, who needed a Gore; and unlike Reagan, who needed a Bush, Kerry has the freedom to add to his ticket in terms of linkage with the voters," Mr. Hart said.

Some of Mr. Edwards's Democratic colleagues on the Intelligence Committee also rejected the assertion that he did not have the credentials for the job. Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, said he sat two seats away from Mr. Edwards and recalled that he was among the first to articulate flaws he saw in intelligence gathering.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 8th, 2004, 08:38 AM
"Kerry said the primary test is whether he is experienced enough to do the job of president," the official said. "That is the very thing that he took issue with in the case of Edwards, and Edwards fails the senator's own test."

But just in case the president's own words were not enough, on Wednesday afternoon the Bush campaign issued a roundup of quotations and commentary focusing on Mr. Edwards's experience.

"I think it is a problem," said Charlie Black, a Republican strategist, about Mr. Edwards's public service résumé. "What it shows is that Kerry picked the guy because of his campaigning ability rather than his experience and his ability to govern. That just confirms what people think, that Kerry is a political opportunist rather than a political leader."

Is Kerry going down the same road as Gore, listening too much to his handlers' focus groups?

July 8th, 2004, 11:19 AM
Probably, but in this case it looks like he's listening to the right handlers.. hard to find anyone who doesn't think the John-John ticket is a winner (except the GOP that is)
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July 8th, 2004, 12:22 PM
[quote]Is Kerry going down the same road as Gore, listening too much to his handlers' focus groups?
That's the way political campaigns are packaged now. Ever notice during speeches such as the State of the Union, how the responses of test audiences to various paragraphs are mesasured?

Marketing experts take all that data and fashion political commercials that will produce the most favorable reaction. What we get is what we want to hear, not what we should hear.

July 8th, 2004, 01:58 PM
It gets me to think that they are saying how appropriate/inappropriate that Edwards is when Bush had less experience, and less success under his belt when he ran for PRESIDENT.

Are they saying that Bush NEEDED Cheney? If so, what did he do? He has been in hiding due to the "threat of terrorisim" the past few years and has had questionable connections with Haliburton...

I HOPE these guys stick more to the issues and what they plan to do rather than what we want to hear.

Or they can both go out and be elected on how many babies they kiss.

July 8th, 2004, 02:46 PM
Despite their words to the contrary, I think the GOP will have a tough time with Edwards. Cheney has got to be very much not looking forward to a debate.

It might be a lame ass prediction, but I think it might not be Bush-Cheney in 2004. I don't think Bush will dump Cheney as much as Cheney might "retire" or "drop out" for "health reasons".

Againt the Kerry-Edwards ticket, Cheney is a big drag on the GOP ticket. You can bet they are going to go after John McCain to bring him into the fold with gusto.

July 8th, 2004, 02:57 PM
Againt the Kerry-Edwards ticket, Cheney is a big drag on the GOP ticket. You can bet they are going to go after John McCain to bring him into the fold with gusto.

I've been thinking the same thing, you know the Bush team is going to play some serious hardball.

July 8th, 2004, 05:19 PM
Reuters July 08, 2004

Edwards Vs. Cheney -- Yin and Yang of Campaign

By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The choice of perky John Edwards as the Democrats' vice presidential hopeful offers a stark contrast in style with Republican Dick Cheney, a trusted presidential adviser but sometimes dour campaigner.

The matchup between the sober Cheney, an experienced insider with a lengthy national security resume, and the smooth-talking Edwards, a political rookie and flashy former trial attorney, may not sway many voters in November.

But the men competing to be No. 2 behind President Bush and Democrat John Kerry are as different as any competitors in recent political history, analysts said.

"It's excitement vs. reliability. It's a fast-break offense against the stall," Republican consultant Dan Schnur said. Added Dick Harpootlian, former Democratic Party chief in South Carolina: "It's Beauty and the Beast."

The bald, bespectacled and decidedly low-key Cheney has been a powerful adviser to Bush but a lightning rod for Democratic critics, who attack his support for the war in Iraq and former leadership of energy giant Halliburton.

But Bush and Republicans say Cheney's extensive experience in government makes him the perfect adversary for Edwards, a 51-year-old freshman senator from North Carolina who was once named People magazine's sexiest politician.

"Dick Cheney can be president," Bush said on Wednesday when asked how Edwards stacked up against the vice president, a former secretary of defense, congressman and chief of staff at the White House.

Kerry, in announcing the choice of Edwards, cited his political skills and told supporters he looked forward to the October vice presidential debate when Edwards "stands up for our vision and goes toe-to-toe with Dick Cheney."

The men create an almost perfect political yin and yang, analysts said. No one will ever call Cheney sexy, but Edwards has never held a leadership position.


Where Edwards projects youth and energy, the 63-year-old Cheney has had four heart attacks. Where Edwards is known for his sunny optimism, Cheney is spoofed by comics as the government's Darth Vader.

"Everything the one guy is, the other guy isn't," said Andrew Taylor of North Carolina State University. "They have strengths and weaknesses that are amazingly different."

William Mayer of Boston's Northeastern University said Edwards' charisma might be wasted in a vice presidential pick, which rarely plays a major role in a White House race.

"There is a sense that the more low-key, steady style of Cheney, which might not play in a presidential candidate, is what people want in a vice president," he said.

The one similarity is their identification with a special interest the other party loves to hate. Edwards' background as a trial lawyer makes him a target for Republican attacks on the profession and its fondness for lawsuits.

Cheney's ties to Halliburton and the oil industry have inspired countless conspiracy theories about the motivations for the war in Iraq and his secretive 2001 energy task force.

Under attack from Democrats, Cheney's approval ratings have dropped. Given a choice of which man they would like to take over if the president died, respondents in an NBC poll preferred Edwards to Cheney by 45 to 38 percent.

Former Republican Sen. Al D'Amato of New York said on Wednesday Bush should dump Cheney for Arizona Sen. John McCain or Secretary of State Colin Powell a move that would likely inspire a conservative revolt and has been flatly rejected by the president in the past.

But Schnur, a McCain aide during his 2000 presidential run, said the criticism of Cheney served a useful purpose for Bush. He pointed to the flak taken by vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle in 1988, which didn't stop former President George Bush, the current president's father, from easily winning.

"Every day Democrats are using their message window to talk about Dick Cheney, they aren't talking about Bush," he said. "There is something to be said for having a blocking back."

Copyright © 2004 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

"Dick Cheney can be president," Bush said
Funny. I thought he was.

July 8th, 2004, 05:45 PM
Given a choice of which man they would like to take over if the president died, respondents in an NBC poll preferred Edwards to Cheney by 45 to 38 percent.

The question should be; 'Who would you trust the country in the hands of if the President is assassinated by militant islamic extremists?' (BTW who would they prefer?)

July 9th, 2004, 12:19 PM
Kerry Camp Sees Edwards Helping With Rural Vote

Published: July 9, 2004

WASHINGTON, July 8 - Senator John Kerry's political advisers plan to dispatch his new running mate, Senator John Edwards, to rural areas in critical states across the Midwest and the West, in the belief that Mr. Edwards could be an unusually powerful advocate for the ticket in regions viewed as President Bush's stronghold.

For all the attention to Mr. Edwards's Southern roots, Mr. Kerry's aides said that his strongest appeal was likely to be among rural and independent voters, two of the most vital segments of the electorate this year, because of his upbringing in a small North Carolina town and his political identity as a Southern Democrat. Mr. Kerry's aides and some outside analysts said he could be a strong presence in a dozen battleground states outside the South, from Ohio to Oregon.

''From looking at how he performed in the primaries, it is clear he did well with the rural vote," Steve Elmendorf, Mr. Kerry's deputy campaign manager, said. "We're going to send Edwards into rural states and Southern states because we think he can help us close the gap there."

The Democrats' emerging plan for Mr. Edwards comes at a time when Democratic and even some Republican officials suggest that Mr. Kerry's vice-presidential selection has the potential of being the most politically significant choice since another Massachusetts Democrat, John F. Kennedy, turned to another Southerner, Lyndon B. Johnson, in 1960. Many experts say the choice of Johnson pushed Texas into the Democrats' column and ensured Kennedy's victory.

Although Mr. Edwards is likely to sway a relatively small number of votes, Democrats and Republicans noted that the contest was likely to be determined by a sliver of voters in a handful of states, and said that Mr. Edwards appeared particularly strong among those voters the White House and Mr. Kerry's campaign had seen as pivotal to the outcome in November.

"I think it's going to help him," Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster, said of Mr. Kerry's choice of Mr. Edwards. "The picture of him and all the kids and the rest of it.

"He appeals to the Southern moderates, who in the past may have voted for the Republicans," Mr. Fabrizio added. "He's got a populist message, so it can go to union members; a sizable number of union members might have voted for George Bush. I think Edwards is appealing to female voters."

Mr. Bush's aides said they did not believe Mr. Edwards would make a significant difference, arguing that voters end up making their decisions in presidential elections based on the top of the ticket.

"People vote on the basis of the president, and they vote also, very importantly, on the basis of what a vice-presidential choice says about someone," Ken Mehlman, Mr. Bush's campaign manager, said.

But as Mr. Edwards and Mr. Kerry rode a wave of highly favorable publicity this week, there were signs of concern among Republicans. Led by Mr. Bush himself, the White House moved immediately to try to undercut Mr. Edwards by noting his lack of experience in government and challenging his ability to serve as president should something happen to Mr. Kerry. Even Mr. Kerry's advisers acknowledged the potential effectiveness of that line of attack.

National Review, one of the leading magazines of the conservative movement, posted an editorial on its Web site Thursday that served as something of a validation of Mr. Kerry's political judgment in picking Mr. Edwards.

"Edwards brings real strengths to the Democratic ticket," the editorial said. "He is an attractive figure. Voters seem to respond to youth, energy, and good looks. Edwards may also help Kerry appeal to centrist voters: Americans outside the South have a dated perception of how conservative Southern Democrats are. Edwards's campaign speech, though centered on the idea that Americans who are not rich have little hope of making it on their own, somehow comes across as optimistic."

Details of Mr. Edwards's schedule have not been worked out, campaign officials said. But Mr. Kerry's aides argued that Mr. Edwards - who at Mr. Kerry's side these past two days regularly introduced himself as someone who "grew up in a small town in North Carolina" - would be a compelling figure in rural areas of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, West Virginia, Iowa and New Mexico.

Mr. Kerry's advisers said his appeal to independent voters was displayed in another critical state when he was competing with Mr. Kerry in the Wisconsin primary. (At the time, the advisers had played down Mr. Edwards's showing among independent voters in Wisconsin.)

They also said Mr. Edwards would be a valuable asset in battleground states where he ran aggressively and built up name recognition in the primaries. Those include Iowa, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Missouri and New Mexico.

This is not to say that Mr. Edwards, who was born in South Carolina and grew up in North Carolina, will ignore the South. In one early sign of how the selection of Edwards has affected the strategies of both sides, Mr. Kerry's campaign this week purchased its first television time in North Carolina to broadcast an advertisement featuring Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards together.

Tad Devine, one of Mr. Kerry's senior advisers, said the advertisements in North Carolina reflected the campaign's calculation that the presence of Mr. Edwards on the ticket would allow Mr. Kerry to compete in Southern states like North Carolina, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Republicans dismissed the Kerry advertising purchase as a political stunt, noting that Mr. Kerry was not currently running advertisements in Louisiana or Arkansas. At the same time, Mr. Bush's campaign announced on Thursday that it was also advertising on television in North Carolina, and was prepared to respond to moves by Mr. Kerry in the other states.

Mr. Edwards's position on the ticket was described by Republicans and Democrats as a clear boost for Mr. Kerry in one obviously critical Southern state: Florida. Mr. Edwards's wife, Elizabeth, made a point of noting where she was from as the Democrats campaigned in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Wednesday night

"I'm actually a native Floridian," Ms. Edwards said. "I was born in Jacksonville. My parents married in Pensacola - they now live in Sarasota." As the crowd erupted in cheers, she warned, "I'm not done yet," explaining that her sister lives in Bradenton and she has aunts and uncles "all over this state."

Beyond Florida, Democrats said that Mr. Kerry's hopes in the South were not particularly strong, even with Mr. Edwards on the ticket. Still, with Mr. Edwards at his side, his campaign appears to be at the very least attempting to force Mr. Bush to expend resources on a part of the country that his campaign had wanted to take for granted.

"We've got to make them defend territory on the electoral map," Mr. Devine said. "And there's a lot of red out there for us to do that."

Beyond the South, a poll conducted by the University of Pennsylvania's National Annenberg Election Survey conducted earlier this week underscored the potential value of Mr. Edwards's appeal among rural voters.

The poll found that just 19 percent of rural voters had an unfavorable view of Mr. Edwards, compared with 37 percent with a favorable view. By contrast, Mr. Kerry was viewed unfavorably by 43 percent of rural voters, compared with 36 percent who viewed him favorably.

"He was so effective in talking to and reaching the economically pressured voters; he seems like he could talk their language. And it resonated with them far better than they resonate with Kerry," said Peter F. Nardulli, a political scientist at the University of Illinois in Urbana.

Mr. Edwards's potential appeal to independent voters was displayed in the Wisconsin primary. Mr. Kerry defeated Mr. Edwards there on Feb. 17, but Mr. Edwards defeated him among independent voters by a margin of 40 percent to 28 percent, according to a survey of voters leaving the polls.

Mr. Bush's advisers said they were skeptical that Mr. Edwards's presence on the ticket would make a difference in the end.

Matthew Dowd, a senior Bush political strategist, disputed the idea that the electoral strength exhibited by Mr. Edwards during the Democratic primaries was a measure of how he might help Mr. Kerry.

"The only people he appealed to is a minority of Democratic voters," Mr. Dowd said. He said there was no evidence that Mr. Edwards could draw in any voters that Mr. Kerry did not already have, adding, "You're not going to have the answer to this question in a while, and in the end it's about the president, not the vice president."

Beyond that, Mr. Fabrizio, the Republican pollster, said, the image of a youthful Mr. Edwards frolicking with his wife and two young children could help him with young voters and among moderate women, who have proven to be of concern for Republicans. And the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson argued that Mr. Edwards, as a Southerner, could help drive up turnout among black voters, as well as blue-collar voters across the country.

"The fact is, if he excites labor and civil rights and working-class whites across the country, it changes the dynamics of the race," Mr. Jackson said. "Edwards will move comfortably in Appalachia. He'll move comfortably in the Carolinas and in Georgia."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 9th, 2004, 03:29 PM
July 9, 2004


Looking Beyond Charisma


At some point, if we're sane, we'll get past the explosion of superficiality that has accompanied John Kerry's selection of John Edwards as his running mate.

Right now we're consumed with who has charisma and who doesn't, and such compelling matters as whether the candidates' wives get along.

"Do they really like each other?" asked a breathless, straight-faced TV reporter, referring to Teresa Heinz Kerry and Elizabeth Edwards. Mr. Kerry himself contributed immeasurably to the foolishness by happily proclaiming that in addition to his team's grand vision and bold ideas, "We've got better hair."

One of the more disturbing things about our presidential elections is the extent to which they can turn on criteria more suitable to high school campaigns. He's cute. Would you look at the way she dresses?

Abe Lincoln, who was decidedly not cute, and F.D.R., with his wheelchair and Eleanor, wouldn't stand a chance in the current atmosphere.

When we finally get serious, we'll see that we're facing one of the most important elections in American history. The nation is locked in a war in Iraq that we don't know how to win and don't know how to end. And the White House sent another tremor of fear through the country yesterday when it announced, with its usual absence of details, that Al Qaeda may try to disrupt the election.

Domestically there are two very divergent paths looming on such issues as the economy and jobs, taxes, health care, Social Security and government support for education. It is in this area that the differences between the two major parties are starkest, and as the campaign unfolds it's likely that the clearest evidence of the divide will come not from the top of the respective tickets, but from John Edwards and Dick Cheney.

This could be the most interesting fight of the campaign.

Dick Cheney believes, and has acknowledged (which is rare), that one of the main reasons for cutting taxes is to starve the government of resources. In an interview published in The New Yorker in May 2001, the vice president said, "If we collect those taxes, government'll spend 'em."

"So to some extent," he added, "by preventing government from collecting taxes that it currently has no use for, we avoid a situation in which we collect them and spend them and put them into the baseline to become a permanent part of the government."

That's a statement of values from a man who is proud of his hard-right political credentials. According to Time magazine, "The Washington Post once referred to Cheney the congressman as a `moderate,' prompting him to order an aide to call the paper's editors and `suggest they look at my voting record.' "

As we've learned, there was nothing moderate about the Bush-Cheney tax cuts. They've transformed the Clinton-Gore surpluses into staggering budget deficits. And there was very little that was moderate about Mr. Cheney's voting record as a congressman from Wyoming. He opposed federal funding for abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. He voted against funding for Head Start, against subsidizing school lunches for poor children, against aid to college students and against the Older Americans Act, which offered nutrition and other services to the elderly.

"Cheney's voting record was slightly more conservative than mine," said Newt Gingrich a few years ago, "but his style was not as confrontational."

Mr. Cheney's positions on some issues have no doubt evolved since the 1980's, but he has not undergone any transformation of values and still considers himself a "hard-liner." In some ways he is more of an embodiment of the Bush administration than the president himself.

Senator Edwards is as straightforward as the vice president about his own views and values, which can fairly be called populist. Mr. Edwards objects to what he calls the "two Americas," and believes government has an obligation to try to maximize opportunities for everyone. "We will say no," he says, "to kids going hungry, to the kids who don't have the clothes to keep them warm, and no forever to any American working full time and living in poverty."

This will not be an election between tweedledum and tweedledee. Charisma and hairstyles aside, by November it should be apparent that voters will have a clear and unambiguous choice about the direction this nation is to travel over the next several years.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 9th, 2004, 09:21 PM
The veep debates will be interesting. I kind of think Edwards would get creamed if the moderators weren't predisposed to like him, which was the case in every primary debate I saw.

The big question here is.. what if W manages to do what Kerry couldn't -- put McCain on the ticket?? :shock:
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July 11th, 2004, 03:30 PM

from the left (actually this one's from India)...

John Edwards Would Sway Votes For Kerry, Says Survey

Sunday, July 11, 2004

New York, July 11 (NNN) : A new poll says John Edwards, the vice president candidate of Democratic frontrunner John Kerry is likely to sway more votes for the latter than Dick Cheney can do as the running-mate of President George Walker Bush in the November elections.

Kerry had chosen Edwards his running mate only last week and the first opinion poll show that the voters expect him to invigorate the Democratic campaign.

A poll held by Time magazine finds that 24 per cent voters are "more likely" to vote for Kerry with Edwards joining him. But only 11 per cent say that the Cheney would make them "more likely" to vote for Bush.

Fifty-two percent of voters say that Edwards is either an "excellent" (19 per cent) or "good" (33 per cent) choice to be the running-mate on the Democratic ticket.

Asked directly which of the two vice presidential candidates would make a better president, 47 per cent picked Edwards and 38 per cent Cheney.

The poll showed that voters have a mixed reaction to Cheney's strong advocacy and defence of the US invasion of Iraq : 42 per cent say this makes them more favourable toward Cheney, while 39 per cent say it makes them less favourable toward him.

According to the poll, Bush's approval ratings continued to fall with just 43 per cent supporting his re-election while 53 per cent said it is time for someone else to take over.

If the election were held today, 49 per cent of voters would favour Kerry and 45 per cent say they would vote for Bush, with only 6 per cent undecided.

...and from The Christian Broadcasting Network:

Lukewarm Response in Polls to John Edwards Pick

By John Jessup
Washington Correspondent
July 9, 2004

CBN.com ? WASHINGTON - John Kerry doesn't seem to have gotten any "bounce" from John Edwards.

The race for the White House remains very close.

And both campaigns are trying to gain an advantage by claiming the high ground on moral values.

John Edwards' addition to the democratic presidential ticket was this week's big news for Democrats, but apparently is not a big deal among voters. While Senator Kerry has picked up some support among Southern and rural voters, recent polls show The Bush-Cheney Kerry-Edwards matchup is close.

While the latest Zogby poll shows the race essentially tied, an Associated Press poll shows President Bush leading Kerry 49 percent to 45 percent, just outside the margin of error.

Aside from the economy, one of the major election-year issues will be national security and the war on terrorism. And according to officials, terrorist groups are looking to have a direct impact on how Americans vote, possibly targeting this summer's Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

Tom Ridge, Secretary of Homeland Defense, said, "Credible reporting now indicates that al-Qaeda is moving forward with its plans to carry out a large-scale attack in the United States in an effort to disrupt our democratic process."

The road to November Second may be get a little rocky for the candidates in the battle over cultural values, another important issue among voters. Kerry's recent message aims to win potential votes by appealing to the social values of the middle class. This is a group to whom he hopes John Edwards can rally appeal.

Kerry said, "I have chosen a man who understands and defends the values of America."

But Republicans say the democratic ticket is the most liberal in U.S. history, and that it is out of step with the values of Americans. And to prove it, they are highlighting the senators' liberal voting records.

President Bush said, "Kerry found time to vote against the Laci/Conor Act, Kerry has his priorities, are they yours?"

And the ultimate values issue this election year takes center stage in the Senate today: gay marriage. The Senate is scheduled to debate the Federal Marriage Amendment - legislation that would limit matrimony to one man and one woman. It would also bar federal courts from hearing any case that challenges the law.

While President Bush supports the FMA, Senators Edwards and Kerry are being hailed as the "most gay-supportive" ticket in history. The human rights campaign gave Kerry a perfect 100 rating for his work expanding homosexual rights. An issue that will continue to surface as the battle over values and the White House continues.
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