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Jul 31, 2004 10:40 pm

The Edwards Pick

In his first major decision as the Democrat’s presumptive presidential candidate, John Kerry did the right thing and picked John Edwards as his running mate. Edwards is the sweetest singer the Democrats have on the campaign trail. The Kerry campaign is badly in need of some music, some swing. Edwards is also an effective thematic campaigner with his story of the two Americas (taken from Mario Cuomo’s 1984 convention speech. “A Tale of Two Cities”), one affluent and privileged, the other facing trials and deprivation. He also ties in this theme with his personal story of achieving success from humble beginnings. Edwards also has real down-home appeal: he knows how to put the hay down where the goats can get it.

The administration’s attacks on Edwards fall flat. The Bush campaign argues that he lacks experience, especially in foreign policy. Yet the GOP dismissed that argument when leveled in 2000 against George W. Bush – who had about the same number of years in government as Edwards and far less foreign policy experience. As for the argument that Edwards represented special interests as a trial lawyer, Edwards responds with devastating effect that he helped little guys terribly wronged by circumstances beyond their control. Already, Edwards is trouncing the experienced Dick Cheney in the polls.

All this said, it is important to note that people don’t vote for the number two candidate on the ticket. It is futile, for example, to try to win a state or a region through a vice presidential pick. In 1948, for example, the Republicans nominated the “dream team” of Tom Dewey, the governor of New York, and Earl Warren, the governor of California. Yet the Republicans lost California and the election. The only arguable example of a vice president pick that mattered is Lyndon Johnson, who likely carried Texas in 1960 for John F. Kennedy. However, Kennedy would still have won the Electoral College vote without Texas. The Edwards choice matters this year only if it transforms the entire Kerry campaign. Kerry supporters hope that John Edwards will provide the jolt of electricity that is needed to give life to a campaign that so far has been lying flat on the operating table.

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David a. Cousins - 8/27/2004

Edwards does not deliver his home state, any other state, any new substance or experience to the ticket. So why is he on the ticket? To smile at the girls on the campaign trail. That is the only reason he is on the ticket.