February 12, 2004
Dean for Edwards

When I first stumped for John Edwards as the second half of a Kerry/YourNameHere ticket, I mentioned that I had a gut feeling that having Edwards on board would help Kerry woo back some Dean voters who are unenthusiastic about him. Looks like my instinct was pretty accurate.

It's not surprising that John Edwards says he would be a tougher opponent for President Bush than Democratic front-runner John Kerry. It raises eyebrows when Howard Dean says the same thing.


Dean told CBS News in an interview that will air Wednesday night that he believes Edwards would be the better candidate in the general election, even though Kerry has the advantage right now.

"My fear is that he actually won't be the strongest Democratic candidate," Dean told the network.

Not exactly an endorsement, but it's easy to see how to get there from here. Whether it's Edwards or not, I feel pretty strongly that Kerry's choice for VP ought to provide not just a good contrast to himself, but also a good one to Big Time Dick. I want someone who's forward-looking, 21st Century, not a reach back, and Edwards fills that bill very well. That's the biggest strike in my mind against otherwise-credible possibilities like Bob Graham, John Breaux, or Richard Gephardt, whom Jeralyn accurately calls "your father's Oldsmobile".

UPDATE: Well, maybe my instincts aren't that good after all.

[I]nterviews with both campaigns indicate a Kerry-Edwards ticket is unlikely, and advisers to both men lack the excitement for such a pairing that some voters feel.

Several Kerry advisers say the Massachusetts senator is skeptical about Edwards's strength as a running mate, saying he appears to lack the clout with Southern voters that he often brags about being able to deliver. Edwards's inability to win more than a single primary state thus far may give him the aura of a loser in the general election, these Kerry aides said. And Kerry himself recently noted with a touch of derision that, according to opinion polls, President Bush would defeat Edwards in his own home state of North Carolina.

Oh, well. Via Political Wire.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 12, 2004 to The making of the President | TrackBack

Edwards is potent, no doubt.

I don't think Kerry will pick him, though. There's the usual problem when a former candidate in his own right is selected for the second slot — that is, the fresh quotes from the primary campaign. The best line the Dems used against Reagan in 1980 was George H.W. Bush's "voodoo economics" quote from the Republican primaries, and although the Gipper overcame that to get elected, the phrase was ever after used against Reaganomics and has firmly stuck in the political lexicon. Edwards hasn't delivered up anything so effective against Kerry; whether he does so in the next few days, now that he's the last semi-credible alternative to Kerry, will tell us whether he's serious about not wanting the second slot on a Kerry ticket.

There's the bigger problem that Edwards' greatest strengths — youth, charisma, and folksy articulacy — highlight just how dull Kerry is.

But the biggest problem is electoral. While Edwards may help the ticket as an effective campaigner and attractive VP choice, there's no guarantee that he can deliver even his home state, much less any other of the southern states that Kerry will need (notwithstanding his arrogant claim of a few weeks ago that it's a mistake for Democratic candidates to look to the South). Kerry himself beat Edwards like a drum in Tennessee and Virginia.

My bet is on New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. Although not from the Old South, he'd cement an admittedly small state that Gore barely took in 2000, he'd run well in the Old South, he's got foreign policy experience most state-level politicians lack, and he's hispanic (Mexican mother) — think Florida.

Posted by: Beldar on February 12, 2004 8:51 AM

Well, Edwards has run a largely positive campaign - from the cited article: "Edwards' advisers also said he would remain positive and refused to criticize Kerry." I don't think there are any current "voodoo economics" quotes by Edwards that would bite either of them if he gets picked. Of course, if it ultimately comes down to Kerry v. Edwards as the last two men standing, then all bets are off.

The point about how Edwards could help Kerry win a red state is a good one, though, which is why names like Gep, Bayh, Graham, and Breaux get tossed around. I'm still not sure it makes that much difference, but I agree it's worth strong consideration.

Edwards' better charisma could be a problem - I recall the jokes that Bush 41 chose Quayle to make himself look better - but let's face it: if Kerry is a block of wood on the campaign trail he's gonna get toasted anyway. Maybe having a hotshot understudy would inspire him to do better. Who knows?

I should mention Richardson more prominently because he does have all of the advantages you list. I get the impression that choosing him would be portrayed as a pander somehow, which is totally unfair. He'd be a fine choice.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on February 12, 2004 9:21 AM

I'm a little nervous about a 2 Senator ticket. If it has to be Kerry, I would think a young-ish governor would be better. I'm thinking Virginia's Mark Warner. I noticed him campaigning with Kerry and also at Kerry's VA victory speech. He's pretty charismatic and they look good together. Don't know too much about him though, but if it looks good on TeeVee, that's probably all that matters (unfortunately).

Posted by: Rob Humenik on February 12, 2004 9:25 AM

This choice is going to be hard one. I agree that you need a contrast to Kerry but i think he will need someone who will help him win a state because i do think it will be close. Edwards is articulate but i agree with the Kerry campaign that he won't help him win a state and if you pick a southerner you want someone who will be strong in his or her region. Maybe a Blanche lincoln, a moderate southern female in about the only southern state that Kerry could win if the conditions are perfect.

Posted by: Tek_XX on February 13, 2004 12:37 AM

Speaking of Mark Warner... CNN or someone reported earlier this week (actually I think it was Hotline on CNN) that Warner's endorsement came with a quid pro quo that Warner would be on Kerry's "short-list" for VP picks. It makes sense that Warner would ask seeing that he's term-limited and is out of a job after 2005, and a VP would set him up to run in 2012. I think Warner would add a lot to the ticket as someone who's proven his ability to win statewide in the south (two months after 9/11, I might add, when Rudy was out stumping for his opponent). I think Kerry/Edwards would be better, but my gut tells me that Kerry would be more comfortable with someone who wasn't in the race.

Posted by: Byron L on February 13, 2004 1:27 AM

Although less likely to happen, another interesting question is who would Edwards choose for his running mate. He could use a bit a foreign policy credentials so my guess is Wes Clark.

Seriously, I do not think this is a done deal quite yet. It is unlikely but I believe that Edwards has a 7-12% chance to be the nominee. Far stranger things have happened.

Posted by: Dwight Meredith on February 14, 2004 1:56 PM

I want to thank all of you down there for the great work you're doing to pull off this scam of the century. I know we didn't expect them to notice that a 1972 document was done on Word, who would have thought they would notice???? But all of us up here at CBS central are working hard to keep our relationship secret (hey who was the idiot that used a kinkos?--just kidding). LOL!!! Anyway, I hope to return to the greatest state in the union, I just hope it won't be sooner than I thought. LOL!! Anyway, you all take care now!!

Posted by: Dan Rather on September 16, 2004 1:23 PM