Tuesday, July 06, 2004

John Edwards is Kerry's VP Pick

UPDATED: 7/7 @ 2:50 PM
So its John Edwards after all. I for one like the pick, considering my #1 choice (Bill Richardson) took himself out of the running. I think Edwards helps much more in a VP role than as the presidential candidate. My thoughts on the impacts:

1) Bush has to actually work to win the south. I think he'll still win it, but Joe Trippi says (and I agree) Kerry's chances are now drastically improved in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Ohio (who's southern portion votes like the south).

2) Bush's hard campaigning in the south will exert a significant influence on the senate races there. Tight races are present in NC, SC, LA, GA, and FL among others. Those are considered tough holds for the democrats (who are stuck defending open seats in all of them). Whether or not Bush helps or hurts his GOP allies depends alot on how his campaign is going.

3) Edwards will see alot of action not just in the south but in the Midwest and rustbelt, where his more folksy charm and background will go over better than the aristocratic Kerry. Kerry will spend most of his time in the Northeast and West coast, where his liberalism isn't a liability, and in areas where his military credentials shine through (such as the southwest).

4) Kerry's economic message will be a restatement of what Edwards ran in the primaries, that Bush's economic practices reward wealth over work and that the middle class faces a heavier tax burden than it did before the Bush administration took office.

All of these bode well for the Kerry campaign as the Bush administration continues to the flounder. And if Edwards can inject some life in the staid Kerry campaign, then his choice will be wise indeed.

The Powerline Blog has responded to the selection of Edwards with skepticism that it will help Kerry at all. First, they quote Hugh Hewitt saying that the selection of Edwards demonstrates that they care more about political convienance than helping the country, alleging that Edwards doesn't have the heft to be president in the event a crisis strikes. I think that one, its a bit rich of the right to be alleging that the Democratic VP has inadequate FP experience to lead when their PRESIDENTIAL candidate had virtually no experience in that field until this year. No ones denying that the FP heft of the Kerry/Edwards ticket falls squarely on the Kerry side of the line. At the same time, it only falls on one side of the Bush/Cheney ticked too. And I think that Edwards has shown himself to have "good instincts" on the matter (which powerline alleges is all that matters anyway).

Then they state that Edwards popularity with independents is overstated, as there aren't many independents that vote in the Democratic Primary and independents who vote in the democratic primary aren't really all that independent! This would be a valid critique if it wasn't for the fact that the democratic primaries aren't the only election Sen. Edwards has ever ran in. North Carolina isn't exactly friendly terrain for democrats in 1998 or today, and winning an open seat there seems to require a strong appeal to independents, centrists, and Reagan Democrats. This all seems to suggest that Edwards' percieved strength in this area is more than the innane speculation of some liberal talking heads and actually grounded in the realities of Edwards strong stump speech, good instincts, and gift for connecting to voters and "regular people." Bush's "compassionate conservative" shill in 2000 shows how effective that strategy can be no matter how stridently the opposition tries to label you an extremist (even when they're right!).

Indeed, the more I think about it, the more similarities I see between Cheney and Kerry, and Bush and Edwards. Cheney/Kerry are both relatively unlikeable, with strong foreign policy experience and a reputation (deserved or not) of being stalwarts of the more extreme wings of their respective parties. Bush and Edwards, by contrast, focus on their appeal to "regular people" and charm far more than their resume. The only major difference is that while Bush is a weak orator and when he does speak, speaks in platitudes, Edwards is a gifted speaker who was lauded for the strong, specific campaign platform he issued in the Primaries. I almost wish Kerry would debate Cheney and Edwards would debate Bush.

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