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Kerry, Edwards to Campaign Together Wednesday - 2004-07-06

Democratic presidential contender John Kerry will campaign Wednesday with his newly announced vice presidential running mate, North Carolina Senator John Edwards. Senator Kerry made the Edwards choice public at a rally in Pittsburgh Tuesday.

John Kerry broke new ground by first sending out word of his vice presidential selection via email to hundreds of thousands of supporters across the country.

Moments later, Senator Kerry announced it himself before scores of enthusiastic Democrats in Pittsburgh, some of whom waved signs that read, Kerry-Edwards.

"A man who has shown guts and determination and political skill in his own race for the Presidency of the United States. A man whose life has prepared him for leadership and whose character brings him to exercise it. I am pleased to announce that with your help, the next Vice President of the United States will be Senator John Edwards of North Carolina," said Senator Kerry.

John Edwards, 51, was elected to the Senate from North Carolina in 1998. He decided not to seek a second term this year and instead ran for president, winning only the primary in his native state of South Carolina.

Senator Kerry chose him over more experienced Democrats like Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt and Florida Senator Bob Graham.

But Senator Edward's energetic campaign style and his optimistic message played well with Democratic voters and a recent poll of possible Kerry running mates had Mr. Edwards as the favorite.

Among those who praised the selection was former President Bill Clinton. He spoke to National Public Radio. "They are ideologically compatible," he explained. "They are both kind of pragmatic, progressive people who will work well together, get a lot done together and I think people will see that and feel that."

At the White House, President Bush said he looks forward to campaigning against the Kerry-Edwards ticket. "I welcome Senator Edwards on the ticket," he added. "The vice president called him early this morning, after the announcement was made, to say that he welcomes him to the race, as do I, and I look forward to a good, spirited contest."

Political experts say vice presidential candidates usually have little impact on the election. But American University presidential historian Allan Lichtman says the Edwards selection could help the Kerry campaign, at least in the short term.

"It is an excellent choice," he noted. "John Edwards is the sweetest singer the Democrats have out there on the campaign trail and if there is anything the Kerry campaign needs, it is some swing and some music. Look, people are not going to vote for the number two. But Edwards is strong enough that he can give a jolt of electricity to the Kerry campaign and really get it started in a major way."

But analysts also predict that the Bush-Cheney campaign will zero in on John Edwards' relative lack of experience in government, having served only one term in the U.S. Senate.

Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia explained why. "Edwards is so inexperienced," said Mr. Sabato. "He has never served in public office before this one Senate term and he has a very thin resume in the Senate. He really was not a very dedicated senator. So, I think the question can fairly be asked, is this fellow really ready to assume the presidency on a moment's notice in this very dangerous time?"

Senators Kerry and Edwards will campaign together for the rest of this week in the key battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida as well as in Senator Edwards' home state of North Carolina.

The Kerry-Edwards ticket will be confirmed by Democratic delegates at the party's national nominating convention later this month in Boston.