Democratic presidential contender John Kerry has chosen former rival John Edwards to be his vice presidential running mate.

Senator Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, made the announcement at a rally in Pittsburgh.

"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.

51-year old John Edwards 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.

The Kerry campaign made the initial announcement in an email sent out to supporters nationwide. Senator Kerry says John Edwards has the ability to appeal to a wide spectrum of voters in the November election.

"As you know, I am determined that we reach out across party lines, that we speak [to] the heart of America, that we speak of hope and of optimism and John Edwards will join me in doing that," he said.

Senator Edwards was a trial lawyer for many years before entering politics and gained prominence by winning a series of high-profile lawsuits.

Political analysts say there are pros and cons to the Edwards selection.

"Edwards brings a lot of energy and charisma to the Democratic ticket, which is wanting, let's be honest. John Kerry does not have much charisma," commented University of Virginia expert Larry Sabato.

But Larry Sabato also says Republicans will question whether John Edwards is qualified to become vice president.

"Edwards is so inexperienced," he said. "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?"

Senator Edwards did not appear at the Pittsburgh rally with Senator Kerry but the two men are expected to campaign together the rest of this week.

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