Readers Give Their Take on Kerry's VP Choice
This special edition of Political Junkie comes in the wake of the selection by Sen. John Kerry of Sen. John Edwards to be his vice presidential running mate. The choice -- which was boldly predicted (yawn) in my June 30 column -- was also the overwhelming prediction of readers: 68 percent of those heeding my "Who Will It Be?" plea picked the senator from North Carolina. The vast majority also thought he was the right choice. But not everyone:
Joseph Schottland, Lubbock, Texas: "Edwards would be the correct choice. (Iowa Gov.) Tom Vilsack would have to spend too much time introducing himself to Democratic voters, let alone the general public. (Missouri Rep. Dick) Gephardt is not only portrayed by Republicans as being in the pocket of the unions, but he is perceived as a two-time loser on the national stage. Edwards may not carry N.C., but he does appeal to rural voters, especially in the Midwest."
Laura Perkins, Santa Cruz, Calif.: "Kerry would have to have his head examined if he doesn't pick Edwards."
Mark Husband, Knoxville, Tenn.: "I think the combination of experience, lack of political ambition, and his ability to carry the Midwest and the Rust Belt with his huge union support make Gephardt the best choice."
Marybeth Langer, Norman, Okla.: "It bothers me that Edwards has never explained why he took no pro bono cases, as reported in the New York Times, and that later in his trial career he took only cases that were worth $25 million. He looks like a fake populist who made money on other people's misery."
Nancy Eastman, Joplin, Mo.: "Under the current political situation and the unfortunate divisive atmosphere in the U.S.A., it seems to me that it would be a safe bet to go with someone with experience and mature wisdom -- Dick Gephardt."
Carmen LaRuffa, Bronx, N.Y.: "Besides being a charismatic, enthusiastic and passionate candidate, Howard Dean was the one to wake up America. He is a frank and honest person, which is so different from most politicians. He also has a huge base of loyal followers. I'm sure if he is chosen, Ralph Nader will end his own candidacy."
Barry Spiegel, Peoria, Ariz.: "It's hard to imagine that Republicans would be successful at hammering at Edwards' youth. I would think that avoiding comparisons of the VP candidates would be high on the GOP's list of tactics. Cheney has soured in office, from the perception of the common American -- witness the booing his image received last week when it appeared on a Yankee Stadium scoreboard during the singing of God Bless America."
David Blaustein, Ohio: "Nobody else even comes close to Edwards' charisma. Kerry-Edwards compared to the unbelievably stodgy Bush-Cheney ticket should be no contest in November. … Edwards has become a household name with a Kennedyesque quality. (I mean JFK, not Teddy.)"
A Democrat from Massachusetts, who is running for office and requested we not print his name, wrote, "I like Edwards a lot. It's Kerry I have problems with. As a professional politician, Kerry stands for nothing and represents the interests of no one but himself. That's why, even if he gets elected (and I hope he does), he will be at best a mediocre president. I have lived in Massachusetts most of my life, and I have watched Kerry's career unfold. He has about as much depth as a bathtub. I wish he had the courage to say what everyone (except Bush and Cheney) see as obvious -- that we need a genuine exit strategy from Iraq -- now! Kerry didn't even stand up for gays in the same-sex marriage debate."
And an interesting email came from someone who (sigh) forgot to give his name: "I keep thinking that if Edwards is picked, it would allow him to resign his Senate seat, allowing the governor of North Carolina to appoint (Democrat Senate nominee) Erskine Bowles to fill the remainder of his term, giving him a boost for November."
The next regularly scheduled column comes out on Wednesday, July 14, and will address your questions. But one of the reasons for this extra column -- which is free with your subscription -- is because of one question that many have sent in and which is time-sensitive:
Q: What can you tell me about a debate on NPR between Ralph Nader and Howard Dean, and when will I be able to hear it? -- Carolyn Miller, Seneca, S.C.
A: It's taking place Friday, July 9, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., for one hour, starting at 2 p.m. ET. NPR's Justice Talking program is sponsoring the debate, hosted by NPR's Margot Adler. I don't have a complete listing of those stations airing it live, but I do know the list includes WNYC in New York, WHYY in Philadelphia, WAMC in Albany, N.Y., and WSKG in Binghamton, N.Y. WAMU in Washington is airing it Friday at 10 p.m. KPCC in Los Angeles will air it Friday at 7 p.m. local time. I suggest you contact your local NPR station to find out if and when it will carry it.
Meanwhile, the easiest way to hear it live is to head to www.npr.org, which will be streaming the event.
As for its content: Dean is expected to argue the case that Nader should not be running, and that his candidacy would help Bush, etc. The former Vermont governor now heads up Democracy for America, a group that backs progressive candidates around the country, and he is supporting Kerry. For his part, Nader says that rather than be held accountable for Al Gore's defeat in 2000, the onus should fall on the millions of Democrats who voted for Bush or stayed home. According to a release from the Nader campaign, they are urging its supporters to pledge $5 for every time Dean "strays from substance" and mentions things like "spoiler," "Florida 2000," "A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush," or "Not the year for a third party."
This Day in Campaign History: President Gerald Ford makes it official -- he will run for the post in 1976. Ford, appointed vice president in 1973 after Spiro Agnew quit in disgrace, moved up to the presidency in 1974 following the resignation of Richard Nixon (July 8, 1975). Ford went on to lose to Jimmy Carter in November.
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