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It Will be a Kerry-Edwards Ticket

Aired July 6, 2004 - 15:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: That's the ticket.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: With your help, the next vice president of the United States of America will be Senator John Edwards from North Carolina.

ANNOUNCER: What does Edwards bring to the Kerry campaign? We're scouring the polls and the past for clues.

REP. DICK GEPHARDT (D-MO), FRM. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm excited about this team. I really am.

ANNOUNCER: Is the Kerry/Edwards partnership really going to fly with the also-rans and other Democrats?

Over at the Bush camp, the knives are out even as the president rolls out the welcome mat.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I welcome Senator Edwards on the ticket.



JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us for this special 90-minute edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

Well, the guessing game finally is over. We know whom he chose. But John Kerry's campaign is still keeping us waiting for the traditional hands clapped in the air photo of the new running Democratic mates. John Edwards is due at Kerry's home in Pittsburgh this evening, but he still was in Washington when the soon-to-be presidential nominee made his announcement this morning. We begin our in-depth look at the new Kerry/Edwards ticket with CNN's Joe Johns in Pittsburgh.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kerry started the day by making calls to John Edwards as well as the finalists who were not chosen and others. Then he stepped out on the stage in Market Square in Pittsburgh in a sea of waving flags to make his announcement. KERRY: I have chosen a man who understands and defends the values of America. A man who has shown courage and conviction as a champion from middle-class Americans and for those struggling to reach the middle class.

I am pleased to announce that with your help, the next vice president of the United States of will be John Edwards from North Carolina.

JOHNS: Edwards, who was in Washington at the time, had already accepted the offer and planned to meet with Kerry later in the day.

The two men clashed in the primaries and Republicans immediately started using Kerry's own words to portray Edwards, a first-term senator from North Carolina as inexperienced. Kerry apparently tried to address some of that criticism preemptively in his speech.

KERRY: John Edwards is ready for this job. He is ready for this job.

And there is something else about John Edwards that is important in this campaign and our country at this critical time. As you know, I am determined that we reach out across party lines, that we speak the heart of America, that we speak of hope and of optimism. And John Edwards will join me in doing that.

JOHNS: Aides suggested Edwards appealed to middle-class voters was a big selling point. The campaign moved quickly to attach the Edwards name to all think John Kerry, with e-mails, a Web site, a CD ROMs, T-shirts bearing the names of both men were handed out at the rally. And by the time Kerry and his traveling party got to the airport, the decal on the campaign plane had already been updated. The campaign schedule was also revised, calling for Edwards and Kerry to be in Pennsylvania and Ohio on Wednesday, on Thursday in Florida and New York, and in West Virginia and New Mexico on Friday.


JOHNS: So they went out to Indianapolis to address the African Methodist Episcopal Church Convention, coming back here to Pittsburgh, Judy, as you said. We're expecting them together. The question is whether we will get that picture.

One other note, the campaign is also trying to get a fast start in advertising. Now that Edwards' name has been established as the running mate, they're putting together a commercial and making an ad buy on cable TV -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Wasting no time. Joe Johns in Pittsburgh, thank you.

John Edwards' own failed presidential bid gave him a taste of life in a fishbowl, but now he enters a whole new realm of political fame and frenzy. CNN's Kelly Wallace has been staking out Edwards' home here in Washington all day -- Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Judy, a whole new realm indeed, because I am not alone out here, of course. A few dozen reporters and photo journalists are gathered in this normally quiet Georgetown neighborhood waiting for the shot of the day when it comes to John Edwards.

We're expecting really at any moment, sometime, probably within this hour, for John Edwards, his wife Elizabeth and their three children to come outside their home. They're not expected to talk to any of us, not expected to make any comments. But then they're expected to head to the airport to meet, as Joe Johns was reporting, and meet with John Kerry, his wife Teresa and the rest of the family up in Pittsburgh.

Earlier, though, John Edwards did release a written statement. And in that statement, he said, quote, "I was honored this morning to receive a call from Senator Kerry asking me to join his ticket. I was humbled by his offer and thrilled to accept it." He went to praised John Kerry as a man of strength, character and courage.

We know in that call came in earlier this morning. And in that conversation, an aide to Edwards said that the senator conveyed to John Kerry how excited he is, in his words, to work together to try to make the country stronger. An aide is describing the senator as excited but also remarkably calm.

What unfolded here, a team of Kerry aides who will be working with John Edwards, came to this house. And when they arrived, we're told the first question he asked is "How long should I pack the kids for?" The aide do not respond, though not clear how long they will be on the road.

John Edwards spent the day receiving dozens of calls from friends and family members as well as other political leaders, including former President Clinton. And we know that John Edwards sent a great deal of time talking to the former president, considers him somewhat of a hero when it comes to a political leader and a campaigner.

And in fact, many members -- or few members of the international press corps are here. One of our colleagues describing John Edwards as Clinton without the scandals.

Now, Georgetown is sort of taking a page, really, in the history books in campaign '04, because John Edwards lives right here behind me. Literally just around the block, John Kerry and his wife Teresa live. And then just about a block away is the home of former Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

Judy, as we know, there was a key meeting there Thursday night, a secret meeting, between John Kerry and John Edwards. John Edwards interrupting his family vacation in Florida to meet with John Kerry. Kerry's aides say that meeting was very, very good. Clearly part of the process for John Kerry to make the decision to tap John Edwards as his running mate -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Sounds like the neighborhood ticket.

WALLACE: Yes. WOODRUFF: All right, Kelly Wallace, thank you.

Well, top Democrats have been scrambling to make glowing statements about Kerry's choice from former President Clinton, as you just heard, on down.


BILL CLINTON, FRM. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I like Senator Edwards a lot. He's smart, he works hard, he's incredibly articulate.

He was on the Intelligence Committee, which I think is a big plus, because, as you know, we're all debating whether the quality of our intelligence is adequate to meet the challenges in the efforts against terrorism.

So I think for all kinds of reasons this is a very good choice and I think that they'll do well.


WOODRUFF: President Clinton speaking today.

Well for more now on what Democrats are saying publicly and privately let's bring in CNN's political editor John Mercurio who's been watching this process all along.

So now we know who it is. What are they saying? What are the Democrats saying, John?

JOHN MERCURIO, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well the reaction so far has not been unanimous. But it's been overwhelmingly positive. Which is hardly a surprising. I mean there was a recent CNN poll that showed that four out of five Democrats surveyed in late June said that they like the idea of a Kerry/Edwards ticket. Certainly, that doesn't mean that everybody likes Edwards, it just means that they like the idea of the two of them running together. They think they have the best chance of defeating George Bush.

Now we just showed Bill Clinton's comments, him weighing in. Bill Clinton's running mate also weighed in earlier, earlier today, saying that he thought that the Kerry/Edwards team, quote, "combines John Kerry's courage and record of outstanding leadership..."

WOODRUFF: This is Al Gore.

MERCURIO: This is Al Gore. I'm sorry.

"... and John Edwards inspiring struggle on behalf of middle- class Americans."

Two key words here to look at. Now, "courage," we've certainly heard a lot about John Kerry's courage and his military background. Sort of a new word I think we're going to be hearing a lot about is the word "struggle" which will remind us all of John Edwards -- his sort of rags to riches, his inspiring life story which is intended, I think, to appeal to middle America.

We also heard a lot about from the Democratic primary opponents of Kerry and Edwards. Howard Dean telling us or telling -- putting out a statement saying that he thought Kerry's pick was, quote, "a smart choice" and he looked forward for campaigning for the ticket this fall.

Even organized labor came out with a statement. Organized labor a big fan of Dick Gephardt in this process. James Hoffa, the president of the Teamsters, who had publicly urged John Kerry to pick Dick Gephardt as his running mate, put out a statement earlier today saying he supported the new ticket, that he looked forward to campaigning against George Bush this fall.

WOODRUFF: So any Democratic detractors, John?

MERCURIO: Well, not a detractor, per se. But Ed Rendell, the governor of Pennsylvania, which is where the announcement took place this morning, was talking about John Edwards just yesterday and what he called about his lack of gravitas. Now he was talking specifically about Edwards' performance in the primaries, not about Kerry's VP deliberations. But still he said that he thought Edwards', quote, "youthful good looks worked against him." We have a tape of what he said. Let's take a look at that.


GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: The truth of the matter is his youthful good looks work against him. He doesn't look 50. He looks like he's in his high or mid 30s...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should be so lucky.

RENDELL: That's right, we should be so lucky.

But the word that the experts would use is "gravitas." Did he look like he was ready to be president? Did he have in his resume enough in his background to have him deal with terrorism or these things?

I think when people look at John Edwards, they say, boy, he's a terrific, bright, young senator. He's going to be something someday. But I don't think they consider the day being now.


MERCURIO: I mean, I'll be interested to see what Ed Rendell's saying today. It might be slightly different than it was yesterday.

WOODRUFF: Yes. He may think someday is sooner than he was saying just yesterday.

All right, so the bottom line, John, we're hearing relatively few Democrats out there making public statements...

MERCURIO: You noticed that. WOODRUFF: ... about John Edwards.

MERCURIO: You noticed that. Yes, the Kerry campaign is trying to maintain some control over the message that's coming out today. Two top aides, Steve Elmendorf and Tad Devine have compiled a surrogate list of only nine Democrat who they're encouraging to go out there today sort of speak on the message of the Kerry/Edwards tickets.

Sources tell us that there are four senators on that list including John Breaux and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Biden of Delaware, Carl Levin of Michigan. There are three governors, Bill Richardson, himself a finalist until last week, Jennifer Granholm of Michigan and Jim Doyle of Wisconsin.

Two other people. North Carolina Congressman Bobby Etheridge. Obviously, a good friend of John Edwards from North Carolina. And former Labor Secretary under Bill Clinton, Alexis Herman, the only African-American on this list.

It's worth noting that there are there are a lot of Democrats who are not on this list. Specifically sources telling me that DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe has declined all media interviews for the day. And this is by design the Kerry campaign again wanting to maintain a sort of a strict control over what message is getting out on behalf of their new ticket.

WOODRUFF: I should add that one of the Democrats who is on that list, Senator John Breaux, is going to be a guest tonight at 8:00 on "PAULA ZAHN NOW." I'm filling in. I'm looking forward to talking to Senator Breaux.

John, thank you very much.

MERCURIO: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

John Kerry and John Edwards have a full 20 days to promote this ticket before the Democratic Convention, making this the earliest VP announcement in a half century. That also gives the GOP plenty of time to try to tear them down, a campaign that already is under way as our White House correspondent Dana Bash reports.


DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the Oval Office, a polite reception.

BUSH: I welcome Senator Edwards on the ticket. The vice president called him early this morning to say, after the announcement was made, to say that he welcomes him to the race, and as do I. And I look forward to a good spirited contest.

BASH: By design, a president above the fray. But his campaign had already been engaged for hours in a coordinated effort to discredit the new Democratic ticket. The opposition research was ready to go, hitting reporters' e- mails minutes after the news came from the other side. This one meant for Bush supporters says Senator Kerry chose his charismatic new partner to close the, quote, "charm gap." Some Republican attacks are familiar, calling Edwards a liberal, out of the mainstream.

Before politics, the North Carolina senator made millions as a trial lawyer. Bush aides say expect a lot more of this.

BUSH: No one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit.

BASH: Another GOP criticism, just six years in a Senate is a weak resume for a post-9/11 world. On this point, the Bush camp thinks Senator Kerry said it best, back when Edwards was his opponent, not his teammate.

KERRY: When I came back from Vietnam in 1969, ladies and gentlemen, I'm not sure if John Edwards was out of diapers then yet or not. I'm totally not sure, I don't know.

BASH: Kerry later clarified the comment saying he was simply pointing to the differences in level of preparedness and experience.

The Kerry camp thinks Edwards has appeal with independent voters. That's also why the Democratic candidate flirted with the idea of asking Republican Senator John McCain to run with him.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: He has not wavered, he has not flinched from the hard choices.

BASH: The Bush camp was ready on that front, too, with an instant ad noting McCain backs Bush.


BASH: All this despite the fact that Republicans continue to remind us that history shows running mates usually don't make that much of a difference. But with the negative public opinion of Vice President Cheney at an all-time high and a Bush team facing a neck and neck race with very few undecided voters, Judy, they're not taking anything for granted, clearly.

WOODRUFF: That sounds like it. Dana Bash, thank you very much, from the White House, following today's big story.

The DNC is trying to counter the Bush camp's cozying up to John McCain by launching its own Web ad.


MCCAIN: Governor Bush wants to give 38 percent of his tax cuts to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) just 1 percent of Americans.


MCCAIN: My friends, I don't think Bill Gates needs a tax cut. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Little hard to hear there. We're sorry about that. But the spot also includes clips of John McCain speaking critically about the Iraq war and about George W. Bush's environmental record.

Today, McCain himself sounded a little amused that both Republicans and Democrats are embracing him, saying, quote, "I'm in campaign ads for both candidates. I'm a uniter, not a divider."

Well, Kerry played it close to the vest until the final hours before his VP announcement. Up next, the head of Kerry's selection team, Jim Johnson, tells us about the process and the new Kerry/Edwards partnership.

Also ahead, a tale of two senators who haven't always seen eye to eye on the issues.

Plus, more of the Bush camp's tough talk about Edwards and how he'll measure up against Dick Cheney.

With 119 days until the election, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.



RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Have you heard anything that, either one of you, that would make it impossible for you to run together as a ticket, if it came to that? Do you have any fundamental, philosophical...


BROWNSTEIN: ... that would make it impossible for to you run together in either order?

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think an Edwards/Kerry ticket would be powerful. And that's the ticket that I think we should have.



LARRY KING, CNN HOST: What a minute...

BROWNSTEIN: Senator Kerry?

KING: Hold it. Are you saying now that if you get this nomination, you will ask him to join you?

EDWARDS: He certainly should be considered. He's a very, very, very good candidate.



WOODRUFF: John Edwards' protests aside, even back in February, people were talking about a Kerry/Edwards ticket. Just a short time ago, I spoke with the man who headed John Kerry's vice presidential selection team. And I started by asking Jim Johnson if the campaign simply came full circle. And if so, what took so long?


JIM JOHNSON, CHAIRMAN, KERRY VICE PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH CMTE.: I guess it is full circle to some extent. You know John Edwards ran a fabulous primary campaign. People all over the country got to know him. They heard him talk about the economy, foreign policy and other issues for almost two years. And in the in the course of that he impressed millions of Americans.

When John Kerry asked me to do this process at the beginning of March he said he wanted to consider a very broad array of people -- which we did. That he wanted to take plenty of time to know the people who might be possible running mate choices. He did. We brought it to a conclusion actually sooner than it's ever been brought to a conclusion before.

So we don't feel way like we're in any way late. But it was a careful process, it was a thorough process, it was deliberate. John Kerry took it very seriously. And now, of course, is extremely pleased with the selection that he's made.

WOODRUFF: So even though a good source tells me that your wife Maxine Isaacs bet somebody back in February it would be John Edwards, it really has been a deliberative process?

JOHNSON: It's been very careful. I didn't have the opportunity to work this closely with John Kerry before. I've known him for, of course, quite a long time. But back and forth every ten days or so for four months now, we've talked about a very wide variety of possible choices, we talked a lot about the issues facing the country. And it was very deliberate.

WOODRUFF: What were the criteria that mattered the most to him?

JOHNSON: Well, what he said at the very beginning, the day after Super Tuesday, is that he said first of all he wanted to pick someone who would be an outstanding president.

Secondly, he wanted to have someone who had clear conviction, who was somebody who really cared about the issues that they talked about. He wanted somebody of accomplishment, somebody who had had a life where they had challenges and they met those challenges. He wanted somebody who could inspire voters, inspire the nation.

And finally he wanted somebody he felt thoroughly compatible with. And so we kept those five items in our sights all the way through. And I think now he feels that John Edwards met those criteria very, very clearly.

WOODRUFF: And outstanding president and yet John Edwards probably has less experience in the public life than any of the other people you were looking at.

JOHNSON: Well as we've learned over the years, there's many dimensions to experience. John Edwards has lived a very rich life. He is concerned about the problems that face average families in America, he's concerned about a strong military presence for our country, he understands the issues that face us.

And as we've seen now many, many times in the past with governors being chosen as a nominee or vice presidents, that it's not necessarily the years of experience, but it's the judgment, it's the conviction, it's the knowledge, it's the understanding, it's the empathy. It's somebody who can really relate to the challenges that our country is faced with.

WOODRUFF: It's been a long time since American voters chose two senators on a ticket to be the president and the vice president. There are those who say that's too much Washington on the ticket.

JOHNSON: Well, I don't think anybody thinks that John Edwards is too much Washington. He's somebody who's been in Washington for just six years, which I think is a good amount of time to be fully prepared. But it's also an amount of time that allows you to feel very close to where you've come from.

He and John Kerry, of course, will be a team. John Kerry has had very substantial international experience, very substantial Washington experience. But I think if you look at all of the challenges facing the country, I think between the two of them, you have a team who address those challenges very convincingly.

WOODRUFF: The press has been reporting, Jim Johnson, that it was down to Edwards, Gephardt and Vilsack. Is that right?

JOHNSON: No, that's not right. The process never really came to a short list. Just last Thursday, when we finished this process and gave John Kerry all of our information for the last time, we were still talking last Thursday about a number of names that haven't been in the press in recent weeks and a number of names in a nobody recorded a meeting with.

And John Kerry kept this very fluid, very open until the very end.

WOODRUFF: So how many phone calls did he make to people to say, "I didn't pick you, I'm sorry, I went with someone else"?

JOHNSON: I think just the right amount.

WOODRUFF: Just the what?

JOHNSON: Just the right amount of phone calls.

WOODRUFF: You're not going to give me the number?

JOHNSON: I'd certainly like to.



WOODRUFF: Jim Johnson, who headed up the vice presidential selection process for John Kerry.

Quickly we want to show you some live pictures here in Washington. This is the home of Senator John Edwards. He has, for all we know and for best knowledge we have, is that he's been inside the house all day long. He should be leaving, shortly though now to head off to Pittsburgh with his wife Elizabeth to join John Kerry, the man who has invited him to be his vice presidential running mate.

When that happens, when John Edwards emerges, we are going to take you there live and show you the pictures.

Well, one ticket, two senators, as you just ahead. Up next, Kerry and Edwards and their Senate voting records. Where they agree, where they disagree.

Also, the contenders who came up short. Reaction to today's big news from some of the other names floated as possible Kerry running mates.



EDWARDS: There are distinctions between Senator Kerry and myself. For example, here in South Carolina, the issue of trade, Senator Kerry and I have very different positions on the issue of trade. Our records clearly demonstrate that. And I think if we want real change in Washington, we need somebody who hasn't been there for 15 or 20 years to bring about that change.


WOODRUFF: Well, as you hear from that interview we did back in February, John Edwards was then eager to spell out his differences with John Kerry during the primary season.

But now that Kerry and Edwards are the first two senators to run on the same ticket since John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson back in 1960, it is safe to assume they will quickly work to smooth over any previous policy disagreements.


WOODRUFF (voice-over): They're in sync on the big issues. Both voted to authorize the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both voted against the president's $87 million funding request for the operations. KERRY: We wanted to wealthiest people in American to help cover the cost of that $87 billion.

EDWARDS: You know, we don't have a plan, we don't know how long we're going to be there. We don't know even an estimate of the long- term cost.

WOODRUFF: Both want to roll back the Bush tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. Though John Kerry identifies that group as those making more than $200,000 a year, while Edwards ups that number to $240,000.

Both support abortion rights and oppose the ban on late-term procedures.

KERRY: We cannot go backwards today.

WOODRUFF: Both oppose gay marriage, but feel it is a matter best left to the states.

EDWARDS: There are differences between us.

WOODRUFF: And so there are. The most glaring gap in the area of trade.

KERRY: We have the same policy on trade.

EDWARDS: My push to trade is fundamentally different than his.

WOODRUFF: Edwards, of course, wasn't a senator during the NAFTA debate. But he made his opposition known during the primaries, using the issue to draw a contrast with Kerry.

EDWARDS: I was against NAFTA and some of the trade agreements that he was for. And I think they've cost us millions of jobs.

WOODRUFF: They're split on other issues too, like the death penalty. Edwards supports it, Kerry opposes.

And a quick comparison of their Senate votes shows Kerry more likely than his new running mate to side with environmental activists.


WOODRUFF: Just a taste of what some of the similarities and the differences are.

Well, first there's the waiting game, then the big announcement. Then the long haul of the campaign. Just ahead, I'll talk with someone who knows how it all feels, senator and former vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman.

Also ahead, how Senator John Edwards' selection is playing with his colleagues up on Capitol Hill.


A short time ago, at his second campaign stop of the day, John Kerry offered more praise for his new running mate, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina. We have not heard from Edwards himself yet today, but Kerry can't say enough about his pick for vice president.


KERRY: I've chosen a man who understands and defends the values of America, a man who's shown courage and conviction as a champion for the middle class, for all Americans' opportunity, not just to stay into it, but to get into it and to do better in America, a man who has shown guts, determination and political skill in his own race for the presidency.


WOODRUFF: Our Candy Crowley is traveling with Senator Kerry. And just a short time ago, I spoke with her. She was in Indianapolis. I started by asking Candy what she's learned about how the decision came about.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, we're told by people in the campaign that about every 10 days, ever since John Kerry appointed Jim Johnson to be head of his vice presidential search team, the two of them talked. John Kerry would ask information, Jim Johnson would provide it. The vetting went on, on the top candidates.

The pivotal point, that is the decision point, seems to have come Thursday during that secret meeting between John Kerry and John Edwards, when Edwards flew up from vacation. That took place at Madeleine Albright's house in Washington, D.C., in Georgetown. That seemed to be the clincher interview for John Kerry, though he didn't seem to tip his hand at that point.

Over the weekend, he talked about it with his wife. By Sunday night, Kerry was sure enough that he told at least one Democratic official that he had settled on his choice.

By Monday, at 6:00 at night, John Kerry himself called the people in charge of putting the words and the decals on the plane, and instructed them, under a signature of quiet and silence, to put the name "Edwards" on the plane. This was four hour before he told, we are told, anybody in his campaign -- 10:30 last night is when he first told the top officials.

WOODRUFF: Boy, he wanted to keep it a secret.

CROWLEY: He did.

WOODRUFF: Candy...

CROWLEY: If we had only known we had to call painters instead of all these people we were calling.

WOODRUFF: Candy, Kerry has talked about wanting someone with experience. Why then Edwards?

CROWLEY: When you ask this of the campaign, you get varying degrees of answers. One of the answers is, look, the calculation's different when you're searching for a vice presidential candidate, that during the campaign, when John Kerry questioned John Edwards' experience in foreign policy and in international affairs, he was speaking comparatively.

This is something they're going to have to work through over the next couple of days, but it's very clear from their answers that what they want John Edwards to do is talk about those domestic issues. This is a guy who seems to connect on levels of jobs, health care, the economy. So that certainly does seem to be the venue in which he's going to be talking. As far as the experience is concerned, they talk about life experience, not Washington experience.


WOODRUFF: Candy Crowley before she got on that plane in Indianapolis to fly back to Pittsburgh.

Well, we turn to "Campaign News Daily" now and some of the Democrats besides John Edwards whose names were floated as potential Kerry running mates. Congressman Gephardt was a strong favorite throughout the selection process. Today, Gephardt said he thinks Edwards will help John Kerry win in November.


GEPHARDT: He's done a great job. If you saw him on the campaign trail, he's very conversant with all the issues. And he will do this job well. I have every confidence in it.


WOODRUFF: Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack was a dark horse candidate to run with Kerry. This morning, he interrupted his New Jersey beach vacation to praise Kerry's choice of John Edwards.


GOV. TOM VILSACK (D), IOWA: We all know John Edwards has been a fighter all his life. He will speak to the values of small town America. He will speak to those who are struggling to reach the American dream. He spoke eloquently during his presidential campaign, and I know he'll do a great job on the campaign trail.


WOODRUFF: Florida's senior senator, Bob Graham, was also given close consideration to be Kerry's running mate. A Democratic source tells CNN that Kerry told Graham this morning that he wants him to be "intimately involved in the campaign, especially on national security issues."

And while she always denied any interest in the job, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was mentioned as a Kerry running mate. In a statement today, she said, "John Kerry has made a great decision for the party and for the American people and has once again shown his tremendous leadership and conviction."

Well, one man who knows what it's like to accept the offer to be vice presidential running mate is Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. He was, of course, Al Gore's running mate four years ago. When I spoke with the senator earlier today, I asked him how he thinks John Edwards feels today.


SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: If the way I felt four years ago around this time is any guide, John Edwards is excited, proud, grateful to have this once in a lifetime opportunity, and ready -- ready to do his best. I remember saying when I heard about it, "Miracles happen." And I'll bet that's exactly the way John Edwards feels today.

WOODRUFF: Was this the best choice that John Kerry could have made?

LIEBERMAN: John Kerry earned the right to make the choice that he felt was best, and I'll tell you this, it's a great choice. John Edwards is ready to be the candidate and the vice president that America needs. He -- he will make the case for a change in leadership in this country for a better future for the country, and that's what this is all about.

WOODRUFF: You said he's ready to be vice president, but is he ready to be president, should he need to step into those shoes, having served so few years in public life?

LIEBERMAN: He is, and I say that from knowing him. John is a person of strength. He knows who he is.

He's a very religious person. He's been through some crises in his own life. He lost a child, a nightmare, and went through all of that and marshaled his strength to go on.

He's -- he's got a vision, and he is -- he is ready to be vice president and president. And that, of course, is the number one characteristic that John Kerry must have had in mind. You've got to have somebody that the American people can trust to be president in case of an emergency. They'll come to know John Edwards and know they can trust him.

WOODRUFF: Senator Lieberman, the Republicans are already, though, saying this is a liberal ticket, the most liberal senator in the -- liberal United States senator has chosen another liberal. Are they vulnerable on that point?

LIEBERMAN: I think the American voters are beyond labels. And John Edwards is, in my opinion, an independent-minded Democrat. He's been involved with a lot of us in the Democratic Leadership Council, new Democratic movement on issues.

I think the voters are going to pay attention to where he stands on given issues. And they're going to see that he's not a knee-jerk anything. He's his own guy, and he loves his country, and is going to serve it well.

WOODRUFF: But he and John Kerry don't agree with you on the conduct of the war in Iraq, on funding that war. Doesn't that say something to you about, you know, some substance differences that could bother a number of voters?

LIEBERMAN: Well, John Edwards did support the war in Iraq. We had some different votes and different opinions along the way, but I think the important thing now is, what do we feel about what should happen from here?

John Kerry, John Edwards, for that matter, George W. Bush, and I, we all want to finish the job successfully, because we know there's a lot on the line for America, for our security, and our principles there. And I'm confident that the Kerry-Edwards ticket, consistent with the position of the -- of the Democratic platform draft that we've just seen come out, is going to be a stay the course until we get it done in Iraq. And to me that's exactly what we need.

WOODRUFF: Senator, why does this ticket, Kerry-Edwards, have a better chance of winning than did Gore-Lieberman four years ago?

LIEBERMAN: Well, it's a very different time. And remember that Al Gore and I said some things about the kind of president we thought George Bush would be if he were elected and about our worries about his commitment to jobs and a better economy, environmental protection, civil liberties, civil rights. And at that point, it was speculation and argument.

Now there's a record, and I think the record says to the American people that they're ready for a change. So I'm going to do all I can to help this ticket get elected and give America a new day.


WOODRUFF: Senator Lieberman also told me that one advantage John Edwards has over him, he said is that Edwards has run a national ticket, he's run -- or rather a national campaign, whereas Joe Lieberman had not done that. He says that's going to serve him very well going into this brutal general election campaign.

Well, lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the Senate in particular, are reacting to John Kerry's choice of John Edwards. The Senate is also taking up an interesting piece of legislation today in light of Kerry's decision. With me now for more on this, our congressional correspondent, Ed Henry.

Ed, hello.


As you can imagine, Senate Democrats are ecstatic about this. They think the party is being unified by the top two candidates in the presidential race on their side. The first time we've had two senators on the ticket since 1960.

Republicans obviously a much different view, and they're pouncing on two different things. The fact that John Edwards was a trial lawyer, they think that's very political unpopular. And also, secondly, Republicans are pointing out that he doesn't have a lot of experience, in particular national security experience in contrast to Dick Cheney, the Republican vice president.

To give you a flavor of what they're saying, here's what Senator Trent Lott said. He said of Edwards, "He's a charming guy who was a suing lawyer. That's S-U-I-N-G lawyer, who dropped by the Senate for four years and thought he was ready to be president. Now he wants to be vice president. What credentials does he have? Zero."

Now, obviously, Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle had a much different view. He thinks that Edwards will help win the White House for Democrats. Daschle also thinks that Edwards will help Democrats take back the Senate, because there are so many, as you know, open southern Senate seats where Daschle thinks Edwards will be deployed.

In fact, those two senators had a phone conversation today and talked about that. And Edwards has agreed to help in some key Senate races. And here's what Daschle said.

He basically said that Edwards has already been on the Senate Intelligence Committee for four years, and he said he thinks that's a lot of experience. Here's what Daschle said.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: I think John Edwards has a lot more Washington experience than George Bush had four years ago. But secondly, it isn't the length of the experience in any case. It's the quality of the experience, it's the quality of the life experience. When you look at what John Edwards has done for working families, for people who have been fighting hard all theirs lives to make ends meet, I can't think of a more qualified candidate than John Edwards.


HENRY: Judy, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was asked off camera this morning pointblank if one term in the Senate qualifies you to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. He said yes, but he had a slightly different view when he went before the cameras a short while ago.


SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: From an experience level, there's going to be a lot of the on-the-job training potentially if -- if he were to ever serve as vice president. And those are the words of John Kerry in terms of an experience level. But anyway, congratulations. It means a lot of activity will play out on the part of the United States Senate in all likelihood, the fact that both their presidential nominee and vice presidential nominee are from this body.


HENRY: Judy, one of those activities, as you mentioned at the top, is the fact that now there's a tort reform bill on the floor of the Senate. Republicans privately saying they plan to make a lot of political points, beat up on the fact that Edwards is a former trial lawyer, and they really want to also use Senator John Kerry's words against Edwards during the presidential primary process, as you heard in that sound bite. They want to use Kerry's words against Edwards now in the general election -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So you mean it's not a coincidence that they scheduled tort reform debate today?

HENRY: No, it is actually a coincidence, but it's a convenient coincidence for Republicans. Senator Frist has been talking about bringing up this tort reform bill for weeks. It just so happens it falls this week. I think it's a happy coincidence for Republicans.

WOODRUFF: OK. Ed Henry, thanks very much.

Southerner John Edwards brings geographic balance to a ticket headed by New Englander John Kerry. Coming up, a look at the states where Edwards could make the most difference.

Later, we look ahead to one of John Edwards' biggest challenges this fall, his debate with Vice President Dick Cheney.

We'll also check in with Republican national chairman Ed Gillespie, as our special expanded edition of INSIDE POLITICS continues.


WOODRUFF: More live pictures of the house of John and Elizabeth Edwards in Washington, D.C., the Georgetown neighborhood. We are told that door is going to open any moment now, and out will walk the senator and his wife, perhaps two or three of their three children, on their way to a car and on their way to the airport to fly to Pittsburgh to join John and Teresa Kerry.

We're waiting for the door to open. Should we wait any longer? I'm told we're going to wait another moment or two.

We know that Senator Edwards was called this morning and given the good word by Senator John Kerry, and told that, after the months of suspense and waiting, that he indeed will be Senator Kerry's running mate. I want to bring in our intrepid Kelly Wallace, who is standing right out front of the John Edwards' home in Washington.

Kelly, you've been out there for some time. I gather the press corps contingent has grown over the day.

WALLACE: It has grown, Judy. You know, it's sort of grown for a few dozen reporters, photojournalists. As I reported to you earlier, gathered on this Georgetown sidewalk, the sort of residents here thought maybe they were going to have a quiet July day, but that is not the case. And a number of neighbors are here as well.

We are expecting, as you said, John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, and also the entire Edwards family, daughter Cate, who we understand recently graduated from Princeton, and then the two very small Edwards' children, Emma Claire, who is six, and Jack, who is four. They will all get out here.

Were not expecting any comments at all, Judy. They will get in this car here, and then they will head to the airport to fly on to Pittsburgh to meet with John Kerry and his wife, Teresa.

I think you mentioned it earlier, Judy, that certainly John Edwards, his wife and their family got used to a lot of attention during the presidential primary. They even had, of course, Secret Service towards the end. But now they're sort of entering a whole new realm.

A whole group of reporters here, members of the international press here as well, watching and trying to capture every move. This will be the first time we will be seeing John Edwards since, of course, he got the call from John Kerry about 7:30 this morning. And he issued a written statement. And here we see -- well, that was Sam Meyers (ph), who is the trip -- going to be the trip director for John Edwards, and he was the trip director for the Edwards' primary as well -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: It's fair to say Senator Edwards, as you said, got used to a lot of press attention during the primaries. And in the last few months, though, he hasn't given too many interviews. He certainly has been out on the trail, helping John Kerry raise money, certainly helping to raise John Kerry's profile, talking about what a great president John Kerry would be. But we haven't seen a great deal of John Edwards in terms of allowing himself to be interviewed as a vice -- potential vice president running mate.

WALLACE: No, that's a very good point. Certainly, you know, we saw that scene, which will really be an interesting scene as we watch this weekend of speculation about who John Kerry would pick. There was John Edwards doing his annual beach walk in North Carolina, flocked by dozens of reporters, some of our colleagues who have been following his ever since he decided to run for president, trying to ask him questions about the vice presidential search -- search process.

He said, I'm not saying anything about that. But he was always willing over these past several months to talk about John Kerry, to talk about his record. Many saying he was certainly publicly lobbying for the job, trying to raise as much money as possible.

And talking to Kerry sources today, Judy, it does seem that that played a big role, certainly when it comes to Kerry advisers. They watched him, they saw what kind of campaigner he is, they saw how he could raise money. John Kerry's own brother, Cam Kerry, was with John Edwards yesterday in Boston yesterday, spent time with him.

He was in North Carolina last week. So you do get this sense that watching John Edwards over the past several months, many of the Kerry advisers and the senator himself deciding he would bring the most energy to this ticket.

WOODRUFF: I'm assuming since we're -- our cameras are trained (ph) on this door, there's no way that they can sneak out the back door. We wouldn't want that to happen.

I'll just add that I was just speaking a minute ago with -- a short time ago with Senator Joe Lieberman, who, of course, was the running mate four years ago with Al Gore, and he said one real advantage that John Edwards will have over what he was able to offer or able to do in 2000, he said John Edwards has run a national campaign, he's been out there campaigning. He knows what it's like to face the crowds, he knows what it's like to face the press scrutiny. He said that is going to be an enormous advantage for him.

I also asked Joe Lieberman, I said, "What do you think he's feeling today?" He said, you know, I described it to someone -- he said, "I felt like somebody had just picked me up and put me on a magic carpet, and I just rode that magic carpet along. He said clearly there were tough days...

WALLACE: There he is.

WOODRUFF: There he is, Senator John Edwards. his wife, Elizabeth, their six-year-son -- I'm sorry, their six-year-old daughter, Emma Claire.

WALLACE: Emma Claire.

WOODRUFF: Their four-year-old son, Jack.


WOODRUFF: And I believe that's Cate, their daughter who just graduated from Princeton, there in the back. Let's see if we can hear something.

WALLACE: Senator Edwards, how do you feel? How are you? Feel good?

Elizabeth Edwards, how are you? Can you come talk to us for a second?

And there you see, Judy, I don't know if you can tell, reporters trying to race up and capture John Edwards.

WOODRUFF: Go ahead and join them. That's what we need to do.

WALLACE: I'm going to go, Judy. You take it from there. OK? I'll talk to you in a second.

WOODRUFF: All right. This lone solitary camera that is CNN's position will sit there and watch. Clearly, the press interested in getting its first glimpse of John Edwards since John Kerry tapped him this morning to be his running mate.

All day long, John Edwards has been in that house, as best we know. We haven't seen him come and go. This is the first time he's emerged. He is on his way to Pittsburgh to join John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry.

He -- John Edwards, along with his wife, Elizabeth, and their three children. So we're going to be watching, and we'll watch and see when they land in Pittsburgh. We'll take a short break. We'll be right back.


WOODRUFF: There he is, the man named by John Kerry just hours ago to be his running mate. John Edwards, the senator from North Carolina, coming out the door of his home in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Elizabeth, their daughter, Cate, their daughter Emma Claire, and their son, Jack, in the arms of Senator Edwards. They're all on their way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to meet up with John Kerry and his wife to spend the night and tomorrow hit the campaign trail.

Well, as we are always reminded, the presidential election isn't one big national election, but 51 separate elections in the individual states and the District of Columbia. For a look at where John Edwards may help John Kerry the most, I'm joined by Chuck Todd. He's the editor-in-chief of "The Hotline," an insider's political briefing produced every day by "The National Journal."

All right. Chuck, John Edwards is a southerner. Is he going to help in the South?

CHUCK TODD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "THE HOTLINE": Well, up until today, only Florida was the true battleground in the South. Now you have to throw in North Carolina; it's his home state. Whether the Kerry campaign wants to target it, they have to. You target your ticket mate's home state.

But there's four other states to keep an eye on: Arkansas, Louisiana, Virginia and Tennessee. I've been talking to some pollsters, and they say, in the next week, if the -- if the Edwards is truly providing a bump in those states, then Kerry-Edwards will actually hold a lead over Bush-Cheney in -- in those states. And in any of those states where they can actually get a lead, look for that state to actually be targeted. If they can't even get a lead after this week of what's going to be incredible press, particularly in the South, then the state's probably not going to ever be in play.

WOODRUFF: So these next few days are really important.

TODD: Very much.

WOODRUFF: All right. Outside the South, Chuck, where else could -- could Edwards help?

TODD: Well, it appears the biggest asset he'll be on the -- on the stump will be in places like Wisconsin and Ohio. First of all, they're two places he campaigned a lot during the primary seasons. Wisconsin primary, Ohio primary were places his whole "two Americas" speech, it hit home. His whole rural outreach, it was -- it was a place where he was comfortable.

Southern Ohio a lot of people describe as another southern state. It's really almost a separate state from northern industrial Ohio, and it's there that maybe the cultural conservatism that his southern accent can portray will be where Edwards can help the ticket quite a bit.

WOODRUFF: All right. Let's look for a moment, then, down the ballot. What about some of these tight Senate races? Can Edwards help the Democrats in those?

TODD: Well, the Democrats certainly think so. I think the happiest people today, outside of John Edwards and Mrs. Edwards are Jon Corzine and David (UNINTELLIGIBLE), the guys running the DSCC. They believe for Erskine Bowles in North Carolina, for Inez Tenenbaum in South Carolina, for Christiane (ph) in Louisiana, conservative Democrats running in Republican-leaning states, that a person with a southern accent on the national ticket will -- could be enough to just carry them over the finish line, give them an extra couple of points of leeway and -- particularly Erskine Bowles.

I mean, this is -- this is something that the North Carolina Democrats are just enormously now confident about. But even in South Carolina, where Inez Tenenbaum doesn't have to be afraid of the national ticket.

WOODRUFF: Of course, this is the glow of the day of the announcement.

TODD: Of course.

WOODRUFF: And we'll see what happens.

TODD: Of course.

WOODRUFF: But as of right now -- Chuck Todd, thank you very much, as always.

TODD: Great. Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And we want to tell you, "The Hotline," an insider's political briefing, is produced daily by "The National Journal." You can go online to for subscription information.

Thanks again, Chuck.

The third half-hour of INSIDE POLITICS begins right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ANNOUNCER: Add a new name to the Democratic ticket.

KERRY: John Edwards is ready for this job.

ANNOUNCER: Where and with whom will the senator from North Carolina help John Kerry in his bid to capture the White House?

The story behind the scenes. How did John Kerry make his decision? Who did he talk to? Who helped him out?

The GOP fires back.

MCCAIN: I am honored to introduce to you the president of the United States, George W. Bush.


ANNOUNCER: We'll speak with the chairman of the Republican Party.



WOODRUFF: Welcome back. Whatever the John Edwards bounce proves to be, if there is one at all, John Kerry has successfully launched a media blitz simply by revealing his running mate's name. Look for the hype that began with this morning's announcement to keep coming in the days ahead as the new Democratic partners set out together on the campaign trail.


KERRY: I can choose only one running mate. And this morning I have done so.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Until the very end, it was a secret, if not a surprise.

KERRY: The next vice president of the United States of America will be Senator John Edwards from North Carolina.

Well, I trust that met with your approval.

WOODRUFF: Far from a dark horse, John Edwards was always a top contender in the Veep stakes. His youthful energy promoted as a balance to Kerry's serious deliberative nature. His selection greeted with across-the-board enthusiasm from Democrats, including some Kerry passed up.

GEPHARDT: I think he can appeal to a lot of Independent voters, or non-voters who have stayed away from voting, and that we need to get to vote.

WOODRUFF: The man of the day was kept under wraps all morning and most of the afternoon, sequestered with his family in his Georgetown mansion, emerging finally to jet off and join Kerry in Pittsburgh.

The presumed nominee, however, stayed on the move keeping a commitment to address African-American ministers in Indianapolis...

KERRY: I've chosen a man who understands and defends the values of America.

WOODRUFF: Before returning to Pennsylvania. Edwards and his family will spend the night at the Heinz-Kerry farm outside Pittsburgh. The running mates make their debut tomorrow and embark on a cross-country swing that will take them to Ohio tomorrow, Florida and New York on Thursday, West Virginia and New Mexico on Friday, wrapping up over the weekend in Edwards' home state of North Carolina.

KERRY: Let's go out and make it happen together.

WOODRUFF: And then it's just a two-week sprint to the convention in Boston.


WOODRUFF: A reminder today for Kerry and Edwards of just how close the presidential race appears to be. A new American Research Group poll that was taken before Kerry announced his selection of Edwards shows the Democrat with a slim four-point lead over President Bush in a head-to-head matchup. And Kerry is just three points ahead of Bush in a three-way race, including Ralph Nader. Those numbers can serve as a baseline as we wait to see how Kerry's choice of Edwards influences the horse race.

Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider has been studying Edwards and the primary season's exit polls.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): What did we learn about John Edwards from the Democratic primaries? We learned that he's a happy warrior. Something not often said about John Kerry.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My campaign is about something bigger and stronger. It's about an uplifting positive vision for America.

SCHNEIDER: Edwards' positive campaign resonated with Democratic primary voters. Let's look at Wisconsin, the showdown state in the primaries and a crucial Midwestern swing state in November. Edwards was the runaway favorite among Wisconsin voters who said they wanted a positive message. John Kerry is a New England patrician, hardly a populist. While Edwards is often compared with Bill Clinton as a candidate with a common touch.

EDWARDS: I want to be a champion for the people I have fought for all my life. Regular people. SCHNEIDER: The top choice of Wisconsin primary voters looking for a candidate who cares about people, John Edwards. Edwards' message is one of economic populism.

EDWARDS: Closing the great divides that exist between America. Those who live lives of privilege and never have to worry about a thing and then most of America.

SCHNEIDER: Sure enough, Wisconsin Democrats who said their main concern was the economy and jobs went for Edwards. Then how come Kerry won the Wisconsin primary. Same reason he won almost every other primary. Voters felt Kerry had the right experience. Edwards tried to make a virtue of his inexperience by running as a Washington outsider but Democrats weren't looking for an outsider this year. They were looking for someone who could beat George W. Bush. Questions were raised about Edwards' ability to do that.

MICHELE NORRIS, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, JANUARY 4: With less than one full Senate term under your belt, how do you convince American voters that you can go head-to-head with the Bush foreign policy team?

SCHNEIDER: He couldn't. Wisconsin Democrats looking for a candidate who could beat Bush went 3-1 for Kerry over Edwards. That's why Edwards is not at the top of the ticket. But his lack of experience may not matter so much in the No. 2 spot.


SCHNEIDER: What does the choice of Edwards say about Kerry? It says Kerry is secure enough that he does not feel threatened by a young, attractive, ambitious running mate who is strong where Kerry is weak -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And that's secure.

SCHNEIDER: That's secure.

WOODRUFF: OK. Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

The Republican National Committee chairman no doubt sees Kerry's choice of Edwards in a different light. Up next, Ed Gillespie joins us with his take on the Kerry-Edwards ticket and whether Republicans are feeling threatened.

Plus, "CROSSFIRE" duo Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson are ready to take on the Kerry-Edwards pairing and one another.

And the pundits and prognosticators who got it wrong and right.


WOODRUFF: As we've been reporting, it didn't take long for Republicans to respond to the news that John Edwards would be John Kerry's running mate. When I spoke with the Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie a little while ago, I started by asking him if he thinks Edwards will help or hurt John Kerry. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED GILLESPIE, RNC CHAIRMAN: Well, you know, this is a pick that reinforces the clear choices that are going to confront the American people in November. The fact is Senator Kerry, according to the "National Journal's" analysis of votes cast in the last session of Congress was the most left of center senator in the United States Senate.

John Edwards was not far behind. He was the fourth most liberal senator in the United States Senate. He voted against repealing the marriage penalty. He's voted against the child tax credit. He voted against the prescription drug benefits. He voted against funding for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. So it's a choice that says, you know what, we're going to run on, you know, higher taxes and these issues. We're welcoming the debate.

WOODRUFF: Well, that's your argument. John Kerry today said John Edwards is somebody who's going to reach out to voters in the heartland of America, small town America, swing voters, voters who haven't made their minds up yet.

GILLESPIE: I think that Senator Kerry was probably more accurate earlier in the year when he said that John Kerry (sic) is somebody is somebody who can't carry his own state -- I'm sorry, John Edwards is someone who can't even carry his own state of North Carolina. So I think he was more accurate then than he is today.

WOODRUFF: You are already out there with an ad, the Bush-Cheney campaign, Republicans out there with an ad talking about John McCain. And yet John McCain is somebody who has said he's not going to criticize John Kerry or John Edwards. They are friends of his. Could this backfire?

GILLESPIE: The ad that featured Senator McCain that the Bush- Cheney campaign is running today is an ad where Senator McCain rightly talks about the president's strong resolve in leadership in winning the war on terror. It's very laudatory on the president. It's not any way critical of Senator Kerry, I think it's a great spot and I'm glad that it's out.

WOODRUFF: So you don't think it could backfire just by the fact that John McCain is not out there campaigning everyday with George W. Bush?

GILLESPIE: John McCain has been clear in his support for President Bush. And that's why the ad is up.

WOODRUFF: This election is -- let me just quote something. He said -- what Senator Kerry said this morning, he said, I can't tell you how proud I am to have John Edwards on my team or how eager I am for the day this fall when he stands up for our vision and goes toe- to-toe with Dick Cheney. What is that debate going to be like?

GILLESPIE: Well, look, we've got to give John Edwards credit. This is someone who has made millions and millions of dollars through his skillful -- rhetorical skills, that's redundant, "skillful skills."


GILLESPIE: But through his rhetoric in the courtroom, and pressing the case on behalf of his clients very forceful orator, probably one of the best. And Kerry, too, two of the probably best debaters on one ticket maybe in the history of the country. So I give him credit there. But what he says I think is not going to resonate with the American people because he's wrong on the policies.

WOODRUFF: Some speculation in the Republican Party and in the Democratic Party about whether Dick Cheney is staying on the ticket. Any doubt in your mind?

GILLESPIE: No doubt in my mind at all. And I love the difference here. The fact is that John Kerry said initially that he was going to pick a running mate whose only qualification would be whether or not he could serve as president of the United States.

He picked someone that he said earlier in the year that we couldn't risk on-the-job training on national security issues. He said this is somebody who only has four years experience in the Senate, no international relations experience, no military experience. And then picked him apparently after conducting some polling. Once again, putting politics ahead of principle.

The fact is that Dick Cheney has a wealth of experience he brings to bear in the position of vice president. He is a huge asset to our ticket. And I think that it's going to be a great -- one more example of a clear difference for the American people here.

WOODRUFF: So was the choice of John Edwards a choice that weakens John Kerry?

GILLESPIE: You know, I hate to -- the fact is, I'm not sure at the end of the day how much any vice presidential candidate means to the ticket. People go in and they vote based on John Kerry or George W. Bush. And that's how they're going to base their decisions.

But I do think that john Edwards doesn't bring much to the table in terms of geographic improvement, as Senator Kerry himself said, he can't carry his own state. He's no more likely to deliver North Carolina then Al Gore was to carry Tennessee for the Democrats in 2000. And he doesn't bring much in terms of ideological balance. You have the most liberal senator and the fourth most liberal senator, both to the left of Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy.

So other than trying to help them close the charm gap, I'm not sure that he brings a whole lot to bear. But I'm also not sure it matters at the end of the day.

WOODRUFF: Speaking for the Republicans, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ed Gillespie.

Well, for more now on the Republican reaction, let's go live to our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. She has been digging on the VP story as well as reaction.

Suzanne, what are you learning?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, very interesting strategy that's unfolding here. What this allows the White House to do is really appear above the fray. You hear from the Republican National Committee rather harsh rhetoric earlier today, as well as from the Bush-Cheney camp.

This was released earlier, it's all about Edwards. It says, who is he? It calls him a disingenuous, unaccomplished liberal. Also the Bush-Cheney camp added their own talking points to their supporters, releasing statements to the tune of one of them saying here, one the most divisive and out of the mainstream tickets for president. They also said that Senator Edwards delivers pessimism with a southern drawl and a smile. Now, these kind of comments allowed President Bush earlier today, when asked about this, simply to appear above all of this, saying that he congratulates Edwards on the nomination.

And that also he brought up the point that Vice President Dick Cheney called Edwards just after 10:00 this morning to say that he welcomes that debate. That is going to be taking place October 5 in Cleveland. That conversation was described as brief and cordial. So it really is kind of a two-pronged strategy here.

Also, of course, you have mentioned before that you have this new ad that came out today, this using Senator John McCain. It is called "First Choice." And essentially they make the point, the argument here that you have someone like Senator John McCain, a Republican who was courted by Kerry, who ultimately ended up campaigning with President Bush just two weeks ago, that this is someone who really wins the -- has a great deal of appeal for the swing voters. Who's a maverick and a moderate, and who is on President Bush's side.

So those are the two things that they are doing here. They're on the attack. And yet they are letting some of the surrogates speak for them and use those harsher words, and at same time they are bringing up the fact that they believe that Senator McCain is a greater asset for them than perhaps Edwards is for Kerry.

WOODRUFF: Interesting point, Suzanne. You're right, they do have the RNC and the Bush-Cheney campaign to do some of the rougher tactics, if you will. All right, Suzanne, thank you very much.

Coming up, a newspaper headline that will be a must-have for political junkies. But next, we'll put John Kerry's choice of a running mate into the "CROSSFIRE."


WOODRUFF: This was the scene just about 30 minutes ago here in Washington, D.C. Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, his wife Elizabeth, their three children, Cate and Jack and Emma Claire, heading out of their home on their way to Pittsburgh where they will meet up with John Kerry. Edwards, of course, got that phone call this morning. He has been a happy man ever since. You can see the smile on his face. The five of them heading off to Pittsburgh. And they'll be trailed by the press. We'll be picking him in Pittsburgh. He'll be joining Senator Kerry at the farm. And we'll see them, I guess, in person for the first time together tomorrow morning.

Back during the primary season, John Edwards and John Kerry didn't always say the most flattering things about one another. Further proof you need to be careful of what you say in politics. But that is one rule that doesn't always happen on CNN's "CROSSFIRE."

Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson join me now from George Washington University. All right, Tucker, I'm dying to know, was this a smart move on John Kerry's part?

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": I think it was a pretty smart move. I think in picking John Edwards, Kerry betrayed some of the parties' principles. This is not a ticket that looks like America by any stretch. I would like to hear him explain why he didn't pick Carol Moseley Braun who also ran against him, who has more foreign policy experience of course than John Edwards. Honestly, I'd like to hear the explanation.

But Edwards, truly, is a pretty appealing guy. He's an excellent speaker. He's just got a winning personality. He's from the south. He can lay a more plausible claim to having come from the heartland of America. Yes, I think it's a pretty good choice.

WOODRUFF: So if that's the case, Paul, what are the Republicans going to go after him on?

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": As you know, they didn't even wait 30 minutes before the politics of personal destruction kicked off. They put out a 28-page dossier accusing him of being, Senator Edwards that is, of being disingenuous. Probably a word frankly too big for President Bush to use. But the Republican committee was confident in their usage of it. If I were them, and were watching the president's credibility collapsing in the polls, I don't think I'd accuse anyone else of being disingenuous. I think the better strategy is what Dick Cheney himself did personally. The reports are that he called John Edwards, personally welcomed him to the race and hoped to have an energetic debate. That's a better for them to handle this.

WOODRUFF: Tucker, when you think about the kind of campaigner that John Edwards is, is that really going to make a difference this year? I mean, Dick Cheney is hardly exciting on the campaign trail, but he was a plus for George W. Bush.

CARLSON: Yes. And I think -- no, you're right. Of course, John Edwards is a more talented campaigner than Dick Cheney is or will ever be. But I wonder if that's the point. And this is sort of -- I think the key problem potentially with John Edwards and that is he's not in a good place to address questions of foreign policy. And this election is going to be about, of course, matters outside our borders. The threat of terrorism, the war in Iraq. That's what this is about. It's not about jobs, the economy. It's not all those populist issues that apparently the Kerry campaign still imagines it's going to run a campaign on.

So I think it's a little bit of a weird choice in that way. Cosmetically it's appealing. He's not a terrifying guy, liberal as he is in real life. He is sort of, again, reassuring but yes, it is sort of weird from a strategic point of view.

WOODRUFF: Paul, how do you answer that?

BEGALA: I think that actually Edwards has terrific bona fides on national security. He's been on the intelligence committee now for four, five year and in fact, today's "New York Times," we've kind of overlooked it, wrote a fascinating story that suggests that the Bush administration actually had intelligence that said that Saddam Hussein had already taken down his weapons program before the war.

Now, I would like to see John Edwards from the intelligence committee debate Dick Cheney who some people have accused of trying to massage and pressure the intelligence community. So I like that matchup a lot. I think that Edwards can more than hold his own on national security issues.

CARLSON: You just said he has terrific bona fides on national security. That's such a gross and almost absurd overstatement. I don't think people will buy it.

BEGALA: I mean compared to George W. Bush at this stage.

CARLSON: And that's a fair point. George W. Bush was elected literally in another era of American history. It was a completely different world then. If the election, you know, were held, again, as it is, but if it were held with a clean slate, of course, on both sides you would find candidates with richer foreign policy backgrounds.

WOODRUFF: I want to ask you both about Nader. Paul, a lot of Democrats have been worried a lot about Ralph Nader and the effect he's going to have on John Kerry. How does the choice of John Edwards affect that?

BEGALA: Well, interestingly Nader had called on Kerry to name Senator Edwards. That probably hurt Edwards' chances. He's probably named despite the fact that Mr. Nader had called for him. But it's very hard now for Nader to make the case that there's no big difference between the Kerry-Edwards ticket and the Bush-Cheney ticket. That's the heart of Nader's message is that there's not a dime's worth of difference between the two parties, as George Wallace used to say in another era. He can't make that argument now when the man he said was best to be vice presidential candidate now is.

CARLSON: But in fact it's simply true. There isn't much difference on the key issue, and that is Iraq. That is this campaign is Iraq. That's what it's about. And there isn't much difference between the Kerry plan and the Bush plan. I wish there were, but there isn't.

WOODRUFF: Well, we're going to leave it there. I think we're going to hear a whole lot more from both of you starting in about five minutes. Thank you both. Paul Begala, Tucker Carlson, the "CROSSFIRE" guys. They're coming up.

Thank you. And just ahead, it was a dramatic headline. Unfortunately it was wrong. A New York tabloid tries to be first with John Kerry's choice of a running mate but instead is forced to offer an apology.


WOODRUFF: John Kerry's choice of John Edwards proves once again, that political predictions can be a tricky business. You may recall that we sponsored an online Veep stakes game a while back on It was patterned after the NCAA basketball brackets.

Well, you, our viewers and our web users, correctly predicted John Edwards would be John Kerry's running mate. This morning, however, the "New York Post" thought it had an exclusive, when it hit the streets with this headline announcing that Congressman Dick Gephardt would be Kerry's choice. The newspaper's editor has issued an apology. We are told that copies of today's "Post" are already on eBay.

Well, that's it for this inside -- expanded edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Thank you for joining us. I'll be back at 8:00 tonight filling in for "PAULA ZAHN NOW." I'm going to be interviewing, among others, Senator John Breaux of Louisiana and the Reverend Al Sharpton. I'll see you then. Right now, "CROSSFIRE."


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