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July 06, 2004

Thought Dump

Some thoughts on the Edwards pick.

1.) Campaigns aren't in the business of peddling doubt, but even so the Edwards choice is the pick of a strong, confident campaign, one that figures it already has the rank and file of the Democratic Party already sewn up. Gephardt is the guy you pick if there's trouble in the ranks. Edwards is the pick when a campaign can afford to indulge in intangibles.

2.) Chosen by an older candidate in desperate need of a charisma injection, Edwards is young, inexperienced, has a pretty face, and is considered a lightweight on many issues of the day. He's Dan Quayle! But, since the press loves him, he's Dan Quayle without the baggage, which makes him a force to be reckoned with. Imagine where Dan would be today without the constant negative press, and you'll see what a danger Edwards poses--especially as he doesn't appear to have Dan's gift for gaffe.

3.) Look for the Kerry campaign to send Edwards out with a message only slightly altered from his "Two Americas" stump speech of the primaries. Edwards is seen as a youth magnet, so look for that alteration to include lots of references to the "future".....of America, the world, and, if Edwards has any sense, the Democratic Party. Just because the Kerry campaign is convinced that it's going to win come November doesn't mean it actually will, and Edwards is in a perfect position to challenge Hilary as the heir apparent if Kerry stumbles--so much so that I'm willing to lay odds that William Safire will, over the next month or so, cast the Edwards pick as Kerry's payback for Wesley Clark, the Clinton stalking horse of the Democratic primaries.

4.) In 1992, after Clinton and Gore spent a great deal of time in North Carolina, Bush-Quayle defeated them by less than 21,000 votes. In 1996, Bill and Al wrote off the state and lost by over 100,000 votes. Al Gore lost the state by nearly 400,000 votes in 2000; though for some reason CNN took forever to call the state for Bush.

Those numbers are why the conventional wisdom holds that N.C. will remain in the Republican column come November no matter what Edwards does. But the conventional wisdom overlooks how close Clinton-Gore actually came in 1992. In the last election where the Democrats actually made an effort, N.C. almost flipped. Had Clinton picked former guv. Jim Hunt, it probably would have.

Never underestimate the power of the Native Son, especially in a media driven age. "What Sen. Edwards is doing today" is going to become a daily feature on every local news channel in the state from now until Election Day. The Kerry campaign couldn't buy that kind of instate publicity if it spent every dollar it had here.

5.) Big egos look for big effects, and breaking up the Solid South is a big effect. Look for the Kerry campaign to use Edwards to open a second front in the South--not only in North Carolina, where there's a strong Democratic party and Governor to support him, but in other southern states where a southern boy strategy can be applied against the Republicans--Louisiana for sure, and probably Virginia and Georgia as well. Not Arkansas--the Big Dawg will take care of that, if only to stick a thumb in eye of Al Gore for the snubs of 2000. Everyone will go to Florida, but trips to Tallahassee are a two-fer even if North Florida is reliably conservative, so there should be more Democratic activity there than in years past. Edward's hardscrabble upbringing also makes him a natural for West Virginia, a state that used to be as reliably Democratic in presidential elections as North Carolina is Republican. I figure the Kerry campaign calculates our boy Johnny is worth 25 electoral votes in some combination or other.

6.) If, come late October, Edwards is still campaigning in the South, then George Bush is deep trouble. If, on the other hand, he's spending most of his time in battleground states outside the South in the month before Election Day, then it's the Kerry campaign that's getting ready to take one on the chin.

7. The last time the Democrats ran two incumbent Senators in a presidential Election, they won--nationally and in North Carolina.


1. The more I think about it, the more I'm willing to bet that Edwards guaranteed North Carolina. What's he got to lose?

2. Edwards has been hailed as "Clinton without the pants problem" for months now. We'll know for sure by the end of the year.

Posted by Bigwig at July 6, 2004 10:54 PM | TrackBack
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Agree with your comment about Edward's pick as Kerry's payback for Clark. Should be an interesting five months.


Posted by: mcat at July 7, 2004 02:46 AM

Good analogy to Quayle. I beat Edwards can spell potato!!

Posted by: Russell at July 7, 2004 07:58 AM

Conventional wisdom would dictate that if you're a woman going out to the bar to pick up a guy, you don't take a friend who is prettier than you are. Since when did wisdom and politics mix? Edwards is so pretty that he doesn't even need a makeover from the "Queer Eye" guys.

I don't think a Massachusetts senator with a billionaire wife can shoot a few clay pigeons and pick a southern VP and suddenly get some Southern states to vote for him. Gephardt would have been more useful in the Midwest states and with the labor unions, but then the ticket would have been nicknamed "Dull and Duller." Gephardt's flat, lifeless voice is like...mine. He also comes across as the kind of guy who still uses "swell" as an adjective--as in, "That Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 312 of Northern Missouruh square dance was sure swell."

I've already heard the hackneyed Republican lines that Edwards has no experience and he's a trial lawyer. Those arguments are a waste of time. If I send a check to the RNC, I hope they can spend it on better arguments than those. It seems that people are either "Washington insiders" or "inexperienced"--how much experience is enough or too much? Sometimes a lack of experience allows for creativity and new ideas, but it can also lead to embarrassing political beatdowns. A lot of experience can make for a smooth, professional operation, or just a continuation of the same old ideas that haven't worked for 30 years. As for being a lawyer, nobody really likes lawyers...until they need one. Kerry/Edwards and Bush/Cheney all have records that we can judge, so why screw around with these aesthetic arguments?

Posted by: Kevin at July 7, 2004 08:19 AM

I disagree with your first point. If the campaign was confident of being elected, Gephart would have been the choice. Choosing a supremely experienced legislator who knows how to get legislation successfully passed would demonstrate their emphasis on governing. (ala' LBJ)

Choosing a personality to campaign well shows they are not as confident as they might be. Edwards is the choice when the campaign needs life. Gepahrdt would have been the choice if the campaign was focused on running things when they win.

Posted by: oceanguy at July 7, 2004 08:52 AM

"Good analogy to Quayle. I beat Edwards can spell potato!!"

Thank you, Russell, for demonstrating Captain Holly's First Law of the Internet: When you flame someone else for poor spelling, you inevitably misspell a word yourself.

As for Edwards, I have just three words to say:

Millionaire Trial Lawyer.

Despite all the spin to the contrary, that is going to hurt the Democrats, especially in the South.

And being described as "Clinton without the pants problem" is not a compliment. People don't dislike Clinton because he was (is) an adulterer; they despise him because he is a flat-out, bald-faced liar.

Posted by: Captain Holly at July 7, 2004 10:53 AM

Edwards lost North Carolina in the primaries. The primaries.

He couldn't carry the Democrats in his home state.

What do they know that we don't?

Posted by: jack at July 7, 2004 11:39 AM

Captain Holly: I ain't in the bidness of predicting the future, but I've been studying voters as an outgrowth of my (newspaper) job for 20 years, and I frankly don't see the downside to the trial-lawyer thing for Edwards. Some of the nation's most generous juries come from red-state country, particularly the South. (If you ever have to sue a large corporation in federal court, try to find some reason to do it in Alabama.)

Jack: Take this with a grain of salt because I'm a Republican, but by the time North Carolina's primary rolled around, the race had been over for weeks.

Posted by: Lex at July 7, 2004 02:41 PM

The downside comes from alienating a group that Kerry is trying to placate: Gun owners. And as Al Gore found out, they are a key constituency in the South.

Virtually every gun owner I know detests lawyers because of the transparent attempt by gun control advocates to sue gun manufacturers into oblivion. Even Tom Daschle felt compelled to support the bill prohibiting such lawsuits. And if you'll notice, most Southern Democrats (with the notable exception of Edwards) did also.

Most people (myself included) do not have a problem with the tort system being used to right an identifiable, tangible wrong. They have a big problem with the tort system being used to circumvent the legislative process. Edwards symbolizes that.

Posted by: Captain Holly at July 8, 2004 10:05 AM

Great, Thanks

Posted by: celebs at July 16, 2004 07:55 PM
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