02/09/04 — Surprise:Edwards’ vice presidential prospects looking brighter

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Surprise:Edwards’ vice presidential prospects looking brighter

Many North Carolinians scoffed when we began to notice the hints that Democratic Sen. John Edwards would try to be elected president.

Our reaction to the news was much like that of Billy Carter of Plains, Ga., when told that his brother Jimmy was running for president.

“President of what?” asked Billy.

The United States, of course — and, furthermore, he won. Elections can deliver some huge surprises.

We have to admit it. John Edwards has gone much further than we expected of a person who, at the time of his announcement, was only part-way through his first term in the U.S. Senate, his first political office. And after the announcement, he has gained little additional experience in the Senate, spending most of his time on the campaign. That lack of government experience is being noticeably unnoticed by many voters.

Many North Carolinians have suspected for a long time that he was trying to establish a situation in which he would be invited onto the Democratic ticket as the vice presidential candidate. Edwards denied it. They always do.

Edwards has been singularly successful at nearly everything he has tried to do, and if getting the second spot on the ballot was really his intention, he appears to have set himself up for it.

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry has taken the lead in the race for the nomination by winning 10 of the 12 states where there have been primaries or caucuses. But he lost to Edwards last week in South Carolina, the only Southern state that has had a primary.

Had he taken South Carolina, it would have been a knockout punch for Edwards’ campaign. But even with the support of the state’s only black congressman, James Plyler, Kerry couldn’t deliver the coup de grace.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the Tennessee and Virginia primaries Tuesday. If Kerry fails to show favor there, he will need someone on his ticket — assuming he is nominated — with strong appeal in the South. Edwards would fill the bill nicely.

Nothing is assured because anything can happen between now and convention time. Who knows? Edwards might still pull it out. But at the moment a Kerry-Edwards ticket sounds pretty strong.

And if it succeeded, Edwards probably would have the inside track for the nomination to succeed President Kerry.

Published in Editorials on February 9, 2004 12:00 PM