Broader Democrat ticket? Not by much

Democratic voters looking for a bit of geographical and philosophical diversity on the presidential ticket didn't get much this week in the selection of John Edwards as the running mate for John Kerry.

If anything, the ticket became more liberal and more eastern with Edwards, a South Carolina native, joining the Massachusetts senator.

For westerners, that means George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, with their Texas and Wyoming roots, respectively, have a far more identifiable rapport and a familiarity with the kind of regional issues likely to resonate with voters - use of public lands and forests, water, immigration, growth and energy.

What the Democratic ticket did get is a boost of charisma and enthusiasm. Edwards proved himself to be a formidable campaigner in the early stages of the Democratic primaries, distinguishing himself from Kerry's dry and long-winded speeches.

The Democrats also picked up a Southern, small-town-raised trial lawyer whose campaign emphasis on helping the common man should provide a sharp contrast to the big-business image of Bush and Cheney.

And although all four of the candidates have plenty of money, Edwards will be seen as the one who did the most to pull himself up by his bootstraps.

But Edwards' lack of political experience - he's a one-term senator - will be seen as a serious shortcoming on the national scene. His shallow background on foreign affairs, as well as issues in the West mentioned earlier, won''t do much to buck up confidence in Kerry as voters decide who should occupy the top two offices in the country.

Republicans must surely be relieved Kerry didn't pick someone who could shore up his most glaring weaknesses. Edwards may excite the Democratic Party faithful, but he won't get far in persuading the undecided.


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