Leahy Backs Edwards as Kerry’s Potential Running Mate

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(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy says he believes that North Carolina Senator John Edwards would make the strongest vice presidential candidate for the Democratic ticket this fall. Leahy says Edwards has the best potential to help Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in a number of key battleground states.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) It’s widely believed that Kerry will announce his selection of a vice presidential running mate by the middle of next week, three weeks before the start of the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Leahy thinks the selection process has basically come down to two people: North Carolina Senator John Edwards and Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt.

Both Edwards and Gephardt actively sought the party’s presidential nomination this year. Leahy says that while Kerry and Gephardt are very close personal friends, he feels adding Edwards to the ticket would give the Democrats their strongest possible team for the November election.

(Leahy) “It’s not going to make any difference in states where John Kerry is way ahead or way behind. I’m thinking of those half-dozen states where it could go one or two points either way. I think that Edwards has the ability to really get people fired up and ready to go.”

(Kinzel) Conventional political wisdom usually calls for the presidential nominee to pick a running mate who can help deliver their home state to the ticket. Leahy doesn’t think this situation applies this year.

(Leahy) “I can’t think of any candidate that can just say, ‘Okay, I’m going to bring you this one key state.’ I don’t think there’s anybody that falls in that category.”

(Kinzel) Meanwhile as Kerry ponders the selection of a running mate, a draft Howard Dean for vice president movement has sprung up. Becca Doten is an organizer of the national draft Dean for VP committee. She says adding Dean to the ticket will help blunt the impact of independent candidate Ralph Nader and will bring some passion to the race:

(Doten) “To get the Kerry campaign to think big and think bold for awhile. They were talking about a unity ticket: John McCain. Well, John McCain is a Republican. Why not a unity ticket with the man who can bridge the gap between disaffected base voters, the Nader voter and moderate Republicans? And that to me is the real unity ticket, and Kerry-Dean is the strongest ticket we could put out there.”

(Kinzel) If Kerry doesn’t select Dean as his running mate, Doten says her organization will petition delegates at the National Convention to support the selection of Dean as the party’s vice presidential Nominee.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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