John Kerry, the Massachusetts Senator and Democratic Party challenger to President George W. Bush, telephoned me while I lived in Washington during the first half of this year… and trust him to call when I'd just ducked out!
Luckily my answering machine caught his message.
"If you want us to replace George Bush, press 1 and listen carefully. To show us how strongly you feel about sending George Bush back to Texas, please press 1 now."
At the time, speculation was rife about Kerry's choice for a Vice-Presidential running mate. A dozen or more names were bandied around, including a former NATO general, a number of state governors, various congressional luminaries - even a prominent Republican.
Who knows, I thought, maybe he wanted to confound all the pundits and pick some obscure Australian? Press 1 to be Vice-President. You know - to illustrate his international credentials.
But then again, there is that whole Constitutional requirement for a President to be American born. What would happen if Kerry became the second JFK to fall victim to an assassin? This would create a messy succession.
He probably just wanted money.
Kerry recently made the long anticipated announcement of his running mate for the November election. John Edwards, a Senate colleague from North Carolina, will square off on the "Veep" ballot against incumbent Dick Cheney.
Affable, smiling and youthful, Edwards looks the model of an American politician on the campaign trail. He came to prominence earlier this year in the Democratic primaries, running against Kerry for the party's presidential nomination. Adopting a populist style, he littered his speeches with the sort of lofty rhetoric expected from US leaders.
Having served just one five-year term in the Senate, he surprised a few people with his apparent hurry for the White House. While his campaign stuttered initially because he was unable to match the all-important fundraising skills of Kerry or the agitator Howard Dean, Edwards managed to hang in there in the race and emerge a surprise runner-up to Kerry.
This was largely credited to his positive style. He refused to engage in personal slanging matches with the other candidates, instead focusing on his key, albeit superficial message.
The country is unfairly divided, Edwards claimed. Over and over he pointed toward "two Americas"; one wealthy and coddled by the Bush administration, the other comprising the majority of "ordinary folks" struggling in the mainstream. He spoke often about his father, a poor mill-worker, as the example of the forgotten middle-classes.
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