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CNN AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Edwards Expected to Form Presidential Exploratory Committee

Aired January 1, 2003 - 08:23   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN has learned that North Carolina Senator John Edwards is expected to form a presidential exploratory committee tomorrow. That move would allow Edwards to raise money without officially announcing his candidacy.
Candy Crowley has more on this from Washington -- Candy, happy new year.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

KAGAN: And this Democratic field is looking more crowded than the stores the day after Christmas.

CROWLEY: It is. You know, ever since Al Gore got out, a lot of people have been looking at it. But I have to tell you that John Edwards is not a surprise. He is probably the least experienced in what we expect to be the Democratic field, but he's been the most obvious about his intentions.

On the face of it, there certainly is a lot that is appealing about John Edwards. He is young, 50 this year. He's charismatic. He's a good one-on-one campaigner. He is, has a story to tell, as they say. He was the first in his family to go to college. He is a self-made multi-millionaire many times over. So he has his own money, in fact, funded his first campaign for the Senate.

Edwards is basically a liberal, a liberal voting record, but more recently he has sort of moved a little bit more towards the center. He is a sort of, is a very articulate man. He was a trial lawyer, a personal injury lawyer, which is where he made his fortune. So he is very good at giving his, giving floor speeches. He was front and center during the Monica Lewinsky impeachment trial of Bill Clinton and was considered very articulate during that time. So he's very good at public speaking.

On the down side, Daryn, he was not given very high marks for a couple of appearances earlier this year. So his greenness shows, but he is nonetheless in the race, we think.

KAGAN: Also, he would be the only Southerner, I think, so far of what might be a crowded field. And that works well in presidential politics for Democrats.

CROWLEY: Well, it certainly helps. They need some help in the South. Southerners, as we know, the latest being Bill Clinton, have done quite well for the Democratic Party on the national level. But they've had some problems in the South. And it has gotten increasingly Republican and it's very, very hard for a Democrat to win nationwide unless they can pull some of the votes from the South.

If Senator Bob Graham of Florida gets in, if you consider Florida a Southern state -- some people don't -- that, of course, is another thing.

But, yes, he does have very Southern roots, born in South Carolina, spent all of his college years in North Carolina and is a resident there now in Raleigh.

KAGAN: We want to talk about some possible knocks against him. You mentioned his inexperience. We've seen in the past, as recently as George W. Bush being elected, that somebody without a lot of national experience can get elected. But in these times, Candy, when there is terror threat of war, do you think Americans would really go for somebody who does not have that much public experience?

CROWLEY: You know, one of the great things about covering politics is you're never really quite sure what's going to mesh with the times. If you look at it you say well, George Bush took over at a time when the world was relatively peaceful. It was pre-9/11, pre all this vulnerability. So, yes, I think you can make a good case that at this point what Americans might be looking for is someone with a little more experience. And he's, you know, there's some heavyweights in this race. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who has a lot of credentials. We expect Joe Lieberman. We expect maybe Tom Daschle. So there are a lot of people with very heavy resumes.

Now, the question is do you love that fresh face, which John Edwards is, or do you look and say, you know, but this guy really has this big long resume? Resumes don't always work in politics. You can ask George Bush the father.

KAGAN: Absolutely.

Candy Crowley, happy new year to you.

CROWLEY: Thanks. You, too.

KAGAN: Thanks for coming in on the holiday. We appreciate it.

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