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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Kerry Picks Edwards
Aired July 6, 2004 - 9:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: From the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is AMERICAN MORNING with Bill Hemmer and Soledad O'Brien.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: It's 9:00 a.m. here in New York City, 9:00 a.m. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Good morning, everyone. I'm Bill Hemmer, along with Heidi Collins, working for Soledad, who has vacation this week.
The speculation is over. Senator John Edwards will be Senator John Kerry's running mate in this year's campaign on the Democratic ticket. Kerry called Edwards earlier today, offered him the job. Edwards readily accepted, we are told.
We'll take you live to Pittsburgh in a few moments, where Senator Kerry expected to make that announcement himself. And we will get you there live when that begins there in Pittsburgh, PA -- Heidi.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Bill Schneider, Jeff Greenfield, Judy Woodruff, Candy Crowley, and Ron Brownstein, all of them with us this morning, talking about the big announcement. Also with us this morning, giving their political insight, Jack Cafferty, of course, as well.
You've got a newspaper there.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: "John Kerry's running mate will be veteran U.S. Representative Richard Gephardt of Missouri." This is this morning's "New York Post," which is owned by the same company that owns the 'F' word news network up the street.
For those of you who put so much stock in what those other guys are doing -- and I hear from lots of you with the e-mail -- "New York Post," owned by News Corp, also owns the Fox News network: "Dems pick Gephardt as vice presidential candidate."
HEMMER: We are waiting for the announcement today. And the e- mail went out to about a million subscribers on the John Kerry Web site, in part saying from Senator Kerry, "I want you to know why I'm excited about running for president with John Edwards by my side. John understands and defends the values if America. He has shown courage and conviction as a champion for middle class Americans and those struggling to reach the middle class."
Part of the e-mail that went out a short while ago. Candy Crowley with us live in Pittsburgh. Candy, good morning there.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Bill.
We're told you're going to see the senator. He is in this area in downtown Pittsburgh. We'll probably see him in about less than a minute to make official what he's already made official in a number of other ways. And that is, that it will be John Edwards.
Not much of a surprise. We sort of always felt it would come down to Gephardt and Edwards. In fact, that's what the campaign had told us all along.
Edwards, obviously, brings to the ticket his Southern accent, his Southern charm. He's sort of the balance to that northeastern sort of aloofness that John Kerry's often been accused of. But they also really believe that where John Edwards may be the most helpful to this campaign, according to strategists, is in the Midwest.
They don't necessarily believe that the South is something that Edwards can bring in, but they do think that he has large appeal in the Midwest. So this is -- is something that obviously on the list of criterion. I think you're about to hear the beginning of John Kerry's speech. Let's watch.
HEMMER: Senator John Kerry appearing with Teresa Heinz Kerry, who makes her home in Pittsburgh, PA. And, again, the word we got from CNN an hour and 30 minutes ago, expected to be made official. And we are told if the -- the format holds, that Senator Kerry will do this on his own. We do not expect John Edwards to be there. Perhaps that changes.
The music in the background by Bruce Springsteen. Bruce Springsteen has been the theme for John Kerry. He plays in a band, in fact. And they play the well-known tune from 1975, "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," that you will also hear throughout this campaign. The song, by the way, very -- very symblomatic (ph) for what we will hear throughout this campaign for the way Senator Kerry draws all Americans as he tries during this campaign for the White House.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: And John Edwards's campaign theme? Song from John Cougar Mellencamp...
HEMMER: "I was born in a small town."
GREENFIELD: "Small Town."
HEMMER: Thank you, Jeff.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good morning, Pittsburgh.
(APPLAUSE) KERRY: Thank you for a wonderful celebration of the Fourth of July here. Teresa and I have enjoyed so much, having a day or so to be here with you. Thank you for coming here this morning to be part of this journey together. And thank you for deciding to be part of the future.
KERRY: This morning -- this morning I've had the privilege of talking with a number of talented and decent Americans who have been both courageous enough and patriotic enough to allow themselves to be considered for the vice presidency of the United States of America. Teresa and I and all citizens are so grateful to them and to their families for caring enough about changing the direction of our country that they decided to go through what is inevitably a very intrusive and even frustrating process. Each of those individuals -- and I mean this -- each of those individuals would make a great vice president and, indeed, in their own right could lead our country.
KERRY: But I can choose only one running mate. And this morning I have done so.
KERRY: I have chosen a man who understands and defends the values of America. A man who has shown courage and conviction as a champion for middle-class Americans and for those struggling to reach the middle class. A man who has shown guts and determination and political skill in his own race for the presidency of the United States. A man whose life has prepared him for leadership and whose character brings him to exercise it.
I am pleased to announce that, with your help, the next vice president of the United States of America will be Senator John Edwards from North Carolina.
HEMMER: We are told that Senator Kerry informed Senator Edwards earlier today in a brief telephone call, readily accepting, we're told, the North Carolina senator. The two will campaign together throughout the week. The first stop should be Indiana later today. Whether that holds form or not we'll see.
Back to Senator Kerry now.
KERRY: Well, I trust that met with your approval.
KERRY: This campaign -- this campaign for the presidency really began -- this campaign -- now, wait, we've got plenty of those. Don't worry. We've got four months for you to get a hold of those things. We're going to get them around.
This campaign for the presidency really began two years ago. And throughout those two years, as well as for four years before that, I have worked with John Edwards, side by side, and sometimes head to head. I've seen John Edwards think, argue, advocate, legislate and lead for six years now.
I know his skill. I know his passion. I know his strength. I know his conscience. I know his faith.
He has honored the lessons of home and family that he learned in North Carolina. And he brings those values to shape a better America together with all of us.
KERRY: John Edwards is ready for this job. He is ready for this job. And there is something else about John Edwards that is important in this campaign and our country at this critical time. As you know, I am determined that we reach out across party lines, that we speak the heart of America, that we speak of hope and of optimism. And John Edwards will join me in doing that.
KERRY: As so many -- as so many of you know, throughout this campaign, John talked about the great divide in America, the two Americas that exists between those who are doing very well and those who are struggling to make ends meet in our country. That concern is at the center of this campaign. It is what it is all about. It is what the 35 years of my struggle have been about. And I am so proud that together, John Edwards and I are now going to fight to build one America for all Americans.
AUDIENCE: Bush, Bush, out the door. Bush, Bush, out the door.
KERRY: As you know, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and also a leader in fighting bioterrorism and understanding the threats we face, he shares my unshakable commitment to having a military that is second to nobody in the world. But also, to restoring old and rebuilding new alliances that make America stronger.
KERRY: And there is also a great bonus -- a great bonus in having John on this ticket. He, like me, is blessed with a remarkable wife, a strong, brave woman, Elizabeth Edwards.
KERRY: And Teresa and I will be proud to stand with the Edwards family, with their daughter, Kate, who just graduated from college this year, and with their two little ones, Emma Claire and Jack. And anyone who knows them -- and America will get to know them -- knows that this is a family that loves each other and loves America. We -- we are -- Teresa and I have talked with John and Elizabeth this morning. We've invited them to come here to Pittsburgh tonight.
KERRY: And we're going to spend the evening together, have a little chance to break bread, get a chance to talk. Our families will have a chance to meet and get to know each other well. And tomorrow morning, together, we all look forward to coming out and speaking to the nation for the first time as a team that will lead this country in a new and stronger direction.
KERRY: In the next 120 days, John and I and Elizabeth and Teresa are going to crisscross this country and fight for the nation that all of us know that we can be. This is about fairness. It's about fundamental fairness for all Americans. It's about people being able to go to work and actually getting the ability through a week's work and a month's work and a year's work to pay their bills, to live decently, to get ahead, to be able to be fair.
KERRY: This is a fight about creating jobs in America that don't pay less than the jobs that we're losing overseas. This is about -- this is about having a president who fights as hard for your job as he fights for his own job.
KERRY: This is about once and for all ending the shame of the United States of America being the only industrial nation on this planet, and the richest one, at that, that doesn't yet understand -- but it will at the end of this campaign -- health care is not a privilege for the wealthy and the connected. Health care is for all Americans. And we're going to fight for it. This is...
AUDIENCE: Kerry! Kerry! Kerry! Kerry! Kerry!
KERRY: This is also a fight for common sense. And I can pledge you this: John Edwards and I would never think about sending young America's sons and daughters into harm's way anywhere in the world without telling the American people the truth.
KERRY: And part of that common sense is pretty straightforward. God only gave us three percent of the world's oil reserves, right? But the Middle East has 65 percent.
I think it's smart for America to control its own destiny. I think it's smart for us to be able to know that our security is in our hands. I think it's smart for us to know that no young American in uniform will ever be held hostage to America's dependence on oil in the Middle East. We're going to liberate ourselves.
KERRY: And as John learned in North Carolina, and as both of us have heard all across this country, we've met too many parents who are forced to send their kids to a school that's overcrowded in its classes, that's lost its after-school programs, parents who feel frustrated that they just can't even get their kids the opportunities that parents live and die for. Well, when I'm president, and with John Edwards as vice president, I promise you this, we're going to stop being a country that's content to build a prison and spend $70,000 a year or $50,000 a year to House a young person there for the rest of their life rather than invest $10,000, $11,000 in head start, early start, smart start. Give kids a chance to be full citizens.
KERRY: So I ask you, over these next days, as we build this team, and as we go forward in this race, we've got four months, four months. And I have you. You're right. You bet we do.
We have you. And that's exactly the point that I want to make. Every generation in American history -- think of your parents and your grandparents and go back and read your history books -- every generation has had a chance to contribute to who we are as Americans.
Teresa, who came from East Africa, a dictatorship, to become American and know the passion of being an American who saw her father vote only for the first time when he was 71 years old, understands, as we all do, the blessings of this great country of ours. But what makes this country great is our ability to come together like this in a square, in a city, and talk with each other and build a movement that writes our future. We have the ability to be able to do these things. But we have to go out and make it happen.
KERRY: I -- I learned the great blessing of this great country years ago when I fought for it. And I came together on a small boat in the jungles of Vietnam with five other guys from places as diverse as South Carolina, Arkansas, California, Iowa, Massachusetts.
And you know what? When we were on that boat, folks, nobody worried about bank accounts and schools and backgrounds and religion. We covered for each other. We worked together. We were literally all in the same boat.
KERRY: And what we need is a president who understands that there aren't people who are powerful and special interests that you take care of in this country. We're all in the same boat. And when I'm president, we're going to have a country that reflects that. We're going to have a president who fights for all Americans, doesn't divide them, brings people together to solve problems.
I pledge to you that, while we may be older and grayer now, those of us who served, we still know how to fight for our country. And we're going to fight for our country.
AUDIENCE: Kerry! Kerry! Kerry! Kerry!
KERRY: Langston Hughes was a poet, a black man and a poor man. And he wrote in the 1930s powerful words that apply to all of us today. He said, "Let America be America again. Let it be the dream that it used to be, for those whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain, for those whose hand at the foundry" -- something Pittsburgh knows about -- "for those whose plow in the rain must bring back our mighty dream again."
We've come here today to put a team together that's going to fight to bring back America's mighty dream. We're going out of here today to let America be America again.
Let's go out and make it happen together! Thank you! And god bless! Thank you very much!
HEMMER: It is official now from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, John Edwards is on the ticket with John Kerry. The news that we've been reporting for about the past two hours now, making it official there. And Senator Kerry turning the attention back to himself, and also his campaign, and what he hopes to accomplish in the next 120 days or so, talking about the U.S. military, standing for the U.S. around the world, jobs in this country, and of course, health care, an issue that will get a lot of attention as we move forward. Anywhere between 40 million and 50 million Americans without jobs.
Back with us here on AMERICAN MORNING, to Jeff Greenfield.
What did you hear in this speech?
GREENFIELD: Well, not that much about John Edwards. This was basically John Kerry's standard stump speech, fused with the fact that he's now picked John Edwards.
What I think we're seeing here is a roll-out of the vice president is going to be -- take place over the next 48, 72 hours. And I think that's part of the reason why Kerry announced it Tuesday morning. Everybody's back to work, Fourth of July is over. Dominate the news from here, probably to the end of the weekend.
HEMMER: From here, we expect a trip to Indianapolis, Indiana. Whether that format -- or that schedule, anyway, holds, we'll see throughout the day. But maybe back in D.C. late afternoon, whether or not that format holds as well.
What we are now starting to see, though, with John Kerry, again stepping out now in the American public, and viewers watching this man and start to consider him for the first time, essentially, we're starting to feel the sense and the urgency of a campaign. And we are going to start to see the competitive nature of John Kerry going up against the competitive nature of George Bush. And they talk about it publicly, how much competitive nature they have within themselves and with the campaign going now. These guys are ready for a fight against each other.
GREENFIELD: And John Kerry has a particular problem. I had -- I was in Pennsylvania a couple weeks ago, talking to some undecided voters. Had the same reaction that almost everybody else has had.
The Wall Street Journal focus group, our colleague, Mark Shields, who talked to undecided voters. They are seriously considering, as they say, firing Bush. And clearly, this is not 1984 or '96, where they like the incumbent.
But for all that we've been covering this campaign, they don't know that much about John Kerry. And the one thing that has really stuck from the Bush commercials of the spring is the flip-flop.
"I actually voted for the $187 billion before I voted against it," voters give that line back to you unsolicited. They know that about him.
So it's John Kerry's task over the next month -- next three weeks, right up to that convention, to begin to change people's minds about his conviction and his steadiness and his consistency. And with John Edwards now part of the ticket to say, look, we have got the message that's going to do what you want a president to do. You're thinking about getting rid of the president you have. We've got to give you some reasons now why you're going to be comfortable for that choice.
COLLINS: But John Edwards did the same thing. I mean, he voted for the resolution and then against the appropriations.
GREENFIELD: Well, John Edwards -- John Edwards did not publicly say a line that most ordinary Americans cannot fathom: "I actually voted for it before I voted against it." If you hung around the Senate for 15 or 20 years, it actually makes a kind of sense. You know, I voted for it when -- but it makes no sense to most Americans because of the complexity.
And that's part of John Kerry's problem. And I think it's one of the reasons why he picked Edwards. The difference between the ability of these two people to summon language that -- that resonates with -- with -- with voters is profound. John Kerry does get locked in a kind of Senate speak, a kind of formality. John Edwards, it's -- it's 50- cent words, not $3 words, and it's a connection that goes right into the heart. Very different kind of messages.
CAFFERTY: He hasn't been there long enough to be contaminated by what goes in that in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) body on a daily basis. There's a problem in the country when the -- when the things that are said in the U.S. Senate are not translatable to the people who vote for the members of the U.S. Senate.
E-mails -- we get letters. Gordon writes this: "Just what we need, a trial lawyer who has made himself rich with lawsuits that make everything cost more. We need a law to protect us from these vultures. Bad choice."
On the other hand, Berlin (ph) in Hertford, North Carolina, "John Edwards is the best choice because he's blessed with that intangible charisma, and also wise and politically savvy. Most importantly, he's come from working class America. And he's already been an advocate for the average American."
And one more. Sherry (ph) in Freemont, Missouri: "I'm glad it's Edwards. We need a fresh face after all the old faces have ruined this country. It's time to change things around and give someone else a chance."
HEMMER: Contrast the scene we're seeing today in July to what we saw back in January in Iowa, when John Kerry was literally against the ropes in his campaign, took out a substantial loan against his home in Beacon hill, Boston, Massachusetts, $6.5 million. A week before the caucuses were held, all the polling suggested that John Kerry was going down in defeat, fourth place. And he ran from caucus to caucus, almost nonstop, for the next seven days and literally saved his campaign then.
GREENFIELD: The story of John Kerry's campaign back then is really remarkable. He was at one point running behind Al Sharpton nationally. And I caught up with him in New Hampshire just as he decided to say, I can't make the stand in New Hampshire, I've got to go to Iowa and define myself. Literally put his millions on the line and became a much tougher campaigner.
The point you were making earlier, Bill, about the competitive instincts of these guys, one of the things about John Kerry that we saw in -- in the primaries is that at the point when people were taking bets on what day he would drop out of the campaign, he turned it around. And part of that was pure grit. And you cannot -- you cannot underestimate how important that is in a campaign.
HEMMER: Here's a man in his 60s and snowboards. President Bush turns 58 today. At last check, he was running 7.5-minute miles on a treadmill.
GREENFIELD: Yes. And, you know, the most scary -- the one thing where one of the four guys is completely like the other, you've got Edwards who runs an hour a day, even in the blistering heat, John Kerry who is an athlete, you've got Bush, who's a runner. And then you've got Dick Cheney. I'm not sure on that standard he's in the same category here.
HEMMER: Let's get a break here. John Kerry, John Edwards, the Democratic ticket for 2004. Break here. Back in a moment on AMERICAN MORNING.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: I'm pleased to announce that with your help, the next vice president of the United States of America will be Senator John Edwards from North Carolina.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: It is -- it is official. Thirty minutes ago from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the ticket on the Democratic side will be Kerry-Edwards. We heard the campaign rally end a few moments ago, where he announced the news. We first heard about two hours ago on CNN, reporting that John Edwards is the running mate.
Kerry calling Edwards a "man who understands and defends the values of America." And a huge moment and day for the Kerry campaign.
Welcome back, everybody. Bill Hemmer, along with Heidi Collins. Soledad is out today. As our coverage continues here, live on AMERICAN MORNING, in the remaining time we have left, though, we'll look at how choosing Edwards impacts the election in November.
COLLINS: That's right. And we have Jeff Greenfield, Bill Schneider, Ron Brownstein, all with us this morning, looking at just that question as we continue to look at these live pictures coming to us from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We're also going to hear from Paul Begala and the Republican governor of Massachusetts. Of course, Mitt Romney there.
HEMMER: Senator John Kerry, as we continue to watch the rally there in Pittsburgh, say he and Senator John Edwards will fight to build "one America for all Americans." And if you remember back to the primary season, Senator Edwards, that was his theme, two Americas, and trying to bridge that gap between the rich and the poor. Now a team together, Kerry tapping Edwards earlier today. And Candy Crowley is live in Pittsburgh.
Candy, good morning. What's happening now?
CROWLEY: Good morning, Bill.
Well, as you can see on the camera, he is obviously going through this crowd, talking to them for the first time to hear, "atta boys" from supporters about John Edwards. From here, he's going to keep part of his schedule, which is to move on to Indiana. But then he's going to come back here, and we'll get the first picture, we're told, of Edwards and Kerry, the team together. They will meet here tonight.
We had previously been told that perhaps Kerry would not do his Washington speech, which was scheduled for this afternoon. As far as we know, that still holds. But things are, as we are told, very fluid.
Starting tomorrow, they're going to do basically some battleground states, Ohio, West Virginia. We believe Florida is in the mix, ending up in North Carolina, home state of John Edwards, on Saturday. So they're describing this as a barnstorming tour.
Interestingly, I talked to some Democratic strategists, some involved in the process, some not, who said, look, when this process began, John Edwards was not Kerry's first inclination. But over time, and mostly his own internal deliberations, he came to believe that Edwards was the one who meets really what's the number one criteria, and that is getting into the White House.
Kerry felt he was best helped by Edwards. Not so much in the South, which is certainly part of John Edwards' persona, is that that Southern charm, that Southern accent, but they really believe swing voters in the Midwest will find John Edwards and his middle class, his aim at the middle class and his speech on poverty, which he did in the -- in the latter part of his primary campaign, will in fact be very powerful and quite attractive to the swing voters in all those battleground states.
One other thing. Republicans are now pointing to some things that John Kerry said about John Edwards when the two were going at it in the primary. Among them, those things, John Kerry said, look, John Edwards has no international experience and no military experience. So you will be hearing that from the opposition. But clearly, in the end, what Kerry felt was that Edwards helped him where he needed it most, and that is getting him into the White House -- Bill.
HEMMER: Thanks -- Candy, thanks for that in Pittsburgh.
More in a moment. Now Heidi.
COLLINS: Well, no experience or not, all those things seem to be resolved, as we take a quick look at the Web site for the new Kerry- Edwards ticket. You can see right here the picture of the two of them together, presenting themselves in, I believe, their slogan now, "A stronger America."
Kelly Wallace standing by now, right outside of John Edwards' home in Georgetown, Washington, telling us about what's going on there.
A few Democratic operatives showing up there, I believe, at this time. Right, Kelly?
KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, yes, we have seen some aides go inside the senator's home, including a couple of aides who worked on his presidential campaign, Sam Meyers (ph), who did advance. We believe he will be doing advance for the vice presidential tickets. And also Kim Ruby (ph), who was one of the senator's press secretaries during the primary, who we believe will also be working for him now that he is the running mate.
We haven't seen, though, John Edwards yet himself. Again, he is inside his home. We don't believe his wife, Elizabeth, is there with him. We understand she was in Raleigh, North Carolina, this morning. We heard John Kerry say that he and his wife, Teresa, spoke on the phone with Elizabeth and John Edwards, and that they have invited them, as Candy was saying, to their Pittsburgh home. So what we are waiting for -- a lot of expectation here in this Georgetown neighborhood -- to see John Edwards come out here.
We're expecting at some point he'll likely come before sort of the cameras that have been assembled on his sidewalk, talk to us, and then head to Pittsburgh. Not expecting any other event with him. He will be in Pittsburgh. And then as Candy was reporting, we know he will be touring the state -- the country with John Kerry, going to Ohio, New York, New Mexico, Florida, and then ending in North Carolina.
A lot of excitement on the part of Edwards aides, who believe that he really will bring tremendous energy to this ticket. And there were some clues that we were seeing now. Of course, hindsight is 20- 20. We saw he was doing fund-raisers in Boston that were previously scheduled. Cam Kerry, John Kerry's brother introducing him. Cam Kerry spending time in North Carolina not too long ago.
And then this meeting that a lot of people have talked about here in Georgetown Thursday night, a secret meeting. John Edwards not even telling members of his own staff about it. One source describing it as a very, very good meeting. And in the end, John Kerry deciding John Edwards is the best man for him to try and defeat George Bush and Dick Cheney -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Well, lots of secret meetings going on, that's for sure. But a secret no more. Kelly Wallace, thanks so much, live from Georgetown this morning.
HEMMER: Heidi just talked about the John Kerry Web site. The Bush-Cheney Web site up and going. And interestingly enough, John McCain is the featured act at this hour on the Bush-Cheney '04 Web site. We have been told that TV ads are now ready to go.
Whoever was the choice for John Kerry, Republicans would come back and say it was always the second choice, given the overtures that John Kerry had made toward John McCain. Republicans criticizing Senator Kerry as pessimistic. How might this election of Edwards now speak to that criticism?
Judy Woodruff, good morning to you in D.C. on this topic as well.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Bill.
Well, it was John Edwards who John Kerry himself said a minute ago was the man who was out on the campaign trail earlier this year talking about two Americas, a part of America that didn't have what it needed. The other part of America, the haves, the wealthy, and John Edwards talked about bringing those two together. John Kerry talked about that.
You know, we've been hearing from the Bush-Cheney campaign that John -- as you just said, John Kerry is a candidate of pessimism. I think choosing John Edwards is one way they get around that. They can point to John Edwards, they can go back and look at the kind of campaign he ran. And you'll be seeing, I'm -- I am sure, John Edwards running very much, saying some of the same things that we heard him saying in the primaries, although in a very different context.
Bill, I want to quickly point out something based on what you just said, you and Heidi talking about the Bush-Cheney Web site. Indeed, they have a picture of John McCain, the -- the good things that John Kerry has had to say about John McCain, and pointing out that John McCain may have been John Kerry's first choice.
Lo and behold, the Democrats have come back and pointed out that on the back of John Edwards' book, "Four Trials," which I happen to have as a copy here, a book that he wrote about his experiences as a trial lawyer, there's a favorable comment by none other than John McCain. And if you'll bear with me just a moment, he says, "John Edwards has written movingly of people who were terribly wronged and whom he helped to seek some measure of justice with great skill, determination and genuine compassion." And he goes on to talk about a political biography into the heart of a good man.
So the war of John McCain has already started. Who would have thought that he would be at the center of it.
In addition, the Bush-Cheney folks have put out a 23-page statement already looking into John Edwards' background, poring over every one of his Senate votes, looking for any nugget that they can roll out there and say this is the reason why you don't want to vote for him.
HEMMER: Some of the Bush camp already saying today they expect to be down about 15 points when the Democrats come out in Boston at the end of July, first part of August. Perhaps underplaying and downplaying what they may experience, though, after the Democrats break out of Boston.
But I think, Judy, one thing is for certain as we look toward November. It might be Florida again that decides again. If, indeed, the polls are right and the nation is still split 50-50, it might be Ohio. But certainly it will be voter turnout.
Do the Democrats now believe that John Edwards can give them the energy that some say Senator Kerry lacks? He's criticized for being laborious oftentimes in the stump. Does John Edwards now give them that fuel and that energy that is needed to take that middle part of the -- the undecided vote and swing them in Senator Kerry's favor, and to do it with the enthusiasm that we saw in places like Iowa back in January?
WOODRUFF: For sure, Bill. And you just heard it from Candy Crowley. Candy talking to people around John Kerry who are saying, it's not just the South they're going after by choosing John Edwards. They have chosen someone they think appeals to swing voters, people who are either sitting on the fence, you know, ready to trade George W. Bush in, not quite sure that John Kerry's the man they want to vote for. But also looking to pull in those voters who were just turned off by the process, disenchanted, and who may not vote at all.
They want somebody who can excite voters, Democrats, and particularly those swing voters, whether it's Florida, whether it's Ohio, wherever it is across the country.
HEMMER: Judy, thanks for that. Stand by in D.C. We mentioned the ad with John McCain. We said it was ready. Indeed, it is. The first look, Senator McCain endorsing President Bush for president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It's a big thing this war. It's a fight between right and wrong, good and evil. And should our enemies acquire for their arsenal the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons they seek, this war will become an even bigger thing. It will become a fight for our survival.
America is under attack by depraved enemies who oppose our every interest and hate every value we hold dear. It is the great test of our generation, and he has led with great moral clarity and firm resolve.
He has not wavered. He has not flinched from the hard choices. He was determined, and remains determined to make this world a better, safer, freer place.
He deserves not only our support, but our admiration. That's why I am honored to introduce to you the president of the United States, George W. Bush.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: There is the ad that we have been talking about over several days now. The first look that we've been given.
And Judy, is this a hit, a blow toward Senator Kerry, knowing that he courted him on several occasions based on the reports we get? Or is this something that voters forget over the next three or four months?
WOODRUFF: You know, I -- I have a question about how -- how enduring that is going to be with voters. This is a day when John Kerry's rolled out the man he wants to be his running mate. Whether it is possible for the Republicans to chip into that and say, hey, he was talking to John McCain a few weeks ago, it seems to me John Kerry can always come back and say, I was trying to bridge the gap between the two parties.
He said it today, I'm trying to reach out, not just to Democrats, but to people of all political persuasions. So, you know, I'm not at all sure that -- that this kind of advertising, right now, is going to be as effective for Bush as some of the earlier ads they were running.
HEMMER: The ad is called "First Choice," and the Republicans unveiling it almost immediately, as was the plan.
Judy, thanks for that.
John Kerry has made his choice. His choice is John Edwards on the ticket for the 2004 race for the White House. Break here. Back in a moment on AMERICAN MORNING.
COLLINS: Just moments ago we heard the announcement, John Kerry's running mate. He's chosen John Edwards. Let's listen to that in just a moment. Or not.
You heard it first here anyway. We promise.
We have CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein standing by also, with the "Los Angeles Times." He's live from Washington this morning to give us his take on all this.
What do you think, Ron? You know, when we hear announcements like this, typically, as we've been saying this morning, quite a bump in the polls. But then instantly we've got this ad that you just saw with John McCain in it for the president. How quickly is that going to play against each other?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, after this exhaustive, months-long process, we end up with the vice presidential nominee that most Democrats would have preferred the morning after John Kerry clinched the nomination in March. So it's somewhat circular in that sense.
I think the McCain endorsement is valuable over the long run. There has been tension between him and President Bush. But on the war on terror, he is probably the staunchest supporter of the administration's strategy. So I think in the long run, this is something that is going to be valuable for the president on many fronts.
In the short run, I don't think it's likely to reduce the wave that you typically get when you announce -- when you announce your vice president and move into your convention. This should be a good few weeks for John Kerry if he handles it well. It's important that it be a few good weeks, because, as we've talked about before, it really is the best opportunity he's going to have in this entire election year to tell his story to the country on a sustained -- in a sustained way and a coherent way.
COLLINS: Yes, and doing some non-traditional things in the wake of all of that by announcing John Edwards, he's not there. He also went to the Web site, first of all, to make the announcement that it would be John Edwards. In fact, let's look at this for just a minute now.
Some of the things that he said on that Web site, Ron, one of the things was, "In the next 120 days, and in the administration that follows, John Edwards and I will" -- a mission statement, if you will...
COLLINS: ... "be fighting for the America we love. We'll be fighting to give the middle class a voice by providing good paying jobs, affordable health care, fighting to make America energy independent, fighting to build a strong military."
As we've been saying this morning, it's been taking a while for the American public to understand who John Kerry is. Will he do it better with John Edwards? Will that message translate?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, I thought the fundamental choice he faced in this pick was whether to pick someone whose primary value was in delivering a national security message or a domestic policy message. The national security candidates on the list were kind of long shots in different ways, Wesley Clark, Bob Graham, et cetera.
Once you wanted -- once you made the fundamental decision to pick someone who would help you on issues like health care, the economy and trade, it was hard to argue for leaping over John Edwards to someone like Dick Gephardt, who didn't have a lot of appeal in the campaign trail this time, even though he's very respected by Democrats, or Tom Vilsack, who doesn't -- who hadn't really run -- you know, hasn't run on a national stage, and hasn't been vetted and hasn't been through this. But I think what's interesting today and what we heard from John Kerry today was a return to some of the core domestic themes, especially with a populist note that we heard from him earlier in the race.
It's, I think, an kind of interesting strategy, given that a lot of analysts believe that right now Iraq and national security are driving voters more than the domestic issues. Clearly, Edwards is more useful and is very good at driving a message on that domestic front. His challenge is going to be demonstrating credibility on national security, especially when paired against Vice President Dick Cheney.
COLLINS: Ron, what do you think about the younger voters? Are these guys going to be able to get the young vote?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, if you look back, since we lowered the voting age in 1972, younger voters have tended to vote pretty close to the country as a whole. They have a slightly more Democratic, but usually there is very little difference between the way people 18 to 29 vote and the overall result. In part because they're less tuned in and they tend to be pulled along by the overall flow.
John Kerry is running better with younger voters in some polls than he is among the nation as a whole. John Edwards should be attractive to those voters. There are a lot of voter turnout efforts aimed at them.
My guess is, though, they are not going to be decisive. They will not be a particularly large or smaller share of the electorate than they've been in years past. And they we could see turnout up for all groups this year. There's a lot of intensity out there on both sides.
John Kerry could do better. But my guess is, as Candy Crowley suggested, that a real key to this race is going to be small town, Midwest rural voters in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota. And it's there, more than in the South, that John Edwards is going to have to prove his value.
You know, Heidi, he ran in the primaries. His song was -- that he would be introduced to -- was John Cougar Mellencamp, "I was born in a small town." Those are the people he really has to deliver for John Kerry.
COLLINS: Yes. We were talking about that earlier, Ron. It's a good song, isn't it?
COLLINS: All right. Ron Brownstein, thanks so much for that this morning.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
HEMMER: Oftentimes we discuss and we debate whether or not the vice presidential choice makes a difference in the end. It will make a difference for today, anyway, because this is the headlines that we'll be talking about throughout the day, and really for the next several days, leading up to that convention in Boston. Ultimately, does it matter? We will see in November regarding that choice.
Republicans clearly staking claim to what they feel was the first choice for John Kerry. Senator John McCain, they believe, was the one that Senator Kerry courted for days, if not weeks at a time. Already, Republicans responding with this ad featuring Senator McCain and his endorsement of President Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: It's a big thing this war. It's a fight between right and wrong, good and evil. And should our enemies acquire for their arsenal the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons they seek, this war will become an even bigger thing. It will become a fight for our survival.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: The point Republicans are making, whoever the choice is -- now it's John Edwards -- whatever that case may be, it was always the second choice for Senator Kerry.
Dana Bash working this end of the story, back in D.C. again.
What does the White House have to say now, Dana? Good morning.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Bill.
And certainly, over at Bush campaign headquarters across the river in Virginia, they were, as you just saw, well prepared for this announcement today on the Democratic side. Their -- their main theme, if you will, you just saw it, is that John Kerry's first choice was not Senator John Edwards. They claim that it was Senator John McCain.
It's interesting to see both campaigns still using Senator McCain, who is wildly popular, as somewhat of a -- of a volleyball in -- in this race, that he certainly has this kind of impact. But they're certainly trying to show with John McCain that he supports President Bush, not John Kerry, but also trying to make the point that Senator Edwards is somebody who perhaps is -- was not on the top of the list.
But the other thing that they're trying to press over at the Bush campaign is -- is the fact that not only is it the Bush campaign that says that John Edwards is not experienced, they're taking what really is a classic page from the book of a side that's running against two running mates who fought each other in a primary season. They're trying to use their own words against each other, Bill.
They've already come out and used John Kerry's words during the Democratic primary in Iowa, saying that he himself said that John Edwards was not experienced enough perhaps for the job. Now, we should point out that John Kerry later apologized for that.
They're also putting out immediately -- really minutes after we got the news from the Democratic side, they put out a slew of talking points, really initially meant for their surrogates, for Republicans who are going to appear on talk shows. But they made it to the press. And they had things like talking about the fact that Kerry -- John Kerry is trying to fill what they called the charm gap by picking John Edwards.
And in talking to Bush campaign officials over the past several days, asking whether or not John Edwards, if he were the pick, what they would say, they reminded us that he -- although he's only been in the Senate for one term, he has a voting record just like John Kerry, and that they can pick it apart, and they've already begun to do that, pointing out his votes and how they say that it's not what he's voted on and has not been right for America.
HEMMER: Dana, thanks for that. A whole lot to think about. And thanks.
Ten minutes till the hour. Break here. Back in a moment with more.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: As you well know by now, all morning long we've been talking about John Kerry's announcement for his vice presidential candidate. That would be John Edwards.
We want to go ahead and take a moment now to get the Republicans' perspective on things. So we'd like to speak with Governor Mitt Romney. He's joining us this morning from Boston.
Good morning to you, governor.
GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Good morning, Heidi. How are you?
COLLINS: I'm great, thanks. What do you think of Kerry's choice for his running mate?
ROMNEY: Well, it's not a bad choice for his second pick. His first choice, of course, was John McCain. But John McCain disappointed him by supporting the president. But as a candidate, not too bad.
This is a fellow who -- who can speak well. He's been a trial lawyer, so he's pretty glib. On the other hand, it's an individual who only a few months ago John Kerry was saying didn't have the experience for this job. So I think lack of experience will be an issue.
I also think it's going to be tough to have on the ticket not somebody who balances, but instead is just as liberal or almost as liberal as John Kerry. So I think the ticket has some challenges there. And, of course, it's also a ticket which is Washington based.
It fundamentally is a ticket of individuals that are senators, that don't have experience at the state level, extensive experience there. So there's some pros, there's some cons. Net-net, I don't think it's going to change the game very much long term. It's going to come down to Bush and Kerry, not the VPs.
COLLINS: As you mentioned, Mr. Governor, the Bush campaign did release an ad very, very quickly after this announcement that features John McCain supporting the president. They're calling it "First Choice," as you also mentioned. Let's listen in to that for just a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: It's a big thing this war. It's a fight between right and wrong, good and evil. And should our enemies acquire for their arsenal the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons they seek, this war will become an even bigger thing. It will become a fight for our survival. America is under attack by depraved enemies who oppose our every interest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Governor Romney, do you expect that John McCain will play a prominent role in the Bush re-election campaign?
ROMNEY: You know, I think John McCain will always be a very prominent part of the Republican Party, and will play a very prominent role in any campaign, including the president's. And at a time like this, given the fact that John Kerry had John McCain as his number one pick, the fact that he's out there stumping for President Bush says volumes about John Kerry and about President Bush. So, yeah, I think you're going to see a lot of him. COLLINS: But you have to -- you have to remember, of course, McCain also disagreed quite a few times on different policies with the White House. Are you concerned that this ad might not be well received because of that?
ROMNEY: Oh, I think you're going to find within any party, and particularly the Republican Party, you're not going to have uniformity on every issue. You're going to see good Republicans looking for an answer that is consistent with their own views.
We don't all march lockstep behind one Republican. I wouldn't expect Democrats to do that either. But John McCain is very firmly committed to President Bush and to the policies of President Bush. And John Kerry is so far liberal that it's just unthinkable that John McCain would even, you know, think for a moment that he might be connected with John Kerry.
So you've got a match of individuals who have very similar philosophies, very similar politics. And I think John McCain and George Bush are going to work well in the campaign together.
COLLINS: Governor Mitt Romney coming to us live from Boston this morning. Governor, appreciate your time.
ROMNEY: Thanks, Heidi.
HEMMER: Quickly to the other side now.
Paul Begala, Republicans say you've got your second choice, not your number one choice. Your reaction?
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Oh, that's just silly. I mean, come on, nobody ever offered John McCain the vice presidency.
And, by the way, it is a secret ballot in America. And I bet I don't have quite the wealth that Governor Romney has. But I would bet you a cold beer...
HEMMER: Hey, Paul...
BEGALA: ... that when he closes that curtain, John McCain ain't going to be voting for George W. Bush.
HEMMER: Oh, you think so?
BEGALA: It's an open secret in Washington. He hates Bush.
HEMMER: Your ticket's set. How do you feel about John Edwards?
BEGALA: Actually, I think it's great. It's very good for the Democrats. I mean, what I think the Kerry campaign was trying to do is to send a message.
Rather than looking at geography or looking at region, or those sorts of things, I think they wanted to send a message. And I think the message is exactly what Edwards had campaigned on, the sense that there are two Americas, that we're not doing as well as we ought to be able to do. And I think that matches up very well with the president, who basically is basically going around and saying, things are great, we never had it so good.
Well, you know, John Kerry, and now John Edwards, are going to say, well, no, I think we can do better. And I think the energy he brings, the enthusiasm he brings, the charisma, not a word one uses with Dick Cheney, is going to be wonderful for him.
HEMMER: Hey, Paul, how do you defend against what will be criticism about his lack of experience?
BEGALA: Well, that's why it's a ticket. And he's not the presidential candidate, he's the vice presidential candidate. And I think that Democrats and I think a lot of independents are going to like the experience that he has.
He's been in the Senate for a term now, for a six-year term. He's the principal author of the Patients Bill of Rights, where he worked with John McCain and impressed McCain, where he worked with Teddy Kennedy and impressed him. If you can bring Republicans and Democrats together, then that's a pretty impressive thing.
Now, it turns out President Bush opposes that Patients Bill of Rights. And so I think those are the kinds of issues, the kind of experience that John Edwards brings. And people are going to like it.
HEMMER: All right. It was short. Sorry to run out of time on you, Paul. Thanks.
BEGALA: Thanks, Bill.
HEMMER: Paul Begala in D.C.
A quick break again. Back in a moment.
HEMMER: Busy morning as we close out. Final thoughts here. First to Jeff.
GREENFIELD: Paul Begala's one-time partner, James Carville, in 1992 had a sign on his campaign office wall. Not "It's the economy, stupid," but "Change versus more of the same." John Edwards is the pick if you want to emphasize change. That's a key to this decision.
HEMMER: And we will watch that.
CAFFERTY: The economy's picking up a little bit. The war in Iraq has quieted some since they handed over sovereignty to the Iraqi government a few days ago. If things improve in Iraq and the economy continues to recover, Kerry's got an uphill struggle. If either of those things goes the other way, the undecided voters may have reason to make up their mind. HEMMER: So true.
COLLINS: And that's just the point, undecided voters. It is still July. Still a lot of undecided voters. And you look at overall, everybody is still pretty split.
HEMMER: Yes. The race is on.
They talk about two Americas, which was Senator Edwards' theme during the primaries and caucuses. And today, John Kerry said we want one America for all Americans. I think themes in presidential campaigns play very large.
And the music that we heard at the beginning of Senator Kerry's campaign today, when he came out with the "Land of Hope and Dreams," song by Bruce Springsteen, "Rolling through the countryside, pulling all kinds of people on board the train. People like saints and sinners, losers and winners, whores and gamblers, lost souls. Dreams will not be thwarted; faith will be rewarded."
As we go through the next three or four months, look for those themes again.