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Wednesday | January 08, 2003

Presidential Politics Update

John Edwards received a nice column from dean David Broder today, wherein Broder remarked:

Edwards brings enough solid assets to the wide-open race that his credentials are worth examining -- even if his shortcomings are also apparent.

The first of those assets is geographical. He is currently the only southerner in the field, and Democrats know their only successful presidential candidates in the past 40 years came from Texas, Georgia and Arkansas. Sen. Bob Graham of Florida and retired Gen. Wesley Clark of Arkansas may yet run, so this advantage is possibly perishable. But while it lasts, it is significant, especially as the South Carolina primary may be as important to the Democrats in 2004 as it was to the Republicans in 2000.

The second asset is personal. The Democratic field is longer on competence than on charisma. Edwards can light up a room, and he bonds with voters more easily than, say, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who far outranks him in seniority. His life story is one that voters can appreciate: hardworking, blue-collar parents, the first in his family to earn a college degree, a personable wife who shared with him the tragic loss of a young son, and attractive youngsters still at home.

The third asset is smarts. None of the potential candidates is a slouch, but Edwards has made the effort to establish his own policy credentials with a series of serious speeches late last year on national security, foreign policy, education and the economy. He has shown himself a competent legislator in managing the patients' rights bill and a skilled questioner of judicial nominees on the Judiciary Committee. He is more comfortable on domestic issues than on international affairs, but the same could have been said of President Bush three years ago.

This, plus William Safire's partial backtracking of earlier negative comments about Edwards shows that the man has had a good run since his announcement.

As for Bob Graham, the Orlando Sentinel reports today that the man is making all the moves of someone who will be jumping in soon.

As for Joe Lieberman, the New Haven Register reports today that Lieberman will officially jump in next Monday.

Steve Soto

Posted January 08, 2003 10:42 AM | Comments (60)





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