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July 9, 2004
Copyright © 2004 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved. 

The Race Is On! Who Will It Be?

On Tuesday, after an Independence Day weekend of speeches and attendance at political rallies by presidential candidates of both major parties, public attention turned to Democrat John Kerry and his announcement of a Vice Presidential running mate for the 2004 election.

Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, one of John Kerry’s rivals in the Presidential Primary, was selected to be the #2 man on the Democratic team. Although the choice was no surprise – since he was among the leading candidates -- there had been speculation up until the last minute as to who would be named to the ticket. The morning New York newspaper, The Post, called it a bit too early, mistakenly announcing Richard Gephardt as Kerry’s choice. It soon retracted the story.

Since that time, the new team of Kerry/Edwards has been stumping in several of the so called "battleground states," including Pennsylvania and Ohio. Beginning next week, the two will part company to campaign individually up until time for the Democratic Convention that begins in Boston on July 26th.

Shortly after the announcement, overnight polling indicated that the American public approved of the choice of Edwards as Kerry’s running mate. In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 24% said the Edwards choice made them more likely to vote for the Democratic ticket, while only 7% said it would make them less likely. It also saw the Democratic ticket leading Bush/Cheney by a margin of 49% to 41%, with Independent candidate Ralph Nader -- who has chosen California politician Peter Camejo as his running mate -- at 4%. Perhaps most disappointing to Republican strategists was data showing that a plurality of respondents preferred Edwards over Vice President Dick Cheney, both as a future Vice President and as President.

A few influential Republicans are calling for Dick Cheney to withdraw from the race to allow President Bush to pick a running mate with more popularity, but Mr. Bush has flatly stated that it would not occur.

The Republican Party was quick to respond to the Edwards announcement, using its website to brand the Senator as an empty suit. It pointed out that, except for his current position, he had held no other elected office and has sponsored no legislation in the Senate that has become law. It lambasted many of his Senate votes, branding him with the "L-word," calling him "a disingenuous, unaccomplished Liberal." His votes, the article posited, placed him in the ideologically Liberal camp with Senator Edward Kennedy, D-MA, and Senator Hillary Clinton, D-NY.

On the stump, when asked to compare the two vice presidential candidates, President Bush simply said, "Dick Cheney could be President."

Democrats see the Edwards choice as bringing sparkle to a somewhat lackluster campaign style of Kerry’s effort so far. Also, the fact that he mounted a strong campaign for President against Kerry gives him a coterie of workers and supporters that can work for the Democratic ticket. They feel that Edwards' enthusiasm and skill at debate will effectively convey the Democratic message of the need for change at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

In 1998, John Edwards beat an incumbent to win a six-year term representing North Carolina in the U.S. Senate. Before that, he had built wealth and reputation as an effective litigator representing clients in class action suits, mainly against corporations, and medical malpractice defendants. This background has put him at odds with the business community that claims that the large judgments awarded to successful litigants jacks up the cost of their products. After news of the North Carolina Senator’s place on the Democratic ticket was released, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced that, for the first time in its history, it would abandon its customary neutrality and actively campaign against the Kerry/Edwards ticket.

In Congress, Edwards sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, experience that will help him deflect Republican accusations that he is weak in foreign policy matters. As a minority member of that committee, he was one of the first to call for a reorganization of the nation’s intelligence agencies. Legislatively, he has pursued a populist agenda, concentrating on health care issues, the environment, middle class tax cuts and educational reform. It is speculated that this record was one factor in Kerry’s choice of Edwards, with whom he works in the U.S. Senate. These issues will be prominent in the Democratic Party’s appeal to voters in 2004.

In the March 12, 2004 Hot Button Poll, Herald readers expressed a preference for John Edwards as John Kerry’s Vice Presidential running mate by winning 20% of the vote in a ten-person ballot. Close behind him was General Wesley Clark with 18%. There is no track record on Senator Edwards’ attitude regarding Puerto Rico self-determination, although presumably he will support John Kerry’s desire to see a non-territorial solution to the island’s permanent political status. He was not present in the Senate when the Congressional debate and voting occurred that indirectly led to the December 1998 plebiscite in Puerto Rico.

So, now that the two major tickets are settled and Ralph Nader persists in the race, it is time for the Herald’s readers to state their preferences for a winner in November. It will be a question that will come up from time to time over the next six months up to Election Day, November 2, 2004.

NOTE!!!! Even residents of Puerto Rico may vote in the Herald’s Presidential election.?

Which Presidential ticket do you prefer?

Please vote above!

This Week's Question:

Which presidential ticket do you prefer?

US . Residents
. PR
Bush/ Cheney

53% Kerry/ Edwards

5% Nader/ Camejo



.To submit your idea for a future PR Herald poll question or "Hot Button" issue, please click here.

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