Region 8 Reacts to Kerry's Vice Presidential Pick - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro, AR -- Melissa Simas reports

Region 8 Reacts to Kerry's Vice Presidential Pick

July 6, 2004 -- Posted 5:30 p.m. CDT

Jonesboro, AR -- The South is playing a larger role in presidential politics this year.

Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee John Kerry ended months of speculation on Tuesday, announcing his choice for a running mate, John Edwards of North Carolina.

Edwards had been on the short-list of favorites for months, and in his hometown there's hope that his selection as John Kerry's running mate will give voice to the rural south.

"The next Vice President of the United States will be Senator John Edwards of North Carolina," said Kerry.

Political observers say it comes as no surprise John Kerry chose John Edwards from the south as his number two guy.

"I think it was the obvious selection," said Jim Burton, the former chairman of the local Democratic Party. "What he's basically decided to do is I think is rely on the message that Edwards was trying to take forward in the early part of this campaign of a dichotomy in this country of 2 Americas, of a have and have nots argument."

It's a message that worked very well for Edwards while he himself was running for President earlier this year. A recent poll shows a majority of Democratic Party members have wanted Edwards on the ticket ever since Kerry took the presumptive lead.

"I have chosen a man who understands and defends the values of America," said Kerry.

There of course had been some earlier speculation Kerry was going to select Dick Gephardt of Missouri, because of his ties to labor groups, and because Missouri is viewed as a swing state that could determine the election. But over in Cardwell Missouri, not too many folks are upset their native son is no longer in the running.

"I wanted John Edwards from the beginning so I'm real happy with this selection," said one Missouri President.

"I didn't like him anyway, I'm for Bush," said one man from Missouri.

"I think he saw the south as a place where he thought he had much more potential than he thought he did at the outset, certainly the deep south is going to be a battleground because it tends to be ideologically more conservative and I think he's going to need a southerner there," said Burton.

Analysts also say Edwards is a good addition to the ticket, because it will be interesting to see him go toe-to-toe with Vice-President Dick Cheney.

"They're going to draw a marked contrast between 2 individuals generational, ideologically, and just in term of background and belief," said Burton.

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