WASHINGTON – President Bush has invited one of his Democratic rivals for the White House to join him on Air Force One for a trip to North Carolina's Camp Lejeune.
Sen. John Edwards, who is seeking the party's presidential nomination, and Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., received the invitations from the White House and are scheduled to travel with the president when he flies to Jacksonville, N.C., Thursday.
Three House members from the eastern part of North Carolina -- Republican Rep. Walter Jones and Democratic Reps. Frank Ballance Jr., and Mike McIntyre -- also were invited. The military facility is located in that region.
Edwards has been a strong supporter of the U.S.-led war against Iraq, voting last fall for a congressional resolution giving Bush the authority to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. That pro-war stand has drawn criticism from some Democratic audiences; Edwards was booed during an appearance before the California state Democratic Party last month.
The White House invited Dole Tuesday morning, according to a congressional aide, and Edwards got his invitation Wednesday afternoon, said his spokesman, Mike Briggs. It will be his first trip on Air Force One.
Absent from the invite list was Republican Rep. Richard Burr, who is running for Edwards' Senate seat. Burr's district stretches from the central part of the state to the West.
In the coming months, Edwards is expected to choose between pursuing the Democratic presidential nomination or seeking a second term in the Senate.