LONDON – John Kerry's (search) choice of a running mate, in the upbeat view of several European newspapers, comes down to one word: charisma.
John Edwards (search) has it; Kerry doesn't, in the opinion of major national papers in Europe, where President Bush is widely disliked and the wish to see him gone is strong.
In Britain, The Times, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph all featured "charisma" in the headlines of their editorials. Edwards "has the charisma, the fresh face, the self-confident youthfulness that Mr. Kerry, nine years his senior, so clearly lacks," The Guardian commented.
Kerry, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, announced Tuesday that he had chosen his Senate colleague from North Carolina to be the Democratic candidate for vice president.
"In selecting the senator for North Carolina, the presidential challenger is looking not so much for a geographic as a personality balance for the Democratic ticket," The Daily Telegraph said. "Where Mr. Kerry ... is wooden and aloof, his prospective vice president is a charismatic communicator who will appeal to independent voters in middle-ground states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania."
Edwards, the Telegraph added, "will add sparkle to a lackluster Democratic performance."
The Times commented that presidential candidates often look for a running mate to balance personal qualities — such as Bush selecting the older and vastly more experienced Dick Cheney as his vice presidential contender.
"If he threw in his lot with Mr. Edwards, by contrast, (Kerry) would be selecting a man plainly more charismatic than himself," The Times said. Edwards, it added, is "impressive on the campaign stump and an adept performer in television interviews."
"A vice presidential candidate with the gift of speech and an attractive approach should be a decided asset," said the Stockholm newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
The Irish Times in Dublin said Edwards "has a charismatic personality with a potential appeal to American voters disillusioned with the Bush administration. He can push the Democrat campaign outside the rather conventional Washington channels in which Mr. Kerry's political career has operated."
Moving beyond tactical considerations, the Financial Times expressed concern about Edwards' position on free trade.
"Like many politicians from the Carolinas, Mr. Edwards has found it expedient to adopt protectionist rhetoric," the Financial Times said.
"But his views on other economic matters are closer to New Democrat centrism than the old school blue-collar laborism of, say, (Richard) Gephardt. The Kerry campaign seems in any case sharply to have scaled down its dangerous flirtation with populist rabble-rousing about offshoring."
Berlingske Tidende, one of Denmark's largest newspaper, also had doubts.
"John Kerry has not yet made it clear with sufficient precision what he will do with the trade policy, the foreign policy, Iraq and the trans-Atlantic ties," Berlingske Tidende said.
Nonetheless, Berlingske Tidende credited Kerry with "a wise decision ... because Edwards has all what Kerry has not: youth, charisma, the ability to captivate the attention of a crowd with his speeches and a clear southern profile that matches John Kerry's cool style."