Estrich On Edwards

FNC's Susan Estrich gives FOX Fans the inside scoop on why John Edwards was chosen as John Kerry's vice presidential candidate:

So, it’s John-John for the Democrats.

It may not be a surprise, but it’s certainly good news for Democrats nationwide, at least with the exception of the junior Senator from New York.

John Kerry has shown himself to be a candidate who is determined to win. No Dan Quayle-like choices for him. No willful acts of candidate rebellion. No unknowns to be feared for the future.

By choosing John Edwards as his running mate, John Kerry has picked a man who has been fully vetted by the process, who has been tested on the trail, and who showed himself to be a winner in his first run for high office. The only problem is the one Hillary faces: win or lose, Edwards is the obvious successor to Kerry as the next leader of the Democratic Party, and the next frontrunner.

"I’m just waiting until October 7th, when the arrogant, full-of-himself Dick Cheney, who thinks he is doing people a favor when he campaigns, meets the man who has never seen a crowd he doesn’t want to win."

Back in New Hampshire, Democratic insiders began dreaming of their dream ticket, the two top contenders, uniting North and South, sober and smooth, experience and the outsider, the son of privilege and the son of a mill worker.

But the Edwards-for-VP boom really began even earlier. Four years ago, on the eve of the last Democratic Convention, then President Bill Clinton told me that he thought John Edwards was the best possible choice for Vice President (I won’t even tell you what he said about Gore’s eventual choice, Joe Lieberman). At the time, I had barely heard of the Senator from North Carolina, who had at the time had two-years experience in public life. “Is he that good?” I asked Clinton. “He’s that good,” he replied.

In New Hampshire, this past year, I watched Edwards in action. Clinton was right. Edwards was better (working a room, giving a speech, moving a crowd) than anyone I'd ever seen, except Bill Clinton. He was better than Clinton was in 1988, four years before he was elected. His fundraising ability is already legendary, which was certainly one reason many Democrats favored him for the second spot. So is his empathy, his rags to riches story, his fights on behalf of average people as a trial lawyer, and the heartbreak he and his wife Elizabeth faced when they lost their teenage son to a drunken driver.

Of course Republicans will try to make hay out of the choice. They will portray Edwards as the second choice to McCain, as if that dream ticket, which they feared more than life itself, is the standard against which their own tired, conflicted, integrity-challenged, campaign-hating, language-challenged Mr. Cheney should be judged.

They will use Edwards' strengths to club Kerry, ignoring the fact that their own Number One was apparently so unsure of himself that he was unwilling to testify on his own before the 9/11 Commission, a weakness that goes well beyond being boring, and raises question about his own competence four years into his term as president. Imagine if he were selected. George Bush would have been seen to be far less qualified than John Edwards (and far less appealing).

They will argue that Edwards will upstage Kerry, which is absurd. Vice presidents, even when, like Lloyd Bentsen, they are far more popular than either their opponents or their running mates, rarely upstage either. The reality is that vice presidential candidates don’t get very much media attention once they’re selected. The drama ends tomorrow. What they can do is energize the base, raise money, and rally the troops — all of which Edwards will do splendidly.

Or they can attract negative attention by raising unwanted issues about the candidate’s judgment, as Quayle did, about their own conflicts of interests (how do you spell Halliburton?), or temperament (who said what to whom on the Senate floor?).

As for me, I’m just waiting until October 7th, when the arrogant, full-of-himself Dick Cheney, who thinks he is doing people a favor when he campaigns, meets the man who has never seen a crowd he doesn’t want to win.

John Kerry may not have won the election today, but he took a major step in that direction.

A FOX News Channel political contributor, Susan Estrich was the first woman president of the Harvard Law Review and the first woman to head a national presidential campaign (Dukakis). She is currently the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California.