John Kerry Chooses John Edwards for Vice President

This is Bob Doughty with In the News, in VOA Special English.

The Democratic National Convention begins July twenty-sixth in Boston. The party will officially nominate its candidates for president and vice president in the November election. This week John Kerry chose John Edwards for vice president.

The two senators competed against each other earlier this year for the nomination. But Mr. Kerry says they share values and a belief in strong international alliances and a strong military. He say they will work together to seek support from independent voters as well as Democrats.

Many people who liked John Edwards as a presidential candidate said they liked his energy and his message. He says President Bush has created "two Americas," one for the wealthy and one for everybody else.

Mr. Edwards' father was a textile worker. His mother was a letter carrier. But Mr. Edwards became a trial lawyer. He won big cases for injured people. He earned millions of dollars.

The choice for vice president is usually the first major decision for a presidential candidate. The vice president becomes president if ever the president cannot carry out the duties of office. Vice presidents also act as president of the Senate. They make the deciding vote if the Senate is evenly split.

Presidential candidates traditionally choose a vice president from another part of the country to provide geographical balance. But not always. In nineteen-ninety-two, for example, the Democrats won with two Southerners: Bill Clinton of Arkansas and Al Gore of Tennessee.

John Edwards is from the South. John Kerry is from the Northeast. Democrats say the addition of the senator from North Carolina should help Mr. Kerry win more Southern votes. They hope it will also strengthen the Kerry campaign in states where the vote is expected to be close.

These so-called battleground states include Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina and Ohio. Some people say Ohio, in the Midwest, could decide the race.

Mr. Edwards had never served in public office before North Carolina voters elected him to the Senate in nineteen-ninety-eight. He decided not to seek a second term this year. He ran for president instead, but won only a single state in the Democratic nominating elections. That was South Carolina, where he was born.

Critics say Mr. Edwards lacks political and foreign policy experience. Republicans say his Senate record is too weak and too liberal. President Bush said this week that Dick Cheney is better prepared to be president.

In any case, political experts say vice presidential candidates usually have little effect on elections. They say voters in November are likely to consider issues like the war in Iraq and the economy far more important.

In the News, in VOA Special English, was written by Cynthia Kirk. This is Bob Doughty.

Voice of America Special English

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