Novak claimed Kerry advisers do not "take seriously" Edwards's ability to help ticket in the South

››› ››› MARCIA KUNTZ

In a July 8 column published in The Washington Post and the Chicago Sun-Times, syndicated columnist and CNN Crossfire co-host Robert Novak suggested and then rejected possible reasons for Senator John Kerry's (D-MA) selection of Senator John Edwards (D-NC) as his vice-presidential running mate. Among the reasons Novak dismissed was the possibility that Edwards would help the ticket in the South. Novak wrote: "Nor do Kerry's advisers take seriously the notion that Edwards, who looked like a loser for re-election in his own state, North Carolina, before he dropped out this year, can win Southern electoral votes against George W. Bush."

Yet according to a July 8 Washington Post article by Post staff writer Jim VandeHei: "The Edwards pick instantly changed the campaign's political calculation, as Kerry unveiled a television ad in North Carolina, a state the Democrats had not planned to contest without the home-state senator on the ticket."

Novak's evaluation of a Kerry-Edwards ticket has evidently changed since March. As Media Matters for America previously noted, on the March 4 edition of CNN's Inside Politics, Novak said of Edwards: "[T]here's one poll that shows him beating George Bush in North Carolina and that's a good ticket to come to the table with if he wants to be vice president."

Novak wasn't alone in thinking that adding Edwards to the ticket could change the outcome in North Carolina. On May 18, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported -- under the headline "N.C. could swing left if Edwards on ticket" -- that, with Edwards on the Democratic ticket, North Carolina "would be a tossup." And, as Media Matters for America also previously noted, several political experts expressed the view that Edwards might well make the ticket competitive in the South. A July 8 Washington Post article by staff writer Mike Allen quoted Emory University professor Merle Black, whom the Post identified as "an authority on southern politics," as saying that because of Edwards, the Bush-Cheney campaign is "going to have to work for states they carried rather easily four years ago, and they already had no margin for error."

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2004 Elections
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