Of all the potential running mates mentioned for Obama, John Edwards is the most well known. Despite his notoriety, this edition of Pros and Cons will look at the prospects for an Obama/Edwards ticket.
Resume: John Edwards was born in South Carolina, but spent most of his childhood in North Carolina. He earned his bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University, and his law degree from the University of North Carolina. Starting in 1984, Edwards won a series of medical malpractice lawsuits. In 1985, Edwards won a precedent setting case in North Carolina for a child born with cerebral palsy because doctors ignored the fetal monitor and did perform a Cesarean section right away. The case established the liability of doctors and hospitals for not explaining the risks of a medical procedure. This case brought Edwards national attention.
He started his own law firm in 1993 with friend David Kirby, and won the biggest case of his career in 1997 against Sta-Rite the maker of a defective pool drain cover that disemboweled a five year old girl. Edwards left law and won a Senate seat in 1998. In the Senate, Edwards co-sponsored 203 bills, and was the man charge of deposing witnesses Monica Lewinsky and Vernon Jordan for the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton.
Edwards became nationally known as a politician during his 2004 presidential campaign, where he finished second to eventual Democratic nominee John Kerry and was later selected as Kerry’s running mate. Edwards ran for president again in 2008, but he wasn’t able to financially compete with Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Except for a second place finish in Iowa, Edwards finished a distant third everywhere else. Out of money, and having no momentum, he ended his presidential campaign on January 30, 2008.
Pros to Obama Picking Edwards: Edwards has managed to reshape himself as a blue collar economic populist. Looking back at his 2008 primary campaign, one can see that Edwards’s focus on the economy, healthcare, and poverty was ahead of the curve. His base of support is white men. This is the only demographic that Obama trails John McCain with. Edwards would help Obama in states like Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania where the economy is the number one concern. He is an experienced national campaigner who would bring real star power to the ticket. For many Democrats, Obama/Edwards are the real dream ticket.
Cons to Obama Picking Edwards: John Edwards was unable to catch fire with Democratic voters in 2008, this along with the fact that he was on the national ticket in 2004 raises a question about Edwards being damaged goods? Edwards’s critics have labeled him a pretty boy elitist. The charges of elitism are something that Obama has been battling since the Pennsylvania primary, and the selection of Edwards could make it a central attack of the fall campaign. Edwards has apologized for his vote in favor of the Iraq war, but he also voted for the Patriot Act. He lacks foreign policy experience, and having only served one term in the Senate, experience in general.
Odds of Obama Choosing Edwards: The odds are pretty strong that Obama could select Edwards. He is one of the few names that are known to be on Obama’s short list. The decision on Edwards probably comes down to whether or not the campaign feels like they need a running mate that will boost Obama’s credibility with foreign policy. If they decide that foreign policy experience is a must, then Edwards will not be chosen. I think he is definitely in Obama’s top 5, and maybe even his top 3. If Edwards isn’t chosen, and Obama goes on to victory, it is a virtual lock that he will be the next Attorney General of the United States.
The Choice-O-Meter says:
(OOOOOOO) 7 Os for John Edwards
1 O = No Chance – 10 O’s = A Sure Thing
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association