St. Petersburg Times

Questions on the Democratic ticket?
John Kerry with John Edwards.
Times political writers Adam Smith and Bill Adair answered reader questions about the announcement that John Kerry has selected Sen. John Edwards as his running mate. Read the questions and answers below.

Times election coverage
Politics townhall: message board

Latest questions and answers:

Question: I've heard television commentators say, "Edwards doesn't have the experience that Cheney has -- and Edwards is too young for the vice presidency."

Cheney's "experience and age" took us to a premeditated and an unnecessary war against Iraq. Cheney's "experience and age" makes him stubbornly adhere to the lie that Saddam Hussein had a connection to the 9/11 tragedy. And Cheney's "experience and age" burdens our country with the Haliburton and energy tycoonery.

So, my question is, "Why is Cheney being held in high esteem as the "experienced' and the "elder'?" The Kerry/Edwards ticket will be a refreshing change to an administration that has put America at odds with the American people, and the world. The Kerry/Edwards ticket will put America back on the right track to decency, honor and might.

Bill Adair: Remember -- one reason Bush chose Cheney four years ago was to counter criticism that Bush had little experience in defense and foreign policy. Cheney WAS seen as the elder who brought "gravitas" to Bush.

You can be sure that the Republicans will play up Cheney's experience now that Kerry has picked Edwards. This morning, the party issued a statement on Edwards that said he was "unaccomplished and inexperienced" and recalled a comment Kerry made several months ago: "In the Senate four years -- and that is the full extent of public life -- no international experience, no military experience, you can imagine what the advertising is going to be next year," Kerry said, adding with a grin: "When I came back from Vietnam in 1969 I don't know if John Edwards was out of diapers then. Well, I'm sure he was out of diapers."

Question: So where does this leave Bob Graham? What are his career and political options now that he wasn't picked as Kerry's running mate.

Bill Adair: Graham had already announced he was retiring from the Senate, so it won't affect those plans. He has often been mentioned as a possible Cabinet secretary in a Kerry administration. Among the possibilities are the Departments of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice or even the Central Intelligence Agency. He has already begun work to establish an institute in his name, probably at the University of Miami.

Question: Do you think adding John Edwards will help or hurt Kerry's chances of taking Florida in the election? Is there another would-be candidate who would have made more impact in Florida?

Adam Smith: Many people speculated that Florida Sen. Bob Graham would be the best equipped to clinch Florida for Kerry. I'm not so sure about that. A lot of Democratic activists were rooting for Edwards as the running mate, seeing him as much more charismatic and exciting than Graham. We did a poll in March that showed that Graham would not help Kerry in Florida any more than Edwards as running mate.

Florida looks like a dead heat that neither side can take for granted. But I'd have to say that Edwards helps Kerry in Florida. He excites a lot of hard-core Democrats and has shown in North Carolina an ability to win over moderates. And unlike Kerry, Edwards should make for an effective campaigner among the conservative Southern voters in north Florida.

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