a man who has shown "guts, determination and political skill,"
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., announced that fellow senator John Edwards
would join him as his running mate.
"This campaign for the presidency really began two years
ago. Throughout those two years as well as four years before that,
I have worked with John Edwards side by side and sometimes head
to head," Kerry said in announcing his selection of Edwards
on July 6. "I've seen John Edwards think, argue, advocate,
legislate and lead for six years now. I know his skill. I know
his passion. I know his strength. I know his conscience. I know
his faith. ... He is ready for this job."
the first-term North Carolina senator, experts said Kerry was
acknowledging the surprisingly strong showing by Edwards in the
Democratic primary fight.
political unknown, Edwards rode a positive message of working
to bridge the differences between the "two Americas"
-- one for the privileged and one for everyone else -- to an unexpectedly
strong second place finish in the Iowa caucus.
disappointing fourth in New Hampshire, Edwards stuck with his
positive message, not attacking front-runner John Kerry, or others.
In South Carolina, he eked out a win and soon emerged as the strongest
rival to the more experienced Massachusetts senator.
hard. Even on the eve of what turned out to be the fatal March
2 Super Tuesday contests that ended his campaign, Edwards was
careful to gently outline his differences.
saying [Kerry] comes from a different background. I mean, he's
a good man. He's a good candidate. He'd make a good president.
And I'd be the first to say that. But we come from different places,
and we present different choices," Edwards said during a
Feb. 26 debate on CNN.
In the end,
the Edwards campaign lacked the resources and support to carry
on the fight after being swept on Super Tuesday.
But with his
departure from the primary contest, Edwards' political star appeared
Edwards ... elevated politics and made his listeners feel it was
more important than in the past, in terms of not simply comforting
the comfortable but John Edwards reminded all of us that we had
responsibilities to each other, especially to those who were poor
and those whose skin color was different from our own," syndicated
columnist Mark Shields said on the day Edwards dropped out of
Democratic primaries, Republicans focused on Edwards' lack of
policy experience and his trial lawyer past.
speech today was policy free. He didn't take the opportunity to
promote a policy he had belief in with the depth of his heart.
And I think that was the shallowness of the campaign," New
York Times columnist David Brooks said of Edwards' departure speech.
"It was fantastic to watch. It was like a cruise romance,
fun and exciting but lacked a certain depth because of the policy
about Edwards' presidential aspirations date back to the 2000
campaign, when then Vice President Al Gore mentioned the North
Carolina senator's name as his second choice for a running mate
on the Democratic ticket.
charismatic politician with deep Southern roots, began 2003 as
a top contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, and
before the election season was even under way, several magazines
-- People, the New Yorker and the New Republic, among others --
had published profiles of the senator.
But as the
campaign dragged on, Edwards was overshadowed by outspoken former
Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and the more experienced Kerry. By late
2003, Edwards was trailing badly in the polls.
were some very dark hours in November and December when folks
inside and outside the campaign really wondered, you know, whether
this was possible. And a month later, there we were in Iowa, and
in the last days or hours before the caucus, suddenly shoots from
the bottom of the pack up to No. 2," Mark Johnson of the
Charlotte Observer told the NewsHour.
in Iowa spoke to the senator's dogged determination to overcome
adversity and the lawyerly powers of persuasion he brought to
the campaign trail.
tells his story of growing up in North Carolina as the son of
a textile mill worker and a postal service employee, and has said
he believes his modest upbringing resonates with working class
voters -- one of the Democratic Party's core constituencies.
Born in Seneca,
S.C., Edwards moved with his family to Robbins, N.C., as a boy
and attended public school there. His parents belonged to labor
unions, and Edwards was the first in his family to earn a college
degree. After graduating from North Carolina State University
in 1974, Edwards went on to earn a law degree from the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
law in Tennessee for a few years, Edwards and his wife Elizabeth
returned to North Carolina where he began to practice trial law
at a plaintiff's firm. From the beginning Edwards had enormous
success as a trial lawyer, earning large sums for his clients
in negligence and malpractice claims. A fellow attorney told the
Boston Globe that Edwards "then and now he had almost a Clintonesque
ability to understand a complex subject and break it down to very
in several high-profile cases, Edwards' courtroom career culminated
in 1997 when he won North Carolina's largest personal injury verdict
ever for a young girl who had been permanently disabled by a swimming
legal career proved very profitable, enabling him to self-finance
much of his political campaigns, Republicans have always tried
to make it a liability, especially during Edwards' presidential
run in 2003 and 2004.
won't elect John Edwards president for the same reason we've never
elected a used car salesman president," said GOP pollster
Frank Luntz. "America hates trial lawyers."
to Edwards, it was his identification with his clients' suffering
coupled with a personal tragedy that strengthened his conviction
to fight on their behalf in public office.
occurred in 1996, when his 16-year-old son Wade was killed in
a car accident. Edwards had not spoken at length of the effects
the accident had on him until recently in his memoir, "Four
In the book,
Edwards describes his grief and how his personal identification
with his clients' suffering strengthened his conviction to fight
on their behalf. Although Edwards has now publicly shared his
loss, he still often turned away questions as to how the tragedy
affected his political career.
personal and private to me, and I don't want to talk about it,"
Edwards consistently said while running for president.
It was not
long after Wade's death that Edwards entered politics in a first-time
bid to oust Republican incumbent Sen. Lauch Faircloth. Able to
personally finance much of his own campaign, Edwards easily won
the primary election and waged a vigorous struggle against the
first-term conservative senator. Edwards developed an African-American
and metropolitan voter base with a populist-appeal ad campaign
and went on to win the 1998 election, garnering 51 percent of
the vote to Faircloth's 47 percent.
no time making an impression in Washington. The Nation magazine
highlighted him early on as a "progressive" legislator,
and his colleagues considered his arguments during the impeachment
trial so moving that Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, S.D.,
chose him as one of three Democratic senators to preside over
craft the Patients' Bill of Rights, though he was unsuccessful
in seeing it through to become law. He also sits on the Judiciary
and Select Intelligence committees.
national security, Edwards has built a record as a moderate. He
voted in favor of the Patriot Act, the creation of the Department
of Homeland Security and the Iraq war resolution, but did not
maintain as high a profile in pushing these through to passage
as did fellow candidates Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Conn., and Rep.
Richard Gephardt, Mo. Edwards' subsequent criticisms of Attorney
General John Ashcroft and President Bush caused the most serious
flaps of his campaign, since he supported the initiatives he now
criticizes the two men for handling.
that Ashcroft has abused the powers granted him under the USA
Patriot Act, repeatedly calling for a moratorium on Justice Department
searches of public library records. The attorney general denies
ever using the authorization.
also faced repeated questions about the inconsistency between
his vow to "vote for what needs to be there to support our
troops" at the time of the Iraq war resolution and his recent
vote against President Bush's emergency supplemental request of
$87 billion. Edwards claims that the spending bill was "a
blank check" and that denying it would force the president
to present Congress with a clarified strategy.
In the fall
of 2003, Edwards announced he would not seek reelection to his
Senate seat in 2004, in order to devote his attention on winning
the Democratic nomination.
Methodist, and his wife Elizabeth have three children: daughter
Cate, 21, a student at Princeton University, Emma Claire, 5, and
By the Online NewsHour