The new Democratic ticket held its first public appearance this morning, that 8:30 am ET photo-op at the Heinz farm in Fox Chapel, Pa. Sens. Kerry and Edwards then hop to rallies in Cleveland (10:30 am ET), Dayton (3:30 pm ET), and St. Petersburg, Fla. (10:00 pm ET).
B. What veep launch pitfalls have they avoided (so far . . . )?
1. Nary a discouraging word from within the party about The Pick -- and nothing at all (think Lieberman, 2000) from any of the party's wings about unhappiness with Edwards. In fact, except for Chris "I'm a Rookie" Heinz and Ed "Yes, I Really Was the DNC Chair" Rendell, no Democrat has been heard to utter a discouraging word about John Edwards for months.
2. Despite efforts to find distance between them, the press has found only thin gruel to show any meaningful issues conflicts between the top and bottom of the ticket (again, think Lieberman and Gore in 2000 and how much of the early coverage was about that).
3. The kind of bad Pick analysis that the media savvy E.J. Dionne realizes would have flowed had Gephardt been selected and not launched superhumanly:
"Kerry would have been described as 'insecure' at the prospect of standing next to the 'charismatic' and 'populist' Edwards. Fearing being 'upstaged' by the equally ambitious Edwards, Kerry would have been accused of making the 'obvious,' 'uninspired' and 'comfortable' choice. Gephardt's experience would have been trotted out to turn him into the 'tired' face of the 'old' Democratic Party. It would also have been said that Kerry, the 'elitist Massachusetts liberal,' had 'written off' the South and rural America."
4. Any of the rah rah being diluted by things like Edwards' past Senate votes or failure to vote in some elections or other stuff like that (think Dick Cheney and Nelson Mandela, or Jack Kemp and the gold standard.)
5. No media chants of "who is this guy?" (think Vilsack) and little press credence in any Quayle comparisons.
C. What is still possible to come?
1. Investigative work on old and new aspects of Edwards' background.
2. More on the implications for Senator Clinton, Al Gore, and Howard Dean for '08 and '12.
3. More of a sense of how Nader and Nader followers will react to this.
4. What happens to Tar Heel Thursdays? LINK
5. Scrutiny of Edwards' biggest cases (The man had a knack for representing sympathetic clients.).
6. Edwards' Tennessee days.
7. What Edwards can do in rural Ohio.
8. The insiders' favorite: who will win the battle between the campaign team pre-selected by the Kerry campaign for the veep-in-waiting and the big group of Edwards for President campaign staffers who are ready, willing, and able to move in and take over?
9. The stealthy release of the Faircloth, Dean, Gore 2000, RNC and/or Johnson research files on Edwards.
10. A substantive, important nationwide debate on tort reform. Okay: don't hold your breath for that, but how about -- who actually pours more money into this thing now, trial lawyers or Big Business?
11. A record-setting number of "They Said It" e-mails from the Republican National Committee (?)
12. Re-screening of that (in)famous "Meet the Press" interview and the breath-holding for a potential national security gaffe that changes the race. Pop quiz, anyone?
D. What's up with John Wagner?