John Edwards brings a lot to the Democratic ticket—charm, new electoral opportunities in the South and rural Midwest, a working-class background, outsider credentials—but the most significant thing he brings to John Kerry's campaign is a message. In picking Edwards, Kerry tacitly acknowledged one of the most persistent criticisms of his campaign—that it lacked a coherent vision. Kerry basically admitted this on Tuesday, when he publicly announced his decision.
When the new Republican Congress was sworn in last January, the South finally conquered Washington. The defeated Democratic leadership had been almost exclusively from the Northeast, the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest, with Speaker Tom Foley of Washington, Majority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri and Majority Whip David Bonior of Michigan in the House, and, on the Senate side, Majority Leader George Mitchell from Maine. The only Southerner in the Democratic congressional leadership was Senate Majority Whip Wendell Ford of Kentucky.