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Kerry/Edwards, never a match made in heaven

January 10, 2008 |  3:57 pm

John Kerry today went to the state where John Edwards was born, South Carolina, to endorse someone else in the Democratic presidential race: Barack Obama.

A major-league diss? Yes. A surprise? Hardly.

Our colleague, Jim Rainey, recently spent time with Kerry to produce a rich piece updating the activities -- and aspirations -- of the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee. And following Kerry's implicit rejection of Edwards, he offered these thoughts:

Kerry's relationship with Edwards has been strained, in some respects, since the early stage of the last presidential race, when the younger and more naturally-gifted pol threatened, first, to overtake Kerry during the primaries and, then, to overshadow him in the general election.

Edwards never embraced the traditional role of the vice presidential candidate to mount serious attacks on the opposite ticket (President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney), Kerry's team believed. They also felt Edwards never adapted to the No. 2's role of deferring to the top of the ticket.

"I had to constantly call their road show ...

and remind them that Edwards was running for vice president, not president," said one top Kerry aide from the '04 race.

Those and other disagreements might have been smoothed over if the Democrats had not dropped Ohio by 118,000 votes, thus sealing the reelection to the Bush-Cheney ticket.

Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, argued angrily that the results in Ohio should have been challenged based on reports that, among other problems, voters in Democratic strongholds were turned away from inadequately-staffed and overcrowded polling places.

Kerry and party lawyers believed that, despite some irregularities, the final results were likely to withstand a legal challenge.

Almost immediately after the loss, Edwards began campaigning for 2008, breaking a pledge Kerry believed he had secured that his running mate would not bid for the presidency until Kerry had decided whether to run again.

A close friend said Kerry seethed about what he believed was a betrayal. For his part, the Massachusetts senator declined in an interview last month to discuss his relationship with Edwards, saying: "I don't know where all this stuff comes from. All that stuff is in the past. I want to move on."

And so he has, tying at least a portion of his political fortunes to Obama.

-- Don Frederick

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