Kerry’s impending VP pick seems to be a hot topic of late (e.g., Digby, Atrios, CalPundit, Matt Y.). The opinions range from Gephardt’s ok because the VP choice doesn’t really matter to (exaggerating slightly) please, God, not Gephardt. I’m sympathetic with the former camp, but siding with the latter.
Rather than spend time explaining why, I’ll let John Judis, filling in for Josh Marshall, do the work for me:
Among those prospects currently being discussed, there are only two who are sufficiently battle-tested and who could help Kerry where he may not be able to help himself. These are Edwards and Gephardt. In the primary, Edwards showed a Clintonesque ability to appeal to both of the constituencies with whom Kerry is going to have trouble–the white working class voters who used to be described as “Reagan Democrats” and the independent upscale suburbanites who have been trending Democratic, but are leery of the party’s leftwing. Edwards could help Kerry be competitive in Florida, North Carolina, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Ohio. (In a Mason-Dixon poll last month pairing Bush and Cheney against Kerry and Edwards in North Carolina, Bush was only ahead by 46 to 45 percent.) He could force the Bush campaign to expend resources in regions it would have liked to take for granted. Gephardt might help Kerry with white working class voters in Missouri, Iowa, and Ohio. But Gephardt’s appeal may be more limited than Edwards’. Gephardt is very popular among labor leaders, but, as this year’s primary made clear, not necessarily among the rank and file or among non-union workers. He would also reinforce Kerry’s image as a Washington insider, making him less attractive to upscale suburbanites.
… My advice to Kerry: forget chumminess, choose Edwards.
Gephardt is, however, the more anti-free trade choice. I’m curious: is he even appealing to my proctectionist readers?