Byline: Donald Lambro, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The biggest difference between the vice-presidential candidates, besides age, is their experience in public office. Vice President Dick Cheney, 63, has a lengthy, high-level government resume. Freshman Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, 51, is just getting started.
Mr. Cheney has been White House chief of staff, secretary of defense, a Republican leader and five-term member of Congress, and vice president of the United States. Mr. Edwards, on the other hand, has been elected only once to his current office, declining to seek a second six-year term this year because polls showed that he was not likely to win.
However, Democratic strategists yesterday said Mr. Edwards was an energetic, hard-hitting campaigner who gives the ticket a fresh face and a trim, youthful image, in sharp contrast to the older Mr. Cheney, who has experienced heart trouble and has a defibrillator in his chest.
"I think Edwards will bring a great deal of enthusiasm to this ticket, a sense of the future and the younger generation and an ability to connect with voters that he proved in the primaries," said Harold Ickes, a close adviser to former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.
Other Democrats said that Mr. Cheney has been hurt by his role as the former head of Halliburton, the oil-pipeline supply company that received no-bid contracts in Iraq, and that there have been rumors about whether he could be dropped from the ticket. President Bush has said Mr. Cheney's place on the ticket is secure, and the vice president has been keeping a busy campaign schedule.
Still, Democrats yesterday did not dismiss the vast differences between the running mates, and some agreed that Mr. Edwards would be vulnerable to Republican attacks about his inexperience, but said his political talents will help him overcome them.
"Will there be some criticism about his foreign policy experience? There's no question about it," Mr. Ickes said. "But there are other factors that will offset that so-called lack of experience. I'm told that Edwards is very smart and a very fast study."
The differences between running mates have been further highlighted by the men who picked them. Mr. Bush, whose national security and foreign policy credentials were minimal in 2000, chose Mr. Cheney because of his deep experience in both areas, which have been critical in helping to set national security policy since the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Earlier this year, however, Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, who chose Mr. Edwards yesterday, severely criticized the one-term senator for his lack of defense and foreign policy credentials.
"I think the American people want an experienced hand at the helm of state. This is not the time for on-the-job training in the White House on national security issues," Mr. Kerry said of his then-Democratic presidential rival during the primaries in February. …