Cheney, Edwards finding some middle ground

The vice presidential candidates have been adopting some of the campaign styles of each other.


Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne wave at supporters Sunday after addressing a rally at Romulus High School in Romulus, Mich.

The Associated Press
Published: Monday, November 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 31, 2004 at 9:59 p.m.
DULUTH, Minn. - A funny thing is happening on the way to Election Day: The stiff Dr. Doom has loosened up, and Mr. Sunshine is channeling his inner attack dog.
To be sure, no one would ever mistake Vice President Dick Cheney for Sen. John Edwards, the man who wants his job. But at the end of an increasingly bitter campaign, Edwards and Cheney are finding some strategic and stylistic middle ground.
On the strategic front, the two men are focusing on the same seven electoral battlegrounds. While they have not set foot in the same city at the same time, more often than not they're at least in the same state on the same day.
As for style, even the dour Cheney has adopted a bit of humor, serving up pithy but barbed Western sayings to describe Sen. John F. Kerry's efforts to look tough on national security: "You can put all the lipstick you want on that pig, but at the end of the day, it's still a pig."
At an airport rally in Montouorsville, Pa., Friday, the audience roared, hooting, cheering and applauding. "That's one of my favorite lines," said an amused Cheney. More shouts. A request for an encore. "You want to hear it again?" he chuckled and complied.
For his part, the ever-smiling Edwards has turned up the rhetorical heat, focusing on the 377 tons of high-grade explosives Democrats say went missing in Iraq on President Bush's watch."And what did George Bush say about this?" Edwards asked at several events. "He said that John Kerry won't support the troops. What in the world is he talking about? Aren't you sick and tired of George Bush and Dick Cheney using our troops as a shield to protect their own jobs instead of protecting our troops?"
Paul C. Light, professor of public service at New York University and author of several scholarly texts on the vice presidency, argues that "both VP candidates have played the hatchet man to a T," successfully fulfilling the role Richard Nixon invented half a century ago.
But the two men are mostly a study in contrasts. While the Kerry campaign has used Edwards to reach out to a wide universe of voters, Cheney generally is rolled out to energize Bush's conservative base.
The Edwards children are showcased for their cuddliness. Think Jack, 4, and Emma Claire, 6, cavorting on the campaign plane Saturday, or Cate, 22, describing Edwards at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, two days earlier: "To me he's just Dad . . . who I turn to for advice and who completely embarrasses me every time he tries to dance."
But vice presidential daughter Mary Cheney largely stays off camera; the campaign says the back seat's her preference. When she is mentioned at all, it is generally by the Democrats, who like to note at least obliquely that she is a lesbian in a party not considered kindly disposed to homosexuals.
Edwards campaigns with members of People magazine's A and B lists, as he reaches out to women and young people. Thursday in Iowa it was Hollywood heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio; pop star Jon Bon Jovi has serenaded rallies for two days.
Edwards rarely campaigns with wife Elizabeth, who holds her own on the campaign trail.
Cheney, in contrast, tends to be a lone campaign horseman - no sports stars, no entertainers, no policy wonks at his side. The main exception of late is wife Lynne.
Also a skilled solo stumper, she has been appearing with her husband on an 11th-hour mission to humanize him.
"Cheney in the attack mode is pretty grim. You don't know whether you are attending a funeral or a rally," Light said. "He's very grim, serious, foreboding, and Edwards has a positive, forward spin in his argument. He's more cheerful. He's done a nice job wielding the ax."

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