In the run up to the American presidential elections we will be asking a panel of voters - selected from as wide a cross-section of people as possible across the US - to share their views on the key issues.
MEET THE PANEL
Name: Linda Alston
Lives: Madison, Wisconsin
Works: Publications coordinator, currently unemployed
Current voting intention: Democrat
10 words or less: "Intuitive and analytical, often right but not always"
Choosing John Edwards as a running mate is the smartest political move John Kerry has made to date.
Edwards exemplifies the "American Dream". He is a man of working class origins who has succeeded on his own initiative.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) may label him "disingenuous" but John Edwards' populist stance is attractive to a variety of people.
His performance in the primaries and caucuses attests to that.
His role as an aggressive trial attorney who fought for "the common man" only increases that appeal.
One reason I don't fully embrace John Kerry is that I see him as a 'Washington insider' more concerned about being elected than campaigning on the issues.
As a first-term senator Edwards isn't yet an insider.
His relatively short tenure in the Senate seems to have prompted the RNC to dismiss him as an "unaccomplished liberal".
Launching an impressive presidential campaign after one term in the Senate is quite an accomplishment, especially when done without the support of so-called Washington insiders.
And Edwards is far from a liberal given his position on a number of issues, such as the war in Iraq, which he voted for, capital punishment, and the empowerment of the middle class - his pet project.
Kerry's campaign finally may be on track.
Too bad he didn't have the political acumen to solicit Edwards before he embarrassed himself by being refused by John McCain.
Perhaps now, with the issue of his running mate resolved, Kerry will stop placing politics above principles and start speaking on the issues.
Edwards brings to the campaign a willingness to take a position on the issues. Kerry can learn a lot from him.
Hopefully Kerry and Edwards will work closer together with the UN when it comes to Iraq. The current administration has yet to prove their foreign policy experience when it comes to winning support among our key allies, so far we have only been losing support. Coalition countries like Poland are totally dependent on our financial support, only the British are able to provide their own logistical support. We seem to lose all of our remaining support. Even Tony Blair tells us now that we may never find any weapons of mass destruction, seems like they will pack their stuff together soon. Edwards is a smart choice and he will definitely appeal to the common man due to his background.
Alex, Charlotte, NC
It is really interesting how the "ambulance chaser" catch-phrase is being thrown around with such liberal application. And it is sad, though nonetheless expected, that many conservative types have taken to the allure that such discourse-quashing name-calling offers without giving a thought to the fact that Cheney has a track record that tells us he has more commitments to the oil industry than to the American public. That said, I am glad someone has finally mentioned the fact that being a newcomer to Washington politics is perhaps more of a bonus than a drawback.
Neal Miller, Eugene, OR, USA
Lawyers represent themselves. Winning an accident injury case is like winning a lottery. It also should be noted that suing big companies is profitable for the Lawyer - the company often will relocate to a country where they don't have to worry about frivolous lawsuits. The result is loss of jobs and tax revenues from the community they leave. Do you really think a personal injury lawyer is the best choice for vice president?
Steven, Boston, USA
We need intelligence not strength and greed. We will have it with the Democratic party team. Besides, Bush had no international experience and had only been out of the country a few times. I too have changed party alliance and support.
Wendy Murray, Nokomis, Florida, US
First of all I believe the selection of Edwards to be an intelligent selection. He compliments the ticket. As far as experience is concerned...intelligence is by far the more important factor. Look what we got with Bush. Bush neither had the experience (international) or intelligence to function effectively as president. I too look down on John McCain for having rejected the opportunity to serve the country. I believe this to be the best selection the Democrats could have made. As an ex-Republican and one who has been very disappointed with the administration, I will now support the Democratic ticket.
Bill Murray, Nokomis, Florida, US
I agree with most of what Linda said, except I'm not so sure if his prior profession will be that helpful. As a matter of fact, it just might hurt him, depending on how it's presented. Most people that I know don't look kindly upon personal injury lawyers, so it might hurt his appeal with some voters. I agree with your assessment of Kerry as a "Washington insider". I can't help but think "old boys club" every time I see him. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if he had more personality...
Jenna, Harrisburg, IL USA
"Far from liberal?" Is this a joke! Edwards is extremely liberal; he has been rated as the 4th most liberal senator. With Kerry (THE most liberal senator), the ticket is the most liberal in US history.
Tim, Bethesda, MD, USA
I agree with Linda only insofar as choosing Edwards as his running mate is the smartest move Kerry has made to date which is a sad commentary in and of itself. Kerry is such a lacklustre candidate that he has to fall back on an empty charismatic suit. After ridiculing Edwards' credentials throughout the primary campaign he now does a complete "flip flop" and praises him to the sky. There have been no specifics from these candidates as to how they would handle terrorism, the stabilization of Iraq and the betrayal of our former allies; the French and Germans.
Solomon, New York, USA
Oh, come on Linda, when do ambulance-chasing trial lawyers like Edwards "fight for the common man?" They just collect big fees. And ever think who winds up paying for these multi-million dollar law suits? The consumer of course. How many doctors have sharks like Edwards driven from their profession by absurdly high malpractice insurance fees?
Peter C Kohler, Washington DC, USA
I wholeheartedly agree with Linda on all points, except viewing Kerry's offer to John McCain as an embarrassment to Kerry because McCain chose not accept it. The mere attempt to cross party lines is admirable in and of itself, regardless of whether or not it was successful.
Matthew Skibbs, Seattle, WA, USA
I don't agree with much said. Edwards is no hero to the common man, he is a greedy personal injury attorney turned politician. At a time when we need legal reform more than ever - kiss affordable health insurance goodbye - personal injury attorneys are the reason for the current crisis. He is exactly what we do not need in the White House.
Fowler Del Porto, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
I agree with Linda only insofar as choosing Edwards as his running mate is the smartest move Kerry has made to date, which is a sad commentary in and of itself. After ridiculing Edwards' credentials throughout the primary campaign he now does a complete "flip flop" and praises him to the sky. There have been no specifics from these candidates as to how they would handle terrorism, the stabilisation of Iraq and the betrayal of our former allies: the French and Germans.
Solomon, New York, USA
Unfortunately neither candidate is good enough to lead this country let alone the world but Bush and his experienced team is best able at this difficult time. Looking at Europe, they certainly have no reason to criticise the USA.
John Raymond, Little Rock, USA
I agree with Linda. John Kerry's 'Washington insiderness' is a factor. John Edwards really appeals to me, Kerry does also, but knowing his Yale background, I just wonder if some of his presidential decisions will be somewhat similar to Bush. Regardless, I will vote Democrat this year, America has more to lose with Bush in office. We need immediate change.
Rem O'Donnelley, San Francisco Bay Area, USA
I agree with her comments. It is a good choice. I have a lot of friends who support a Kerry/Edwards ticket. But living in Utah, a strong republican state, the electoral college system does not give us a chance to have any impact on democratic ticket. I prefer the British parliamentary system.
M Maung, Centerville, Utah, USA
Edwards adds to an already great ticket. Kerry's veteran status and international knowledge is what we need to attempt to regain our democratic principles that Bush has squandered. Edwards is a dramatic positive counter to Cheney.
Marty Floyd, Cheneyville, Louisiana, USA
Why is it that Kerry would choose such a running mate? Edwards is the better candidate for president. Kerry seems so political and Edwards seems so happy, like a kid in a candy store with money to spend and nobody is telling him what to buy. We chose the wrong candidate with Kerry. God help the USA.
Andy Russell, Wales, Utah, USA
I agree with everything you say, except that I do not think Kerry embarrassed himself by being refused by John McCain. I think it's the other way round. It should be considered an honour to be VP.
Monika, CT, USA