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: Laura Stietz
Lives: Sidney, New York
Works: Law student
Current voting intention: Republican
In 10 words or less:
"Definite Republican, mother, George Bush supporter, politics and law enthusiast"
John Kerry's choice for running mate was his second pick.
He originally wanted to endorse Senator John McCain but McCain turned him down.
I do not believe that people will vote for a candidate based on his vice presidential choice anyway.
I do believe, however, that John Edwards does not have enough experience and will not be able to compete in a head to head contest with Dick Cheney.
Edwards would not make a better VP than Cheney simply because Cheney is for the American people and wants what is best for the American people.
I believe Edwards is just like Kerry - he says one thing and does another.
Edwards was for the war, then he was against any funding for the war, so what does he really want?
Kerry's VP announcement will have no impact on the election whatsoever because, like I said, the people do not vote for the VP.
Another drawback for Edwards is that he does not have any military background, so how does he expect to fight the war on terror?
Everything Mr Bush has worked so hard for will go down the drain.
Kerry-Edwards will be no challenge to Bush-Cheney and I believe this administration is ready for them.
This is a no contest in November. Bush-Cheney will prevail.
People say that John Edwards lacks experience, yet most people don't remember that when George W Bush ran for president, he was a one term governor. If Bush supporters are going to use inexperience as their argument against John Edwards being picked as the VP nominee, they should step back and take a look at where they were four years ago.
McAfee, Houston, USA
Her reason for preferring Cheney to Edwards is "Cheney is for the American people and wants what is best for the American people". That is one in-depth, lucid, thought-provoking candidate comparison.
Kara, NYC, USA
Laura is typical of many Bush supporters. They make their decisions based on bias. If Bush said the US was to invade Sweden to protect freedom she would support him. The arguments she puts forward are laughable. She has obviously not looked into the background of Bush or she wouldn't say Edwards lacks experience. Cheney for the American people? She should be on Saturday Night Live.
Nicholas Haglington, Fukuoka, Japan
Regarding Ms. Steitz's comments on Edwards' lack of military experience: I was Active Duty Air Force (no Texas National Guard here) for four years, so does that make me an ideal candidate to be president?
Heather, DC, USA
Was George Bush "experienced enough" after six years being governor of Texas (Edwards has been a Senator for six years)? While Edwards is equal in experience to Bush in his political background, his personal experience far outstrips Bush. Bush was a was born into his wealth. Edwards rose from a middle class background, through his own hard work, to become a successful professional. When it comes to life experience, and previous political experience, I will take John Edwards over Mr Bush every time.
Sean Kelly, Niagara Falls, NY, USA
To Heather in DC: Your logic is terribly flawed. You can't even ask that question because you aren't in the political realm. The idea is that politicians running this country should have military experience, not that every military person should be president. And to Sean Kelly, when you say you will take Edwards over Bush any day, are you referring to another country's election because I believe here in the US it is Kerry vs. Bush. So you go vote for Edwards over Bush.
David, Seattle, USA
I find the lack of tenure is one aspect that makes Edwards so appealing. He has not been in the cut-throat political game as long as Cheney and hopefully hasn't been corrupted as of yet.
Carrie , Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
Ms. Stietz mentions twice that "the people do not vote for the VP." Her statement is contrary to her sentiment, however, when she compares Edwards to Cheney, a vice-presidential candidate who played an important role in the 2000 election. In 2000, pundits considered Cheney's experience and intelligence as paramount to the Bush campaign's success. Similarly, Edwards' charisma and innovative policies will push Kerry to the top.
David, Tenafly, NJ
The country is split right down the middle. There seem to be very few moderates on either side of the fence. It is distressing that our country has become so polarized. John Kerry's VP choice merely reinforces this.
Carolyn, Louisville, KY, USA
Laura's comments are interesting because, depressing as that is, they represent the majority of the country which has bought the administration's line that the "war on terror" is the only thing that matters; that Iraq is the center of global terrorism; that the US must fight on alone if need be despite world opinion; and that anything the administration does is justified because of the need to fight terrorism.
If, on the other hand, you believe that the "war on terror" is primarily an Orwellian replacement for the cold war, that the Iraq occupation is a needless pursuit of Bush's personal agenda and that US administration's insularity from its allies is foolish and dangerous, then Laura, and the American electorate, looks alarmingly naive.
David Burney, Brooklyn, New York
Edwards may not have had any military experience, but at least he registered for the draft. The only problem was that by the time he was eighteen, the military was decreasing troop levels in Vietnam. Thus Edwards has as much military experience has Dick Cheney.
Pavitra Pandey, Rancho Cucamonga, CA, USA
The "lack of experience" mantra is typical Republican hypocrisy. You voted for Bush, did you not? Bush only had 4 years experience in politics - in fact, Orin Hatch said in 1999 that Bush would be better as a VP due to his lack of experience. Second, the war is not all there is. Again, take your blinders off and look at the big picture, not just the war du jour that your Lord and Saviour King George wants you to take notice of.
Third, everything Bush has worked so hard for will go down the drain? Yes, and good riddance. The PATRIOT act is far from patriotic, Bush has been the most divisive president this country has ever known, Bush has ruined education and trashed the environment all while giving huge contracts to his business buddies. I think we can afford to lose that kind of crap.
Paul, Dallas TX USA
I really can't comprehend why in this day and age we're hung up on military service for our presidents. I don't remember Lincoln, FDR, or even Reagan in a uniform (Ironically Carter, everyone's favourite lefty, was in the Navy) As far as war time presidents go, Nixon, and LBJ were both wartime presidents and it didn't work out so well for anyone in those cases.
"Another drawback for Edwards is that he does not have any military background, so how does he expect to fight the war on terror?" The fact that Bush and Cheney both avoided fighting during the Vietnam war, whereas Kerry did his duty and Edwards was too young, would seem to suggest the answer to this question is Kerry and Edwards. Or am I missing something ?
J F M, London, UK
To say that Edwards hasn't enough experience appears in my mind to be overlooking the fact that he actually has more foreign and domestic credentials than George W Bush had when he won the presidency. What other democracy in the world would vote for a man who had never even left the borders of his own country? Ignorance of politics always plays into the hands of those wishing to manipulate the populace.
Jon Walton, MI, USA
I am surprised at Laura's comments considering she is a "political and law enthusiast". Is she aware that while Edwards may not have been Kerry's first choice, Cheney was not George W.'s first choice either? Is she aware that while Edwards lacks the military experience necessary to wage the War on Terror, that Dick Cheney (the man she states is "for America") had SEVERAL deferments from the draft during Vietnam? Does she believe that George W.'s Air National Guard experience is proving crucial to the War on Terror? As for waffling, is she aware that George W.'s stance in regards to finding Osama bin Laden, nation building, and the need for multi-lateral backing in the war in Iraq are huge contradictions? There are many decent arguments that could made against Edwards' qualifications for VP, but Laura made none of them.
Robert K., Wheaton, MD, USA
I love how hawkish Republicans love to call out Democrats when it comes to lack of military service, but refuse to see the cowardice within their own ranks. In America, we call these wimpy warmongers "chickenhawks." Mrs Stietz claims that Edwards' lack of service is a drawback. Was it so much a drawback for our current vice president, Dick Cheney, who claimed he had "other priorities" instead of serving in the Vietnam War? Cheney has never worn a uniform, either.
Mark Goode, Monterey, California, USA
I cannot understand why John Edwards' limited political experience should be an issue with anybody when George Bush run for president with absolutely no experience in the last election and won for that matter. John Kerry's choice of vice president will inject much needed vibrancy into an institution that has been mired in controversy, bordering on disrepute in the last decade. John Edwards is exactly what the USA needs, an outsider with a sense of the lay of the land.
Kobby, Arlington, USA
Please think with discrimination and be original. You seem to be brainwashed by the Republicans' empty boasts and fear of an upstanding and courageous leader like John Edwards. I think Edwards is exactly what the US people need - he is for their welfare rather than for the profits of big companies.
RKM, Auburn, Alabama, USA
Laura, Edwards has at least as much experience as George W had when he ran for president. So, Kerry-Edwards is an opposite pairing compared to Bush-Cheney. I would rather have an experienced president than an experienced VP. People talk about the VP in terms of "can he be president?" Well, why not ask that question about the person running for president?
Ian Costello, East Lansing, MI, USA
Laura says that Edwards does not have a military background and therefore could not fight the war on terror. This is a completely flawed point. To begin with President Bush's own military record is highly questionable and yet Laura seems more than pleased with his 'hard work' in the fight against terrorism. Secondly, it is the President, not the Vice President that will take the lead in fighting terror - therefore Edwards' military record is not an issue - Kerry's is, and that has been proven in Vietnam.
Matt, London, UK
No experience? No military background? Sounds a lot like Bush. I think it is laughable to hear neo-conservatives question his experience when their president lacked (and still lacks) the same qualities. I can't wait until Kerry and Edwards kick out Bush, the ultimate flip-flopper.
Karsten Halusa, Alexandria, Virginia, USA
My fellow Republican Party member, Ms Stietz, needs to spend less time listening to sound bites and more time getting the whole story. Our duty as American citizens demands that we carefully examine the candidates based on all the information available. Not blindly support the nominees put forward by our party.
Abraham, Oxford, USA
I agree that people don't vote for a candidate based on his vice presidential choice. I disagree when people say John Edwards is inexperienced. He's got plenty of experience despite his short life in politics.
Jon Gudnason, London, UK