In Tight Race, Cheney-Edwards Debate Takes On New Importance
Following John Kerry's now much-heralded debate performance last week, reporters and political analysts are saying tonight's joint appearance by Vice President Cheney and Democratic running mate John Edwards has grown in significance, with all concerned expecting a "stark contrast." Democrats had early on cast the debate as a clash between "Darth Vader" and "Luke Skywalker," portraying Cheney as an ominous bete noir in contrast to the younger, more telegenic Edwards. However, media reports suggest Edwards' partisans are now playing the expectations game, building up Cheney's influence within the Administration and long experience in Washington. For instance, USA Today reports Democrats "were giddy with anticipation" about the debate in July, but "Edwards strategists and aides who helped Sen. Joe Lieberman prepare to debate Cheney in 2000 warn that the vice president is a skilled and effective performer, particularly in the seated-at-a-table format being used again this year." But Edwards advisers "underline that Edwards has an advantage Lieberman did not have: Cheney now has a nearly four-year record that he'll have to defend." The AP says the White House "is counting on Cheney to deliver a solid, steady performance to reassure Republicans shaken by Bush's scowling appearance in last week's leadoff debate with Kerry." Edwards is "expected to portray Cheney as the architect of a misguided Iraq policy that was based on the erroneous belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction."
By 42%-40% Margin, Americans Believe Edwards Will Do Better Job In Debate.
CNN's Inside Politics reported the latest USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll shows "42 percent of those surveyed think John Edwards would do a better job tomorrow night. That's slightly more, in fact, that's within the margin of error of the 40 percent who think Dick Cheney will do better."
Harkin Says Cheney Could Face Criminal Charges Over Halliburton Issues.
In an conference call with reporters coordinated by the Democratic National Committee, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa yesterday said investigations into the business practices of Halliburton, Vice President Cheney's former company, could ensnare him in legal difficulties. The Dallas Morning News reports Harkin suggested "a Democratic administration could bring criminal charges over Iraq reconstruction contracts." Harkin said, "One of the reasons I think that Cheney and Bush are fighting so hard is that I think they're afraid that if we take over the administration and start looking into this stuff, there could be some charges filed." Reuters reports Harkin "used harsh words against Cheney, comparing him to Spiro Agnew, the Nixon administration vice president who resigned under a flurry of corruption charges."