WASHINGTON — Speaking with MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) talked about her fellow senator from North Carolina, now the Democrat's presumptive vice-presidential candidate, Sen. John Edwards.
On the day that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) announced Edwards as his running mate, Dole portrayed the choice as just another Kerry flip-flop and criticized the decision as one based on polling rather than ideology.
Dole's husband, former Republican presidential nominee and now retired Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole, resigned his Senate seat during his unsuccessful 1996 bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Bill Clinton.
Below is an excerpt of her interview scheduled to air during a special "Hardball with Chris Matthews" tonight at 9 p.m. ET.
Chris Matthews, host, "Hardball": Your fellow Senator from North Carolina, John Edwards, was picked as the vice presidential running mate. What are your thoughts on that?
Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC): I wasn’t surprised. I thought for some time this might happen. Polls out there was showing support for Edwards to be the running mate. John Kerry’s first choice was apparently (Republican) Sen. John McCain but when they didn’t work out, it seemed like he turned to the polls.
Matthews: It seemed to be a prickly relationship in the beginning. Kerry questioned Edwards’ electibility, and his ambition in running for president with less than one term of elective office.
Is John Edwards too ambitious?
Dole: I have not had an opportunity to work with John Edwards as much as I’d like. In my year and a half in the senate, he’s been on the campaign trail. He’s worked hard and raised a lot of money on the campaign trail, but I haven’t worked with him as much as I’d like. Despite the stuff Kerry’s said in the primaries, he’s now chosen him to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. That’s a rather big flip-flop.
Matthews: Wow, already you’ve criticized the choice for being poll-driven, for Edwards’ campaigning instead of legislating… and you don’t really even know the guy.
Dole: I didn’t say I didn’t know him, just that I haven’t worked with him as much as I’d like.
Matthews: Is he qualified to be VP?
Dole: I’ll leave that to the voters once they look into his record. I’m very strong for George W. Bush, I think he’s done a tremendous job. I’m campaigning hard for him.
John Kerry was rated by a non-partisan journal, he was ranked as the No. 1 in terms of being liberal, of all senators. No. 4 was John Edwards. No ideological balance there.
In terms of North Carolina, they’re well to the left of the mainstream of the rest of the country.
Matthews: But now there’s a voice from the South that will sell like butter in Louisiana, in Missouri, and maybe some of the border states.
Dole: George Bush beat Al Gore in North Carolina by a 13-point spread. I think George W. will prevail against a Massachusetts liberal. It’s the top of the ticket people vote for.
Edwards no doubt has gifts—rhetorical gifts— he’s very articulate, he’s made millions of dollars as personal injury trial lawyer. The man is smart, yes, but I think people in my home state will feel this too much to the left of main stream views.