updated 7/8/2004 3:42:59 PM ET 2004-07-08T19:42:59

John Kerry’s selection of North Carolina Sen. John Edwards as his running mate has injected a dose of excitement into Democratic ranks, giving Kerry a quick lift in national polls and in MSNBC's White House Derby ranking.

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An NBC poll released Wednesday found that the Kerry-Edwards ticket got support from 49 percent of registered voters, while President Bush and Vice President Cheney garnered 41 percent. Independent Ralph Nader and running mate Peter Camejo won 4 percent.

Nearly two-thirds of the poll respondents said Edwards’ presence on the ticket would not affect their votes in November, while about a quarter said it would make them more likely to vote for the Democratic ticket.

This remains an electoral vote struggle in which Kerry and Edwards must amass, state by state, the 270 votes needed to oust Bush from the White House. It remains to be seen whether son of Dixie Edwards puts Yankee Kerry within reach of carrying potential battleground states in the South such as Louisiana with its nine electoral votes.

Meanwhile, former GOP Sen. Al D’Amato added his own intrigue to the contest by urging Bush to replace Cheney on the ticket with Secretary of State Colin Powell or Arizona Sen. John McCain, Bush’s ex-rival from the 2000 GOP nomination contest.

Knowing McCain’s value, the Bush campaign began airing a new TV ad starring McCain who tells viewers that Bush “has not wavered, he has not flinched from the hard choices, he was determined and remains determined to make this world a better, safer, freer place.”

At week’s end, Democrats accused Bush and Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge of hyping a new al-Qaida scare.

“There is no other explanation, it must be politics,” said former Kerry campaign manger Jim Jordan, who now is the spokesman for America Coming Together, an anti-Bush group that is spending millions to register new Democratic voters.


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