Edwards banters with Jay Leno

Democrat John Edwards jokes with Jay Leno on 'The Tonight Show' on Tuesday.Reed Saxon / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

John Edwards has a theory about what was hidden underneath an unusual wrinkle that appeared on the back of President Bush’s suit jacket during his first debate with John Kerry.

“I think it was his battery,” a grinning Edwards told Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show” on Tuesday.

“I think tomorrow, before the debate, John Kerry ought to pat him down,” Edwards said, referring to the final Bush-Kerry matchup, scheduled for Wednesday in Arizona.

The Democratic vice presidential nominee, making his second appearance on the comedian’s stage this year, was in turns silly and serious while chatting about issues from Iraq to chubby Secret Service agents.

Leno asked Edwards if he could beat the president in a foot race.

Edwards, who said he jogged about five miles Tuesday, reminded the audience he played football as a student. Bush, he noted, was on a cheering squad.

Bush “was on the side, with his pompoms,” the North Carolina senator said. “I don’t know, can you run fast with those cheerleading outfits on?”

Earlier, at a campaign stop in Colorado, Edwards attacked President Bush and Cheney as “out of touch.” He didn’t let up on Leno’s show.

When Leno showed a clip of Kerry windsurfing, Edwards said, “If I had to spend 90 minutes on a stage with George Bush, I’d want to clear my head too.”

During the first debate between the presidential candidates, a camera glimpsed what looked like a rectangular lump between Bush’s shoulder blades. Bush’s campaign aides have laughed off rampant Internet speculation that the president was wired to get help from advisers.

Edwards’ one-day trip to California was somewhat unusual. The presidential race has largely bypassed the Democratic-leaning state, which is viewed as an all but certain win for the Kerry-Edwards ticket in November. Al Gore carried the state in 2000 by 12 percentage points.

The last time Edwards was in the state was nearly three months ago. He was also scheduled to attend a fund-raiser in San Francisco on Tuesday night.