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Republicans To Test Edwards' Mettle

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Just minutes after John Kerry put John Edwards on the Democratic presidential ticket, the Republican party sent dozens of e-mails to WRAL and other media outlets. One of them asked who Edwards was and digged for dirt.

That is why Edwards will need thick skin to make it to November and beyond.

"He will be subject to three weeks of being in the media spotlight under severe scrutiny," said Marc Rotterman, a GOP consultant. "He'll either get caught like a deer in the headlights, or he'll survive."

Rotterman said his party has an obligation to point out Edwards' record and take a critical look at his sincerity, experience and politics.

"It's going to be a tough time," former North Carolina Attorney General and Secretary of State Rufus Edmisten said. "But it all depends on whether he's got a tough enough hide to take it. I think he does."

Not only does Edmisten know Edwards, but he also knows firsthand how political scrutiny can dig up dirt. It forced the Democrat out of office in 1996.

Edmisten said Tuesday that criticism is part of the process.

"You have to bear in mind that, unless you get there, you can't do a thing about it," he said. "So we work to put up with a lot of the games, and they're not so pretty."

Edwards experienced some of those games in his own bid for the presidency. Even Rotterman said that will help Edwards survive what's to come.

"I don't think he's tough enough to go head-to-head with Dick Cheney," Rotterman said. "I don't think he's qualified to be president. But in this media age, can he stand the media scrutiny? Probably."

Rotterman said both parties learned from Dan Quayle. George H.W. Bush's Vice President was burned by the national spotlight and never recovered.

Rotterman said the Democrats will be careful to put Edwards in more controlled situations.


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