As soon as Kerry announced his V.P. choice yesterday, Republicans immediately went to work trying to portray John Edwards as a fringe liberal. As Jeb Bush put it, " this is the most liberal ticket that the Democrats have put up for, basically, modern times. If you look at the voting records of those two guys, they are way out there in left field." It's a story line that some major papers are starting to pick up, too -- Today's Boston Herald cover story was "They're left of Ted! GOP: Dem team more liberal than Kennedy."
Yet according to the National Journal's Ratings for the last two years (yes, the very same ratings that Republicans trot out to cite John Kerry as the "most liberal" member of the Senate), Edwards' voting record was more conservative than all but ten of the Senate's 50 Democrats, including that well-known leftist (nudge-nudge) Joe Lieberman.
A Charlotte Observer article from February sums up the National Journal's findings:
"[The National Journal] found Edwards more liberal than 63 percent of his Senate colleagues in 2002. Put another way: He was more conservative than all but 10 of the Senate's 50 Democrats. Over his four years, the magazine said, Edwards fell into the 'moderate to conservative range' of Democrats.
"Edwards voted with his party 84 percent of the time last year and 90 percent over the four years, according to Congressional Quarterly magazine. He supported President Bush 76 percent of the time last year and 80 percent overall."