CLEVELAND — The Democratic presidential ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards campaigned together for the first time yesterday, with Mr. Kerry saying their appeal boils down to their values, their vision — and their hair.
“We think this is a dream ticket,” Mr. Kerry told a rally of thousands in Cleveland yesterday. “We’ve got better vision. We’ve got better ideas. We’ve got real plans. We’ve got a better sense of what’s happening to America, and we’ve got better hair. And I’ll tell you, that goes a long way.”
Particularly in the case of Mr. Edwards, that intangible was not lost on supporters who turned out in a park near Cleveland’s city hall, on the shore of Lake Erie, to be the first to greet the unified ticket.
“He’s a handsome young man, and a lot of women are going to vote for him,” said Bill Schmiedel, 61, who belongs to the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.
Mr. Kerry announced his selection of Mr. Edwards on Tuesday, and the two candidates and their families had dinner that night at the home of Teresa Heinz Kerry outside Pittsburgh. Yesterday, the families flew to Ohio for two outdoor rallies, then went to Clearwater, Fla., for a late-night rally.
Democrats expect Mr. Edwards to provide the ticket with geographic diversity and charisma.
And Mr. Edwards didn’t disappoint yesterday, beaming as he stood next to Mr. Kerry and, with his North Carolina twang, joked with the crowd: “I have to be honest with you. When I got the call yesterday from John, I was a little surprised, because what I thought was — it was another reporter calling to ask what I knew.”
Asked what Mr. Edwards had that Mr. Kerry didn’t, Susan Jones, one of those at yesterday’s rally, didn’t hesitate: “Personality. Kerry’s so somber, and that’s OK, we need that. But here’s this effervescent guy — reminds me a little bit of Clinton.”
Mr. Kerry is counting on Mr. Edwards to help transfer some of his appeal as an American success story — a small-town guy who was the first in his family to graduate from college and who became a very successful and wealthy lawyer.
Mr. Edwards said yesterday that he and Mr. Kerry share the same values — a word he used five times in his brief remarks yesterday.
“I just heard my 4-year-old son, Jack, behind me asking why there are so many American flags out here,” Mr. Edwards said. “I have an answer for my son: Because when John Kerry is president of the United States, we are going to restore real American values to this country.”
Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards said their families got along well together — Mr. Kerry mentioned that about five minutes earlier, Jack and his 6-year-old sister, Emma Claire, were in Mrs. Kerry’s pool.
And the two families mixed easily on stage yesterday, with Mr. Kerry’s daughter Vanessa and stepson Andre Heinz holding Jack and Emma Claire.
“It was obvious to me we were forming a bond that, with your help, can change this country,” said Mr. Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth.
Her husband’s addition to the race has re-energized Democrats, and even Republicans expect a Kerry-Edwards ticket to poll higher in opinion surveys.
Mr. Edwards, the senior senator from North Carolina, also was the focus when President Bush campaigned in the state yesterday, a stop scheduled before Mr. Kerry tapped Mr. Edwards.
Mr. Bush was particularly terse when asked about how Vice President Dick Cheney will stack up against Mr. Edwards, who is retiring after this year, when his single term in the Senate ends.
“Dick Cheney can be president. Next?” the president said.
At the Capitol yesterday, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, said Mr. Edwards’ background as a trial lawyer “will kill jobs in this country.”
But Democrats embraced the trial lawyer’s background.
“We need another trial attorney. We need somebody who can make it plain. Fight for us,” said Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Ohio Democrat, who also is a lawyer.
And Mr. Schmiedel, the union member, said Mr. Edwards’ background is just fine with him.
“If John Edwards has taken these companies to court to support the little guy, he’s for the little guy. He understands the little guy,” Mr. Schmiedel said.
Joseph Curl contributed to this report from Raleigh, N.C.