'Swingtown' Weighs In On Edwards

Allentown, Pennsylvania is like much of American: deeply and evenly divided. As far as the fall presidential election is concerned, it's all about the undecideds.

CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod sat down with half a dozen undecided voters in Allentown, or Swingtown as it's called in this continuing series, because it could give some indication of how the presidential election might swing.

Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry's choice of North Carolina Sen. John Edwards as a running mate pushed two uncertain voters off the fence, but not the way you might think, reports Axelrod.

Jane Luyben, a Republican, says the announcement swayed her to Kerry's camp. She is leaning toward Kerry more now than before he announced Edwards as a running mate.

But Democrat Walter Schmidt is now siding with Bush, repelled by Edwards the trial lawyer.

"Where he made all his money, as a lawyer, that turns me off," says Schmidt.

But it was the other four undecided voters who told Axelrod what the V.P. pick may really mean: not much.

Of Edwards, Donna Bergenstock says," He may be more charismatic, and the shallow part of me says he's more attractive, and sometimes that plays well to people."

But she says those factors will not affect her vote.

Angela Hysick says the choice of Edwards won't affect her decision when it comes time to pull the lever for Kerry or Bush. "I vote for the president, not for who might be the vice president," she says.

That's just six votes. But Glenn Kranzley, editorial page editor of The Allentown Morning Call, has talked with many more.

"It's going to help Kerry," he says of the presumed candidate's pick for V.P.

Kranzley's newspaper endorsed George W. Bush in the last election. He started gauging local reaction to Edwards as soon as Kerry announced him.

Kranzley says the first reaction was positive, and described the general response as, "We like this choice. He looks like he could be president. It's a good thing."

A good thing for Kerry, maybe. Historically vice presidential picks don't add or subtract that much. The effect has always been seen in the margins, but this year the margins may be where the White House is won, or lost.

  • Joel Roberts

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