Candidates: Crisscrossing Paths

With no government salary or special stationery, former vice presidential candidates have only each other. As co-chairs of a Council on Foreign Relations task force on Russia, Jack Kemp, the Republican vice presidential candidate in 1996, and John Edwards, the Democratic candidate in 2004, have forged a friendship in the past six months--traveling halfway around the world, coauthoring an op-ed and appearing in public forums together. "It's probably raised some eyebrows among his friends and among my friends," Kemp tells NEWSWEEK, "but we work very well together."

Kemp and Edwards, who'd never met before the Russia project, bonded quickly. During an initial meeting at Edwards's Georgetown home, Kemp gave him Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's "The Red Wheel"; Edwards told his son Jack of Kemp's football triumphs as a Buffalo Bills quarterback. In early meetings, and on a trip to Russia in September, they traded debate-prep notes and war stories from the trail. "It takes a long time to get to Russia," Edwards tells NEWSWEEK. "We became very close."

They decided to take their partnership to other arenas. In October, they led a forum at the University of North Carolina on solutions to poverty in America--the favorite cause of both men. Their ideologies don't exactly dovetail ("He thinks the market will cure everything, which I just don't agree with," Edwards says), but each was energized by the other's enthusiasm. "I really admire the way he talks about poverty because it's going to force not just his party to deal with it, but my party to deal with it as well," Kemp says. They'll lead a similar forum at USC in February, and each can imagine an array of future collaborations. Within reason, of course. Edwards, widely presumed to have 2008 presidential aspirations, says he won't seek political pointers from his new GOP friend, who ran for president in 1988: "I don't know if I want advice from a Republican, even if I like him a lot."