Their political resumes vary greatly in length, they hail from regions that consider one another foreign, and their personalities could hardly be confused.
When it comes to public policy, however, there is limited daylight between John F. Kerry and his running mate, John Edwards. A review of the pair's Senate records shows agreement on most major issues, and few serious fissures emerged during the Democratic primaries before Edwards ended his unsuccessful bid for the presidential nomination.
"There's no 'voodoo economics' to adjust to, of any sort," said Thomas E. Mann, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, referring to George H.W. Bush's criticism of Ronald Reagan's economic policies before he joined Reagan on the Republican ticket in 1980.
"They have worked on different issues, but their ideology and voting records are quite similar," Mann said of Kerry and Edwards.
And for Republicans that means a liberal ticket; they have repeatedly tried to paint Kerry as a "Massachusetts liberal." Whatever the labels, there are ample issues on which the upbeat, first-term senator from North Carolina and the more earnest, fourth-term senator from Massachusetts share ground.
As senators, Edwards and Kerry voted against President Bill Clinton's removal after his House impeachment and against President Bush's tax cuts.
Both voted for the USA Patriot Act but later voiced reservations about the discretion it gave Attorney General John D. Ashcroft. Both opposed opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, and both supported patient-protection legislation co-sponsored by Edwards and Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.).
An analysis published in February by the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., showed that Edwards and Kerry voted identically 91 percent of the time on the 1,166 recorded votes for which both were present since 1999, when Edwards became a senator.
The overlap in outlooks was also noticeable on the campaign trail during the Democratic primaries. The similarities arguably handicapped Edwards as he searched for ways to distinguish himself from Kerry after other candidates started exiting the race.
Kerry kept racking up primary victories. Edwards tried to slow his momentum by suggesting differences on trade and other issues -- but found little with which to work.
At one point, Edwards chided Kerry for "some inconsistency" in his views on Iraq. But the two senators' voting records and statements on the war had been markedly similar.
Both voted in the fall of 2002 to authorize the use of force, which drew heavy criticism during the primaries from former Vermont governor Howard Dean, another Democratic rival, and flak from party activists.
Edwards and Kerry later refused to support a request from Bush for an additional $87 billion to continue operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both senators said their intent was to signal Bush that they disapproved of the way he was handling the war's aftermath.
On the campaign trail, both candidates offered similar prescriptions for Iraq's transition to sovereignty, calling for more international involvement and on ceding more decision-making authorities to allies.
Among the Democrats who sought the presidency, Edwards and Kerry also voiced similar views of Bush's tax cuts.
Several other Democratic candidates -- including Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.) -- proposed a full repeal of the $1.7 trillion in cuts that Bush signed into law in 2001 and 2003. But Edwards and Kerry argued that doing so would not only affect the rich but also hurt middle-class taxpayers. They sought to roll back only the cuts benefiting taxpayers making more than $200,000 a year.
In February, Edwards sought to contrast the candidates' health care plans, asserting that the cost of Kerry's proposals was "dramatically higher than mine."
But the pair's plans were much closer in cost than several offered by rivals, and the two campaigns relied on many of the same strategies to expand the number of Americans with health insurance. An independent analysis estimated that Edwards's proposals would extend health insurance to half of the nation's uninsured at a cost of $590 billion over 10 years, while Kerry's plan would cover 61 percent of the uninsured at $890 billion over 10 years.
By contrast, Gephardt's plan had an estimated cost of $2.5 trillion over 10 years -- and would have been impossible to fund without the full repeal of Bush's tax cuts. Another Democratic rival, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (Ohio), proposed a universal, single-payer approach estimated to cost $22 trillion over a decade.
Edwards worked hardest to exploit differences in his voting record on international trade with that of Kerry. Edwards reminded voters that the Massachusetts senator had embraced trade agreements that labor groups later blamed for the loss of manufacturing jobs to other countries.
Both voted in 2000 to extend permanent normal trading relations to China. But Edwards was able to cite other trade bills that he opposed and Kerry supported. The bills included agreements with Africa, the Caribbean and Singapore and the granting of fast-track negotiating power to the president.
Edwards also said that during his 1998 Senate race he had "campaigned" against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), supported by Kerry and signed into law by Clinton in 1993. Edwards did voice opposition to the deal during a campaign debate. But the issue was not prominent during the 1998 race, which took place during a period in which the North Carolina economy was adding jobs.
During the presidential primaries, Kerry suggested that he and Edwards were advocating the same trade policies for the future. Kerry pledged at one point to "fix NAFTA" and said he would insist on tougher labor and environmental standards from trading partners in future agreements.
"It's all fine to say, 'Going forward, this is what I'm going to do,' " Edwards argued during a debate hosted in late February by CBS News and the New York Times. "But what you've done in the past gives some indication to the American people about what you're in fact going to do. . . . There's no way to dispute this."
At one point, Kerry chided Edwards through an aide for talking "more about NAFTA in the last three weeks than he did in his entire Senate career."
A few other differences surfaced during the primaries.
Kerry pointed on several occasions to a 2001 vote by Edwards to approve a budget resolution that included $1.18 trillion in tax cuts sought by Bush. Once the details emerged, Edwards reversed course and opposed a $1.35 trillion tax cut bill.
"I always thought it was a pig in a poke," Kerry said of the Bush proposal in an interview with ABC News in February.
Kerry and Edwards have also parted ways on several issues of regional importance to North Carolina.
Edwards, whose state is home to six major military installations, has voted against rounds of base closures that Kerry supported.
The two also wound up on different sides of legislation that would have banned meatpackers from owning or controlling their supplies of hogs and cattle. Kerry's support for the legislation drew applause from farmers in Iowa. Edwards said he could not vote for the bill because it would harm farming interests in North Carolina, which operate under different ownership laws.
Other differences were barely discussed during the primaries. For example, Edwards voted to proceed with a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev. Kerry sided against the project.
Kerry generally opposes the death penalty, though he has said he would make an exception for terrorists. Edwards said in a candidates' debate that he believes "there are some crimes that deserve the ultimate punishment."