Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) tapped freshman Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) as his running mate, calling his one-time rival for the Democratic nomination a politician of passion, middle-class values and clear conviction who can help the party "bring back our mighty dream" of a better America by ousting President Bush.

Kerry announced his decision at a downtown rally in Pittsburgh on Tuesday morning, describing Edwards as a man of courage and conviction who "has shown guts and determination and political skill in his own race for the presidency of the United States, a man whose life has prepared him for leadership and whose character brings him to exercise it."

Kerry, who kept his decision hidden until Monday evening from everyone but his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, informed Edwards of his selection during a 15-minute phone call around 7:30 a.m. "I was humbled by his offer," Edwards said in a statement, "and thrilled to accept it."

The announcement ended a long and secretive process in which Kerry and his team scoured through a list of about 25 names and consulted about 300 people before settling on the man whom many Democratic activists considered the obvious and most politically popular choice from the beginning.

Edwards, 51, was a successful trial lawyer who made millions from his law practice before winning his Senate seat in 1998.

Many Democrats see him as an antidote to Kerry's serious and stiff style. "This is a ticket that can excite, motivate and most importantly defeat George Bush and Dick Cheney in November," Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.) said.

-- Jim VandeHei and Dan Balz

Sen. John F. Kerry said Sen. John Edwards, center, "has shown guts and determination and political skill in his own race for the presidency of the United States."