In August, Al Gore's choice of a running mate came down to two senators—and if looks had been the deciding factor, North Carolina's John Edwards, 47, would have been a shoo-in. "I always think of myself as being pretty ordinary," says the former trial lawyer (whose first campaign in 1998 was financed largely out of his own deep pockets), but many who caught his TV appearances during last year's impeachment proceedings might disagree. "Power is sexy, and John certainly is an ascending power," says North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall. Plus, "he's got that clean-cut, boyish charm." Other than jogging daily near his Washington, D.C., home, this 6-ft. father of three—Catharine, 18, Emma Claire, 2, and Jack, 6 months (son Wade died in a car crash at 16 in 1996)—does little to enhance his natural assets. And that's fine with wife Elizabeth, 51. "I feel very safe in his arms," she says. "He's someone who's there to protect you. That's more enduring than someone who just looks good in a suit."