Veepstakes update


Stephen W. Stromberg
June 18, 2004 2:33AM (UTC)

With the Democratic convention looming just weeks ahead, John Kerry doesn't have much more time to pick a running mate. Yesterday, Kerry met with his campaign manager and the head of his VP search, and the New York Times reports a veep announcement could come before the Fourth of July.

Who's on the short list? Predicting vice presidential nominees is dangerous business, but there are several possibilities. Word is Kerry spoke with primary rival Dick Gephardt in the Capitol for an hour and a half. Kerry remains tight-lipped about the talk, but the meeting suggests Gephardt is a finalist. Gephardt brings the strong approval of labor unions and would help motivate an important Democratic constituency for Kerry.

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But, according to a recent AP-Ipsos poll, only 19 percent of voters want Gephardt on the ticket. Thirty-six percent favor North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who has campaigned hard for the Number Two spot since he dropped out of the primary race in March, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Kerry and the DNC. On Monday, the Times reported that a constellation of senators and senate candidates have rallied behind the Southerner. The AP poll also gave a Kerry-Edwards ticket a three-point edge over Bush-Cheney. No other pairing in the poll beat the Republican ticket.

Retired General Wesley Clark fared well in the AP poll, slipping in just below Gephardt with the support of 18 percent of registered voters.

One candidate the AP poll forgot to mention, though, was Howard Dean. A new Zogby poll shows that a Kerry-Dean ticket would do just as well as a Kerry-Gephardt pairing nationwide -- both would lose with 43 percent of the popular vote to Bush-Cheney's 45 percent. But Kerry-Dean does significantly better among traditional Democratic constituencies, including young voters, low-income voters and African-American voters, than Kerry-Gephardt.

Also said to be in the running are Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, Florida Sen. Bob Graham and Florida Sen. Bill Nelson. Vilsack was the only one of the three to be mentioned in the AP poll, but only four percent of registered voters wanted him to get the nomination.

Meanwhile, Arizona Sen. John McCain this morning insisted once again that he would not accept the Democratic vice presidential nomination, despite Kerry's reported preoccupation with a Kerry-McCain dream ticket. In case he hasn't been clear enough about his loyalties already, the New York Post reports McCain will hit the stump with President Bush tomorrow in Washington State and Nevada.


Stephen W. Stromberg

Stephen W. Stromberg is a former editorial fellow at Salon.

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