- The Washington Times - Monday, July 24, 2000

The airwaves, if not necessarily the air most voters breathe, was full of veep talk yesterday but so far as anyone actually knows it comprised mostly hope, hype and hot air.
The only man who really knew whether, for example, the buzz about Dick Cheney was real was not saying anything.
The only thing that was clear was that Mr. Cheney had replaced Sen. John McCain, last week's media chatter favorite, as the man the reporters, commentators and talk-show spinners loved to talk about. What was not clear was whether presumed Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush was spinning the names, or whether it was merely media bloviation.
John Danforth, the former senator from Missouri and one of the handful of names on the Texas governor's short list of prospective running mates, said yesterday that he did not expect to be asked and thought Mr. Cheney would be the choice.
"I've got a pretty good guess," he told reporters as he entered Episcopal church services in St. Louis. "I think it's Cheney."
Meanwhile, Mr. Cheney a former Wyoming congressman who was White House chief of staff under President Ford and Pentagon chief under Mr. Bush's father left his McLean home yesterday to head to Dallas, where he also has a home. Asked why he was going there, he said only, "because that's where my work is."
In seclusion at his Texas ranch, Mr. Bush tentatively planned to introduce his running mate today or tomorrow. Even his closest advisers said they did not know if he had made up his mind, the Associated Press reported.
Others mentioned as possible candidates include Govs. Frank Keating of Oklahoma, Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania and George E. Pataki of New York; Rep. John R. Kasich of Ohio; and Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Bill Frist and Fred Thompson of Tennessee.
Mr. Danforth, interviewed on "Fox News Sunday," said he would "certainly discourage" efforts to make him the Republican vice-presidential nominee. "My heart isn't in it. I want to remain in St. Louis… . I really want to be in private life, not public life." He noted that he gave up his Senate seat in 1994 after 18 years because he wanted to "come home" to Missouri.
"I can't imagine anybody better than Cheney for this," he added.
House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, was skeptical. Interviewed on CNN's "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields," he said Mr. Cheney would be "an excellent choice if he is the choice."
"I wouldn't put money on it," he added.
Political talk-show hosts and guests also speculated yesterday that a long shot someone like retired Gen. Colin Powell could be the pick. Some believe the Bush campaign intentionally leaked Mr. Cheney's name to divert media attention away from the real choice.
White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, who appeared on ABC's "This Week," was in the latter camp. "I think this Dick Cheney thing is an elaborate head fake … to get the press off of looking at John McCain," Mr. Podesta said.
McCain supporters started a whispering campaign last week that the Arizona senator who was drubbed by Mr. Bush in the primaries might even after repeated denials take the No. 2 slot.
But Bush campaign strategist Karl Rove, who appeared on three talk shows yesterday, said his boss believed Mr. McCain when he said he didn't want the job.
"I know that he has said that he takes Senator McCain at his word, and Senator McCain's word rather bluntly in Pittsburgh when they met was that he didn't want to be considered and wouldn't accept it," Mr. Rove said.
Reminded that Mr. McCain seems to have changed his position last week, Mr. Rove said he does not know if that is true or is merely a result of the "media frenzy" surrounding Mr. Bush's selection of a running mate.
Several Democrats got into the act of musing about whom Mr. Bush would pick. Mark Fabiani, spokesman for the campaign of Vice President Al Gore, said the Bush campaign has made much ado about the selection process because it has been "floundering and has had little else to talk about in recent weeks."
The Bush campaign, he said, was "thrown off balance by McCain's [sudden] interest" in being tapped. The whole situation has made Mr. Bush "look weak and indecisive," he said.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, who is on Mr. Gore's short list of vice-presidential candidates, was asked his view of all the Cheney speculation on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"Either the Bush campaign is trying to kill the speculation about John McCain as a running mate, or Dick Cheney's very serious. He's respected and, I think, well liked in Washington. I think he would really beef up the resume of George Bush on some important matters like military decisions and foreign policy," Mr. Durbin said.
Mr. Bush reportedly has told Republicans that when he announces his running mate, "your eyes will light up with excitement."
Wolf Blitzer, host of CNN's "Late Edition," asked Mr. Rove if it is "completely out of the question" that Gen. Powell could be the "surprise candidate."
"Governor Bush has the utmost respect for General Powell, and, if not vice president, would hope that he would offer himself up to serve us again in the Bush administration. He's a wonderful person, a true hero, and a great American," Mr. Rove replied.
Mr. Powell has expressed an interest in serving as secretary of state in a Bush administration.
On Fox, Bush campaign spokeswoman Karen Hughes also mentioned Mr. Bush's interest in having Mr. Powell serve in his administration. She was asked if the Texas governor also might announce this week the names of some who would serve in his Cabinet.
"I don't think so… . I know, particularly, he's mentioned General Colin Powell as someone who is the type of American that he hopes he could interest in yet another opportunity for public service. But I don't think he'll be making any of those types of announcements," she said.
Mr. Rove, however, cut through the hype.
"Governor Bush has the list. Only he knows."

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