- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 6, 2004

From combined dispatches

Democratic presidential contender John Kerry is expected to announce his vice-presidential choice at a rally in Pittsburgh today.

CNN reported last night, citing “Democratic sources close to the campaign,” that Mr. Kerry will announce his choice this morning, barring a last-minute hitch.

The sources also told CNN that, to keep the name secret until the announcement, his choice is not scheduled to attend the rally, set for 9 a.m. at Pittsburgh’s Market Square.

In addition, the Associated Press cited Democratic Party leaders as saying they were told to expect a decision today.

Speculation last night centered on Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who finished second to Mr. Kerry in the Democratic primary.

AP and CNN both reported that Mr. Edwards interrupted his Walt Disney World vacation last week to meet with Mr. Kerry. Two officials close to the Kerry campaign, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told AP that Mr. Edwards flew from Florida to Washington on Thursday to meet secretly with Mr. Kerry.

Mr. Kerry himself downplayed any talk about individuals and would not say when he would decide on a running mate.

“I have no comment at all on the public press. I don’t know how people are reporting some of the things they are,” he told Pittsburgh TV station WTAE. “But I’ll just tell you that I’ve not made a decision at this point in time, and I’m going to continue to keep it a private and personal process until I announce it publicly.”

Mr. Kerry must select a vice-presidential candidate by the Democratic National Convention, which begins in Boston on July 26. Delegates will be asked to nominate his pick formally.

Besides Mr. Edwards, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, Sen. Bob Graham of Florida and Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa have been most frequently mentioned.

All have campaigned with Mr. Kerry over the past several weeks. Mr. Kerry has met privately with Mr. Edwards at least twice, and at least once with Mr. Gephardt and Mr. Graham.

On Sunday, Mr. Kerry campaigned with Mr. Vilsack, but both men deflected multiple reporters’ questions about whether the two had discussed the vice-presidential position on the ticket.

When asked by reporters while walking his dog outside his Washington-area home yesterday, Mr. Gephardt referred all questions about the vice-presidential slot to the Kerry campaign.

“I don’t know anything,” he said.

During the campaign Mr. Kerry said that, other than himself, Mr. Gephardt would make the best president among the declared Democratic candidates.

But Mr. Edwards is the favorite of many Democratic activists because of his youthful looks, self-assured manner and his primary message that focused on President Bush’s “two Americas” — one for the wealthy and another for everybody else.

Others express concern that Mr. Edwards, whose only political credential is a single term in the Senate, lacks the experience in international affairs to be a credible candidate to assume the presidency in the case of death, resignation or removal, particularly in wartime.

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