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The Morning Grind / Political Hot Topics

Campaigns focus on Cheney

Vice President Dick Cheney is getting increased attention from Republicans and Democrats.
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• The Candidates: Bush | Kerry
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John F. Kerry
George W. Bush

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Check out the links below to hot political stories around the country this morning.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Vice President Dick Cheney is the master of the monotone speech and a man who relishes his backstage role at the White House. But Republican strategists are suddenly pushing the consummate inside guy into a more prominent role in the closely fought presidential campaign. And oddly, both Democrats and Republicans are happy about it. Republicans are putting a spotlight on Cheney to shore up support with the party's conservative base. Democrats have their own focus on him - trying to draw attention to his ties to contractor Halliburton Co., his role in building the case for war with Iraq and his recent use of a vulgarity on the Senate floor.

The Los Angeles Times: Both campaigns train the spotlight on Cheneyexternal link

RUNNING MATE: John Kerry spent yesterday in isolation at his wife's 90-acre suburban farm, working on his convention acceptance speech amid signs that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee may announce his choice of a running mate here as early as next Tuesday. Kerry's public campaign schedule has been disclosed only through Monday, the day after he wraps up a Fourth of July bus tour through the Midwest and then flies back to Pittsburgh. His staff has assembled the telephone numbers and schedules next week for potential running mates, said a top adviser to one of the candidates. Kerry has asked a select few of his closest supporters to reserve Tuesday and Wednesday to travel with the campaign, which would allow for a barnstorming tour by the Democratic duo in advance of a gala fund-raiser next Thursday in New York City.

The Boston Globe: Kerry said to near decision on running mateexternal link

INTERNET BRAWLS: While television remains the main arena for this year's political slugfest between President Bush and John Kerry, the Internet has become a back alley where the two rivals and their surrogates are throwing some of their most bare-knuckled punches. The cyberspace combat offers a glimpse of innovative tactics that politicians increasingly may rely on after decades of using 30-second TV commercials as the dominant vehicle for delivering campaign messages.

The Los Angeles Times: Internet the back alley of choice for bare-knuckle political brawlsexternal link

ODD ALLIANCES: In his search for access to the ballot, Ralph Nader can sometimes seem as if he has never met a third party he did not like. His alignment with the Reform Party is but one example of how Mr. Nader is facing such daunting forces to get his name on statewide ballots this year that he is seeking support from groups that do not necessarily share his long-held liberal beliefs. Mr. Nader's efforts have only intensified given that last weekend he was spurned by the Green Party, which endorsed him for president in 1996 and 2000.

The New York Times: Odd alliances form in efforts to place Nader on the ballotexternal link

OHIO DRIVE: America Coming Together, an independent political group opposing the re-election of President Bush, has focused its early get-out-the-vote efforts most heavily in Ohio by spending at least $1.1 million over a six-month period and hiring more than 700 people, says a report on the group's activities. "What they've done so far supplies a little bit of a blueprint of what they might do in future months," said Derek Willis, who researches such groups for the Center for Public Integrity.

The Associated Press: Ohio targeted in voter registration driveexternal link

MILITARY CALL-UPS: John Kerry's campaign yesterday seized on the Pentagon's call-up of thousands of former soldiers for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan to step up its charge that the Bush administration's management of the military has left the Army spread dangerously thin. The move demonstrated the Kerry campaign's increasing willingness to engage Bush on what had been the president's perceived strength, his handling of national security.

The Boston Globe: Kerry blasts Bush for military call-upsexternal link

NADER DEBATE: Among the debate topics: Should Ralph run for president? The participants: Howard Dean and a candidate who always has an opinion on the subject - independent Ralph Nader. Dean, the former Democratic presidential hopeful who attracted legions of liberal followers before his bid fizzled out, will debate Nader for 90 minutes on July 9 before a studio audience. National Public Radio's weekly program "Justice Talking" is sponsoring the debate, and correspondent Margot Adler will moderate.

The Associated Press: Nader, Dean to debate if Ralph should runexternal link

BUSH FUNDRAISER: Billionaire Richard J. Egan built his reputation in politics as a major donor and fund-raiser for the Bush campaign, steering hundreds of thousands of dollars into Republican coffers in recent years. But now it appears Egan and his relatives are bankrolling a new candidate: independent presidential contender Ralph Nader. Donors often cross party lines to support candidates based on specific regional or business issues, but the Egans' sudden interest in Nader seems to reflect a more sophisticated strategy by Republicans to draw support away from Democratic challenger John F. Kerry by bolstering his third-party rival.

The Boston Globe: Major Bush fund-raiser donates to Nader campaignexternal link

BROTHER'S EYES: The campaign of Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, is taking a closer look at North Carolina as polls show the presidential contest here tightening up. Cameron Kerry, a Boston lawyer and close political adviser to his brother, met top Democratic Party leaders Wednesday in Raleigh to get the lay of the political landscape. "I am certainly encouraged by what I heard today," he said in an interview. "A lot of people feel it [North Carolina] could be in play whether or not John Edwards is on the ticket, and will certainly be in play if he is on the ticket." So far, John Kerry's campaign has not invested money or people in North Carolina -- which no Democrat has carried since 1976 -- focusing its efforts on more competitive "battleground states." A poll of 600 likely voters, conducted last month for The News & Observer, WRAL-TV and WUNC radio, showed President Bush leading Kerry by 47 percent to 42 percent. The poll, which had a margin of error of 4 percentage points, suggested that the race would tighten more if Edwards were Kerry's running mate.

The News & Observer: Kerry looks at N.C. through brother's eyesexternal link

HERESY CASE: A Catholic lawyer has filed heresy charges against Sen. John Kerry with the Archdiocese of Boston, accusing the Democratic presidential candidate of bringing "most serious scandal to the American public" by receiving Holy Communion as a pro-choice Catholic. The 18-page document was sent to the archdiocese June 14, but released to the public only yesterday by Marc Balestrieri, a Los Angeles-based canon lawyer and an assistant judge with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles' tribunal, an ecclesiastical court.

The Washington Times: Kerry cited in Catholic heresy caseexternal link

GROWING RIFT: US Senator Edward M. Kennedy is trying to smooth over relations between Mayor Thomas M. Menino and John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, as frustrations grow among top Democrats over the mayor's relations with party officials in the weeks before the convention. Menino has repeatedly expressed his anger about Kerry in recent weeks, first over Kerry's brief consideration of a plan to delay acceptance of the party's nomination until after the convention and then over Kerry's decision to cancel a scheduled speech Monday to the US Conference of Mayors because he didn't want to cross a police union picket line.

The Boston Globe: Growing rift between Menino, Kerry worries Democratsexternal link

DEMS EXCITED: Defeating President Bush is more important to most Democrats than whom John Kerry picks to help him do it, new poll results suggest. But his choice could affect how the ticket plays with independents and moderates. Kerry was working on his convention speech and mulling his vice presidential options Wednesday and today in Pittsburgh and here. He is expected to announce his choice in the next two weeks, then head out with his running mate on a pre-convention tour of battleground states.

USA Today: Dems excited by prospects for VPexternal link

Compiled by Heather Riley

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