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Has John Kerry Made His Veep Choice; Interview with Ralph Nader

Aired July 5, 2004 - 16:30   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": Question: has he or hasn't he? All eyes are on John Kerry. Who will he pick as his running mate, and when will he announce his choice? We'll try to answer some of these questions.
Plus, Ralph Nader defends his bid for the White House and says Democrats are afraid of democracy. The Independent presidential hopeful is my guest. Stick around. I go INSIDE POLITICS in two minutes.



ANNOUNCER: Kerry's D-Day: has he made his V.P. choice or not? Top players are as mum as ever about who, where and when.

RICHARD GEPHARDT (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I refer all questions to the Kerry campaign. I don't know anything.

ANNOUNCER: Cheney's pitch: is he scoring points on the trail or throwing curveballs into the campaign?

Nader's choice words.

RALPH NADER (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Democrats are obstructing; the Republicans are just talking.

ANNOUNCER: The White House hopeful touts his independence, even as Democrats keep pressing him to drop out.



WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us.

Whatever John Kerry's choice of a running mate ultimately says about him, voters are learning this much, the man can keep a secret. Kerry and his wife are hosting a barbecue in Pittsburgh on this holiday while his campaign works to keep the V.P. selection process under wraps. However, some sources are talking about timing and other factors. We begin with CNN's Joe Johns, who's with Kerry in Pittsburgh.

Hi, Joe.


Well, if he wanted to establish himself as a person not only who can keep a secret, but also who can think a long time about certain things, John Kerry has certainly done that. He and his wife, Teresa, hosting a picnic here in Pennsylvania, with speculation raging over who will be his choice for a vice presidential running mate.

The campaign is sticking with the story that John Kerry has not made up his mind; however, a Democratic official who has talked with Kerry has told CNN Kerry has in fact made up his mind and will make that announcement soon. However, there has been no change in his schedule. He has a number of events scheduled this week, including a couple of appearances in the Midwest, one in Indiana before the African Methodist Episcopal Church conference there, also a couple in Ohio.

He's also expected to go and speak in Washington tomorrow to the National Education Association. That association has endorsed him for president.

As for the other people who are waiting to hear whether they will be chosen by Kerry, John Edwards, of course, in Boston today, expected to attend a fundraiser for Kerry. Tom Vilsack, the governor of Iowa, who campaigned with Kerry in Iowa over the weekend, going to the East Coast. We're not clear exactly what that means. And Richard Gephardt hosting a picnic in the Washington D.C. area.

One other person, of course, has been mentioned a couple of times, Joe Biden the senator from Delaware. He talked to reporters today and said essentially, he doesn't think he's in the running at all -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Joe Johns listening ear to the ground, figuratively speaking, or maybe it will be literally before too long. Joe Johns, thanks very much.

Well, let's continue to sort through what we do and do not know about Kerry's decision with our own "Ticket Talk" maven, John Mercurio, our political editor.

So what do you know?

JOHN MERCURIO, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: I mean, over the past 24 hours, I firmly believed that each of these guys, you know, could be the running mate for at least a couple of hours. The rumor mills is intense. You know, you've got e-mails, tidbits from political Web sites, phone calls, gossip. It's all just running at breakneck speed. It's sort of, you know, funny and frustrating all at the same time.

Now, as Joe just reported, we have a Democratic Party official telling CNN that Kerry's made a decision. The Kerry campaign denying that. But other signs that we're seeing do point to a final decision having been made -- been made. Specifically, one source telling CNN that state party officials -- or state party leaders from the would-be vice presidential candidate's home state have been alerted of a pending decision, a pending announcement, and have been asked to clear their schedules.

Now, one other thing we can report as fact, based on some research done by our crack political team of researchers, is that if Kerry makes his announcement before July 19 -- which is widely expected that he will -- the ticket will have the longest run-up to the convention of any presidential ticket in modern time. Now, this is actually important, because it opens up Kerry and his vice president to wider scrutiny, wider analysis, and it will, you know, sort of remains to be seen as to whether or not they can withstand that.

WOODRUFF: All right. So we're not hearing the name yet. Or we're hearing a lot of names.

MERCURIO: We're hearing a lot of names.

WOODRUFF: But what are you hearing, John, about what's going on behind the scenes that might give you some sense or smell of where he may be.

MERCURIO: Well, the Kerry campaign did something kind of interesting last week, and it may or may not have anything to do with their V.P. strategy. They canceled advertising. They're discontinuing television ads for the month of July in two competitive southern states, Louisiana and Arkansas. The campaign saying that this was just -- this is part of the normal process of reassessing the race as they go.

But my read on it is that it's sort of an odd thing to do. My read on it is that they're having sort of second thoughts about this southern strategy, about their ability to compete in the South, which is hardly the kind of thing you would think that a campaign would be doing if they're about to roll out a big southern Democrat like John Edwards as their running mate.

Now, in other -- other advertising news, we hear that the Bush- Cheney campaign has taped an ad with John McCain, praising President Bush...


MERCURIO: ... which they plan to -- plan to start running sort of timed with the Kerry -- the Kerry announcement. The message to the public, to the viewers being John Kerry might have a running mate, but he doesn't have his first choice, we do.

WOODRUFF: All right. So what about Kerry himself? He's obviously not saying anything other than to be very coy about this.


WOODRUFF: But what -- what clues are you getting from -- from anybody you're talking to?

MERCURIO: Well, he's tight-lipped about the actual candidate, the decision about the -- who will be his V.P.. But he has talked to party strategists, consultants, fundraisers about the general process. A couple things we've learned.

Recently -- as recently as this weekend, we have heard that he's -- he told someone that Jim Johnson's job, the head of his V.P. search committee, Jim Johnson's job has been completed, which sort of lends credibility to the idea that the decision is made. And he was quoted as one source -- he was quoted by one source saying that Jim did a remarkable job, very happy with the process.

He's also consistently laid out the two -- two points. First of all, he's done a lot of research on past V.P. choices recently and decided that geography, the idea that a candidate can appeal to a specific geographic area is no longer relevant to the process. He's also consistently said that personal chemistry, the idea that you're comfortable with your running mate is extremely important. And those are important clues if you think about the -- two of the top candidates. John Edwards, one of his top strengths as a candidate is his -- his ability to appeal to the southern voters.


MERCURIO: If that's not important to Kerry, that's something to be noted. And personal comfort, we've always heard that -- that Dick Gephardt was the candidate with whom Kerry was the most comfortable.

WOODRUFF: The geography piece would also have an interesting twist on what you're hearing about those ads, too.

MERCURIO: Yes, exactly.

WOODRUFF: Because it might not mean something with regard to Edwards.


WOODRUFF: OK. John Mercurio, thanks very much.

MERCURIO: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: I'll let you go right back to work.

Well, President Bush is enjoying some downtime at Camp David today after spending the Fourth of July Sunday stomping in West Virginia. It was his 9th visit to that showdown state since taking office. He told a cheering crowd that America is safer because Saddam Hussein is behind bars.

Vice President Dick Cheney also is taking a break from the campaign trail today after his holiday weekend bus tour through West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. CNN's Ed Henry went along for the ride to watch Cheney in action.


ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a side of the vice president rarely seen. No neck tie, no script, making a direct pitch to voters in Altoona, Pennsylvania. A kinder, gentler Cheney, a grandpa, showing off 10-year-old Kate at a Minor League game on the Fourth of July.

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We look forward to a great night of baseball.

HENRY: At many stops on the bus tour, including this town square...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cheney, Cheney, Cheney!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cheney, Cheney, Cheney!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cheney, Cheney, Cheney!

HENRY: ... conservatives treated Cheney like a rock star. While he didn't always seem comfortable with retail politics, Cheney hammed it up.

CHENEY: Now, we do have an opponent out there. I'm trying to remember now, John Kerry.


HENRY: But Cheney seemed intimately familiar with Kerry's name and record, which he tore to pieces.

CHENEY: Sometimes I think Senator Kerry develops amnesia when he gets out on the campaign trail.

HENRY: At the Soldier's Museum in Pittsburgh, Cheney said Kerry has been on the wrong side on flag burning, abortion and guns.

CHENEY: His latest thing is to tell audiences that he holds "conservative values." Did he forget his voting record? John Kerry's voting record makes him the most liberal member of the United States Senate.

HENRY: Democrats say the speeches were full of distortions, and Cheney is so unpopular his barnstorming will backfire with swing voters.

TERRY MCAULIFFE, DNC CHAIRMAN: We will have people wherever he goes reminding people that who Dick Cheney is, that he is Mr. Halliburton, and he is an extreme right wing conservative out of the mainstream.

HENRY: But Cheney allies insist he is an asset and will keep hitting the road. The normally press-shy Cheney even enjoyed a little give-and-take with reporters, though he stayed tight-lipped.

CHENEY: I haven't been on the press bus this whole trip. And I was lobbied to come back, delighted to be here. I'm not going to say anything significant at all, so quit taking notes.


HENRY: Judy, despite Democratic claims that Mr. Cheney is too much of a lightning rod, aides insist the vice president will stack up very nice against whomever John Kerry picks as his running mate. And, in fact, the Bush-Cheney campaign is playing the pick-up on the vice president's line of attack about Senator Kerry's values in a television ad campaign soon. So stay tuned, Judy.

WOODRUFF: So, Ed, despite all this speculation that doesn't seem to die that Cheney may come off the ticket, you're hearing what?

HENRY: He's going to stick around. That's what people in Cheney's inner circle say. In fact, they say the conservatives loved it when the vice president used an obscenity against a Democratic senator. That actually galvanized the right. And they say that if President Bush pushed Cheney off the ticket, that would actually backfire with conservatives -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: OK. Ed Henry has just been on the trail with the vice president. Thank you, Ed.

Well, let's continue our talk about Dick Cheney and the campaign with Mike Allen of "The Washington Post," who wrote about all this in this morning's newspaper.

Mike, what about this whole speculation about Dick Cheney? You wrote, among other things, the fact that the Bush campaign even put him out there this weekend says they're staying with him.

MIKE ALLEN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Judy, it is remarkable how much speculation there still is about this. Aren't Republicans united on almost every other question, but you still hear people talking about this. But will you hear in the White House, the campaign say these are the mattress mice, these are not the people who are making the decision? The vice president is staying.

And one reason is, the sort of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) message of this campaign is change is dangerous. So there's no way that they're going to make that change. So they're trying to make the best of him now that they have him, and putting him out this week was a way to showcase what they contend are some of his strengths.

WOODRUFF: And yet, as you write this morning, high-profile Republicans are still wondering whether Dick Cheney may be a liability.

ALLEN: Yes. As you saw in Ed Henry's speech, Democrats will say he does part of our work for us. When people see him, especially maybe the suburban voters in a place like Pennsylvania, where he was this weekend, they'll think of the oil industry, they'll think of rich people, they'll think of secrecy, they'll think of the flawed case for war.

What the White House says is, when people see Vice President Dick Cheney, they see what they did in 2000, which was somebody strong, someone who is deep, someone who is substantive. And that's why they're trying to highlight him in these trips. And we're told, believe it or not, even though you don't think of Vice President Cheney on a bus, we're told there will be more bus trips.

WOODRUFF: Very interesting. All right.

What about the polls? CBS-New York Times poll last week has Cheney's favorable rating at 22 percent. Now, this is something like a -- half what it was two years ago, two and a half years ago. His unfavorable rating -- let me get this right -- is at 28 percent, again, double, triple what it was a couple of years ago. Is the campaign just ignoring this?

ALLEN: Well, it can't ignore it. And something that's very problematic is that half of Republicans had an unfavorable -- or only half of Republicans had a favorable view, which is the most surprising number. Eighty percent of Republicans like the president.

So the question is, could this be the first vice president in a long time to be a drag on the ticket? The pollsters will tell you, no way, it doesn't. People vote for the top. Dan Quayle did -- you know, nobody blamed Dan Quayle for doing (UNINTELLIGIBLE). People are wondering, is Vice President Cheney having a reverse ark from Dan Quayle, where once he was helpful, now, is he dragging back?

What people in the campaign will tell you is that image is not what this campaign is going to be about, that -- you know, that this campaign is going to be about substance and that Dick Cheney says substance. And they also like to point out there's a couple of polls, including one from Democracy Corps, that shows Vice President Cheney with a slightly higher favorable rating than Senator Kerry. So you'll see the Bush-Cheney campaign have a little fun with that if you push them too hard on these favorability numbers.

WOODRUFF: Very quick last question. The vice president, himself, good humor, good spirits, what?

ALLEN: You know, not every baseball player has both a strong arm and wheels. And not every politician is the retail (ph) campaigner that Bill Clinton is. But the vice president was out there, his staff said that he was all smiles. He did some things he didn't have to. He made a couple of extra stops, we're told, at the Minor League game last night. He dived for a ball. So...

WOODRUFF: He had his granddaughter with him.

ALLEN: He did. His granddaughter wound up with a foul ball. We don't know if the Secret Service helped with that or not. But presenting him as the family man is one thing they tried to do to change his image.

WOODRUFF: Mike Allen, with The Washington Post, thanks very much. We appreciate you stopping by.

ALLEN: Happy holiday, Judy. WOODRUFF: Thanks a lot -- and to you.

Well, there is a follow-up on Dick Cheney's recent use of an obscenity on Capitol Hill. Coming up, who advised Cheney not to say he was sorry?

And John Kerry's surprising remark about abortion and how it may play with his base.

Up next, my interview with Ralph Nader. What does he have to say about campaign setbacks and those angry Democrats who want him out?

With 120 days until the election, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.


WOODRUFF: It is no exaggeration to say that Ralph Nader and the Democratic Party aren't getting along very well these days. Some Democrats, of course, maybe many, blame Nader for the -- for costing Al Gore the election in 2000. Over the weekend, Nader accused the Democrats of using dirty tricks against him to try to keep him off the ballot in some states.

I spoke with Nader a little earlier this afternoon and I started by asking him if he agrees with DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe, who said yesterday that the issues Nader cares about, corporate governance and responsible government, are issues that John Kerry has fought for all his life but that have been a disaster under George W. Bush.


NADER: I didn't know Terry was a comedian. John Kerry, who's a former prosecutor, did not distinguish himself in the Senate for cracking down on corporate crime fraud and abuse by expanding the Justice Department budget. And as far as corporate governance is concerned, neither party has done anything on that.

Robert Monks (ph), who's a prominent Republican, has been trying to get both parties to do something on that. The investors who own the companies don't control the companies. And top executives have been engaged in phony cooking of the books and phony accounting in order to swell the stock value so they can get more value for their stock options. No -- no parties have done anything about that.

WOODRUFF: And you're counting John Kerry. Terry McAuliffe is basically calling on you to disavow the Republicans, the conservatives who are helping you in Oregon and other states, Citizens for a Sound Economy and any of these other conservative groups. Are you prepared to do that?

NADER: It's just press releases, Judy. They have produced nothing. The real results have come by the Democrats obstructing us, infiltrating our political convention to swell the numbers so we close the doors, thinking we had enough. And...

WOODRUFF: But these conservative groups have said openly...

NADER: No, they haven't produced anything. They haven't produced anything.

WOODRUFF: ... that they're supporting you in Oregon.

NADER: They haven't produced a thing. We didn't see any evidence whatsoever. But we did see three corporate law firms in Phoenix hired by the Democrats, with the approval of Terry McAuliffe, to harass us and get us off the Arizona ballot. So the Democrats are obstructing, the Republicans are just talking.

WOODRUFF: So you're comfortable with the Democrats furious at you and the Republicans embracing you?

NADER: I'm trying to get as many votes as we can get. John McCain is being...

WOODRUFF: Even if it costs John Kerry the election?

NADER: Well, I'm not worried about John Kerry or George Bush. I'm worried about giving people an opportunity to vote for a living wage candidate, for a universal health care candidate, for a solar energy candidate, for a waging peace candidate.

Almost half of the people in this country want the troops brought back from Iraq. They're anti war now. They're turning anti war. Both (AUDIO GAP). We speak for anti-war tens of millions of Americans.

WOODRUFF: Let me quote to you, Ralph Nader, from a new article on Essentially, they are -- it's pointing out that all the people who were with you early in your career, so-called Nader's Raiders, most of them are now not supporting you. They disavowed you. And the article says, "He has inspired almost no loyalty and instead has alienated many of his closest associates."

NADER: Because most of them are closet Democrats or open Democrats. By the way, that Salon was full of errors. And I didn't get a chance to rebut. But it wasn't a survey. You know, it was just about eight, nine people being quoted, and they're not surprising in their positions.

WOODRUFF: Well, let me read to you quickly something else. It says, "Dozens of people who have worked with or for Ralph Nader over the decades have had bitter ruptures with the man they once respected and admired. The level of acrimony so widespread and acute, it's impossible to dismiss those involved as disgruntled former employees."

NADER: They're not disgruntled because there is no acrimony. We've had about over 2,000 people we've worked with over the years, counting the number of fingers on your hand how many would go into that category. They view their experiences with us, Nader's Raiders, all the good things they did in the '60s and '70s, as some of the finest experiences of their lives.

WOODRUFF: But the quotes I'm reading in here, it sounds like there is some acrimony. They're pretty angry.

NADER: Sure they're -- yes, there are a few. Some of them didn't do their work and they feel a little guilty about it.

WOODRUFF: It goes on to talk about how you have -- "Usually it was Nader himself who ratcheted up what was often just a parting of ways into professional warfare and vitriolic personal attacks."

NADER: I don't have time for that. I've never had time. This is just political gossip, which is Salon's motif.

If people really want to know how serious our campaign is, they can connect to our Web site, And you will see the dramatic differences between our agenda of the Nader-Camejo ticket and the other two parties.

WOODRUFF: Let me quote to you from what Bill Schneider, our political analyst, found. He looked at the polls in 18 states and here's what he found. He said the polls asked people how they would vote with and without your name on the ballot.

In 15 of those states, you take more votes away from Kerry than from Bush. And in three states the effect was neutral. They didn't find a single state where you helped John Kerry.

NADER: Isn't that sad? Maybe they want to take votes away from me. There was a CNN poll a month ago that showed that with me in the mix, actually George Bush is disadvantaged.

It's too early to tell. And who cares. What we want to do is address the necessities of the American people with more voices and choices and to break up this corrupt two-party system that's just a proxy for giant corporations and their influence over government and the rest of our society.

WOODRUFF: Do you think you can get elected with this amount of anger being directed at you by so many people who used to be on your side?

NADER: Well, we're six, seven percent in the polls, 12 percent among young people. Give us a chance to be on the presidential debates and maybe we'll give people a surprise.

What's his name, Jesse Ventura started out. He was eight percent. And within five weeks, he turned it in into a three-way race because he got on 10 debates in Minnesota. And he won with 38 percent of the vote.

But anyway, why prejudge the underdog? Yes, we are the underdog candidates, but there are a lot of underdogs in the United States that need a voice.


WOODRUFF: Ralph Nader arguing he is the only thing in the race pulling John Kerry to the left, in his words. The last word on high-level swearing. Up next, Vice President Cheney may not be alone when it comes to top elected officials and their use of off-color language.


WOODRUFF: As it turns out, Vice President Dick Cheney's off- color language in a recent spat with Senator Patrick Leahy may not be so unusual after all. U.S. News and World Report quotes an unnamed advisor to President Bush and a former aide to former President Clinton and Vice President Gore who say their boss have been known to use profanity. The magazines also reports President Bush advised Cheney not to apologize to Senator Leahy.

How much of a bounce does naming a vice president provide? Coming up, Bill Schneider looks back at the splashes made by past announcements and candidates.

Also, if you were busy watching real fireworks instead of the weekend's political fireworks, we'll help you catch up with what you missed.



ANNOUNCER: "Ticket Talk," it's all we can talk about. But once John Kerry announces his running mate, how much of a boost will he get and how long will the bounce last?

John Kerry says he believes life begins at conception. Will his new comments hurt his standing with abortion rights supporters?

It's a box office bonanza. Will "Fahrenheit 9/11's" success on the big screen spawn more politically-driven documentaries?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think any time any film does well in Hollywood, you will see more of that kind of film.



WOODRUFF: Welcome back.

While many of you are at home relaxing on this fifth of July -- and we are glad you are -- those of us who cover politics are busy calling and cornering anyone and everyone that might have a clue about John Kerry's V.P. choice. But the Kerry camp is keeping up in the -- up the air of mystery, mindful the suspense is likely to help keep the news media and voters interested.


GEPHARDT: I would refer all questions to the Kerry campaign. I don't know anything.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): And camp Kerry says there's nothing to know yet. Aides to the presumed nominee say he has not settled on a running mate. But one Democratic official who talked to John Kerry tells CNN the decision has already been made and will soon be announced. Scratch one name off the list.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: No, I've had no discussions. I am the most unlikely vice presidential pick you're going to find.

WOODRUFF: Delaware Senator Joe Biden says he won't be the guy.

Today, and over the weekend, the most talked about prospects were tight-lipped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hope you run. We hope you are picked.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D), NORTH CAROLINA: Thank you for that. I appreciate that very much.


WOODRUFF: Senator John Edwards took a horde of reporters along on his annual Fourth of July beach walk down the North Carolina coast. He gave a rousing endorsement of the Democratic standard-bearer.

EDWARDS: Is to do everything in your power to make sure Senator John Kerry is the next president of the United States.

WOODRUFF: But said nothing of his V.P. prospects.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Is Vilsack your guy?

KERRY: It's a great day.

WOODRUFF: Kerry kept quiet yesterday. He spent the fourth in Iowa with one of the potential number two's, Governor Tom Vilsack. They went to church and played softball on "the field of dreams." And Vilsack, too, praised Kerry while refusing to talk up his own fortunes.

TOM VILSACK (D), GOVERNOR OF IOWA: 228 years ago, Americans were a little upset with a leader named George. They put together a series of concerns. And here we are, 228 years later, and we're still concerned about a leader named George, aren't we?

WOODRUFF: This morning, Vilsack set out for a family vacation, destination unknown. Edwards jetted off to a Kerry fund-raiser in Washington, and Dick Gephardt stayed in Washington, where reporters caught he and his wife Jane taking their dog, Zack, for a walk.

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D), MISSOURI: We're going to have a little picnic later this afternoon, you're all invited.

WOODRUFF: And then he walked away.


WOODRUFF: So, with the prospect of a Kerry announcement coming in the days ahead, our White House correspondent, Dana Bash, is moonlighting on the "Ticket Talk" beat. We've got everybody engaged in this.

Dana, you're hearing something new about John Edwards, tell us about that.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, a couple of Democratic sources today are confirming what one source suggested to us yesterday, and that is that although John Edwards was on vacation last week in Walt Disney World, he did come up to Washington. He briefly interrupted that vacation to meet with John Kerry here in Washington.

Now we're told it happened on Thursday. And we're also told that he didn't tell very many members of his own staff who denied this meeting yesterday. So this is something that did happen in private yesterday. It's important to note, however, Judy, as you've been talking about over the past few weeks that we don't know what we don't know in that, yes, that there was a private meeting between these two but there could have been others with other potential contenders.

WOODRUFF: All right. Dana, you've been looking a lot into how this campaign is getting ready for this pick. Tell us what you're finding out.

BASH: Well, it seems second nature to people like you and me that obviously the campaign has to be prepared with a lot of nuts and bolts before they roll out the vice-presidential running mate of their candidate. And we do know that obviously, like all these processes, it's following the tradition of intense secrecy. But there are some things that have to go on behind the scenes.

The machinery of the campaign, as one official in the campaign put it, has to be in place. They've been working on that over the past week or so. One campaign source said that they have a list of about six to 10 potential running mates for John Kerry that they have been working on gathering a lot of information on. First of all, they've been gathering information on potential message for the ticket, what a Kerry/Vilsack ticket will be touted as could be quite different from a Kerry/Gephardt ticket, for example. They're also working on rapid response, ready for Republicans to hit them with an onslaught of attacks on this new vice presidential running mate, whoever it is, and they are getting ready, between six to 10 people getting ready, they're beefing up information on those people.

And they're also getting ready with surrogates, people who can talk about what this person was like in third grade, compiling lists of these surrogates, getting them ready because they want to really beef up this person's bio, tell their story, because they know that they have a small window to really take advantage of all the attention that is going to be on John Kerry and this running mate and they want to get as much bang for their buck as possible -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And Dana, you're also learning that the vetting process we keep talking about, Jim Johnson, has been deeper and it has been wider than a lot of us had suspected.

BASH: Well, Jim Johnson and John Kerry, as you know, have gotten a lot of kudos for the close council that they kept on this process. But we are told that John Kerry -- first of all, we just said -- we just reported, did have a meeting with John Edwards. And he's had other private meetings with possible contenders, many of which we just know about, a lot of them that have gone on behind the scenes that have been untold.

The other interesting thing is that Jim Johnson has done a lot of due diligence on people who perhaps are on the short list, people that we've talking about. For example, just to illustrate of the level he's gone to, Senator Bob Graham of Florida, he is somebody who was called, and he was asked to give some papers. But not only just papers, he has just written a book on potential intelligence lapses. That's coming out in September. Johnson wanted to actually see that manuscript. So Bob Graham sent it to the campaign so that they go through it.

WOODRUFF: Months before it comes out. And finally, quickly, Dana, the Bush campaign is already out with its own memo about this vice presidential pick.

BASH: Well, this -- the president's chief strategist, Matthew Dowd, has put out what has become a classic Matthew Dowd memo, and that is to try to manage expectations. This particular one that came out today is called "The Kerry Bounce." And it says -- he looks at polling since 1976, he says, based on that, he said, "historical analysis suggests John Kerry should have a lead of more than 15 points coming out of his convention."

Now by saying that, that allows the Bush campaign to say that "we told you so" if John Kerry does come out 15 points ahead, but also to say he didn't quite meet expectations if he doesn't. It's a classic preemptive strike.

WOODRUFF: OK. Dana Bash reporting. And she will continue to keep on reporting. Dana, thank you very much.

Well, like all would-be presidents, John Kerry says he wants a running mate who is capable of running the country. But like all would be presidents, there are many other factors to consider as well. Here now, our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Why would John Kerry pick his running mate three weeks before the convention? He's looking for a little bounce in the polls. The old idea is that you choose a running mate to balance the ticket. For Democrats, that meant making sure a southerner was on the ticket. In 1960, John Kennedy of Massachusetts balanced the ticket with a Texas Democrat and a rival for the nomination, Lyndon Johnson. Smart move, it got Kennedy Texas.

MICHAEL DUKAKIS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The next vice president of the United States of America.

SCHNEIDER: Another Massachusetts Democrat, Michael Dukakis, tried to do the same thing in 1988, when he picked Texas Democrat Lloyd Benson. It didn't work a second time.

Now we have yet another Massachusetts Democrat, with several southerners he can pick from. But there's not much pressure on Kerry to unify the party. President Bush has already done that.

In 1992, Bill Clinton certainly didn't pick Al Gore to balance the ticket. Gore was picked to reinforce Clinton's message that he was a new democrat. Clinton got a little bounce in the polls when he named Gore. Kerry could reinforce the message that he can keep the country safe with former General Wesley Clark. He could reinforce his economic message with labor favorite Dick Gephardt.

In 2000, Al Gore chose Lieberman to help compensate for a weakness, his ties to Clinton. Lieberman was Clinton's severest democratic critic.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: He failed to show, I think, that he understood his behavior had diminished the office he holds and country he serves.

SCHNEIDER: Gore got a bounce out of that choice, too, five points. Does Kerry have a weakness he needs to compensate for? Yes. He lacks the common touch. Who has it? John Edwards.

Kerry is sometimes described as a conventional candidate, like Walter Mondale in 1984. When Mondale named the first woman to a major party ticket, it was a spectacularly unconventional move that made voters take a fresh look. Maybe he's a more interesting guy than we thought. A surprise move like that could get people to sit up and take notice.


SCHNEIDER: In the end, however, Mondale's bold move didn't work. He lost, so did Dukakis, so did gore, even though their vice-presidential choices were widely acclaimed, which all goes prove Americans don't vote for vice president. So what does the choice of a running mate really get you? Some attention. Judy?

WOODRUFF: Well, it is certainly doing that. We're giving him the attention. Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

In the arena of what's intriguing, we want to share with you what John Kerry just said, moments ago, in Pittsburgh to a group of people who were at the picnic at his farm that he owns with his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. He invited everybody there to come to a rally tomorrow in downtown Pittsburgh, because, he said, we're going to have a little fun tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. and then head back on the trail. Of course, all the reporters who heard this, their ears perked up, thinking maybe this is the V.P. announcement. We have no way of knowing if that's what it is, but we're telling you just what John Kerry had to say just a few moments ago from Sasha Johnson producing for us as John Kerry is in Pittsburgh. We're checking the headlines now in our campaign news daily. A colleague who served in Vietnam with John Kerry is among the military reservists being called back to active duty. "Newsweek" reports that Mike Medeiros is among those being called up to help fill the military ranks. Medeiros, who is now 56 years old, once served on a swift boat in Vietnam commanded by John Kerry.

We told you about Boston's mayor's tangling with John Kerry. Well, now it looks like it's New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's turn to tussle with national leaders of his party. Bloomberg has sparred with party leaders over the timing of GOP convention street closings. Recently he also withdrew an invitation to Ohio Congressman Bob Ney for a party gathering at his home. Bloomberg was not happy that Ney, among other Republicans, voted against a bill that would have shifted millions in anti-terrorism funding from rural areas to the nation's cities.

The bottom of ticket isn't the only thing Democrats are talking about. Up next, did John Kerry create problems for himself with his latest comments on abortion?

Plus, move over "Fahrenheit 911", we'll tell you about other politically charged pictures coming to a movie screen near you.

And later, snapshots from the trail, a holiday weekend filled with political pictures worth a thousand words.


WOODRUFF: John Kerry's weekend trip to the Midwest was designed to improve his standing among rural voters. He also surprised observers with his comments on abortion to an Iowa newspaper. After repeating his personal opposition to abortion, something he has said before, Kerry went on to say, quote, "I believe life does begin at conception." This is believed to be the first time Kerry has described when he believes life begins.

Kerry's Midwest trip also included visits to a Wisconsin farm and a shooting range. The stop gave Kerry chance to talk to locals about agriculture policy and to show off his trap shooting skills.

With me now to talk more about all this, CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein from the "Los Angeles Times." Ron, let's talk first about the abortion comment. Apparently this is the first time he's been so specific to say, I believe life begins at conception. What does it represent politically?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, it's surprising in one sense and not in another. The line that he drew in this interview has been pretty common for Catholic Democrats over the last twenty years to argue their personal faith leads them to these conclusions but don't believe they can legislate their personal faith on the rest of a pluralistic society. That's not a new argument, but it certainly is, for John Kerry, a very different emphasis. Remember, Judy, this is a candidate who, during the Democratic primary, said that he would only appoint justices who explicitly supported Roe v. Wade; he would have a litmus test for the appointment of Supreme Court justices. He has never repudiated that pledge, but here he is clearly trying to send a signal to more conservative voters, that even if he doesn't agree with them on the policy of the issue, he shares some of their basic values. It's of the piece you showed on guns, part of this whole tour, emphasizing values over the weekend.

WOODRUFF: So, we'll have to find out whether he can have it both ways, in essence.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, the question is, first of all, will there be any backlash. The campaign said today they haven't really heard any backlash from Democratic interest groups. It is a holiday, there are other things going on, as we've been talking about. I do think Republicans will say he is trying to have it both ways. Again, it is not a completely unusual thing for a Catholic Democrat to say. It is a little bit difference in tone and emphasis from the way he has dealt with the issue before, though.

WOODRUFF: What about the rural vote? The whole point of this trip to the Midwest supposedly was to go after rural voters. What are his prospects? The Democrat Al Gore did not do well among rural voters four years ago.

BROWNSTEIN: The fact they went there shows that they understand how important this is to their overall prospects. I think the biggest change in the electorate from '96 when Clinton won to 2000 when Gore lost was the collapse of Democrats in rural areas. Really, small town America turned way from Gore dramatically, helped win Bush states like Missouri and Ohio, and made it much tougher for Democrats in places like Minnesota and Iowa. This is clearly high on the list for John Kerry, to not necessarily win these places but reduce the margin.

If you can ask which voters are going to have the most say in picking the next president, you can do worse than pick small-town voters in the Midwest.

WOODRUFF: And I remember, he's now talking about growing up on a farm. I guess he lived near a farm.

BROWNSTEIN: Learning cuss words on a tractor.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, the fact that John Kerry is saying, hang around, we're going to have a little fun tomorrow at 9:00?

BROWNSTEIN: Look, I think -- you have probably talked to several members of staff today who have said the same thing. Not clear that he's asking them. But if he asked the senior staff, it's time to do this. There's really no value in stretching this out over the rest of the week trying to find the perfect way to do this. It gets in the way of anything else they're trying to do. There is not much other message they can get out while the frenzy is this high. If he's made his decision, it may be time to share it with the world, at least according to some of those who work for him.

WOODRUFF: On the other hand, we are paying attention to him while we wait. (LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: We'll see how long we can stretch it out. Ron Brownstein, thank you very much.

"Spider-Man" ruled the movie theaters this holiday weekend. But Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911" is not only holding on, it is creating an appetite for more political documentaries. We'll look at what's ahead next.


WOODRUFF: Michael Moore's documentary, "Fahrenheit 911" continues to attract movie-goers. The film took in an estimated $21 million over the past four days alone, raising its total to more than $60 million. As expected now that is far behind "Spider-Man"'s six- day take of $180 million, but still good enough for second place at the holiday weekend box office.

As Sibila Vargas reports, even more politically motivated documentaries will soon be arriving on the pop culture scene.



SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So far, films with a liberal slant seem poised to dominate the market, but conservative groups are striking back.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you. Now watch this drive.

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Moore's anti-Bush documentary "Fahrenheit 911 made history with its unprecedented box office success.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The controversy that has surrounded the film I believe has probably contributed a great deal to how well it has performed, which is something that we saw earlier in the year with "The Passion of the Christ." It became an event film. It was the movie that you had to see because everybody was talking about it.

VARGAS: And it's the movie's financial success that some feel may attract greater public attention to politically driven documentaries.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think anytime any film does well in Hollywood, you will see more of that kind of film.

VARGAS: Director and producer Robert Greenwald's documentary "Uncovered: The War in Iraq" has already sold more than 100,000 DVDs. Its theatrical release is scheduled in mid-August, just two weeks before the Republican National Convention.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was thrilled about the success of "Fahrenheit 911." What it means to me personally is that there is an audience for documentaries.

VARGAS: Greenwald's film isn't the only documentary that may benefit from the Moore effect. Cinema Libre Studio, the distributor behind "Uncovered" is also backing more political documentaries, like "The Oil Factor: Behind the War on Terror", and "Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election", set to release in upcoming months.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There have always been documentary makers. And they've always had an impact on social issues. But those have been localized social issues rather than attempts to mobilize a nation around a political position.

VARGAS (on camera): So far films with a liberal slant seem poised to dominate the market. But conservative groups are striking back. A new film festival in Dallas, called the American Film Renaissance, is scheduled, symbolically enough, for September 11.

(voice-over): "Michael Moore Hates America" and "Confronting Iraq" are just two of the films on the festival's slate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The movie business, setting aside politics, is a business, and people will only show pictures for as long as they think they can sell popcorn based on them.

VARGAS: Whether the success of "Fahrenheit 911" will be repeated by these films remains to be seen. But in this election year, documentaries have become a new political battleground.

Sibila Vargas, CNN Los Angeles.


WOODRUFF: And yet another politically tinged documentary is set to premiere in September. George Butler, whose documentary "Pumping Iron," helped launch Arnold Schwarzenegger's film career, is producing a 90-minute film about John Kerry's life and tour of duty in Vietnam.

When we return, baseball, hot dogs and campaigning candidates. A look back at the holiday weekend and the all-American events on the campaign trail.


WOODRUFF: From a baseball field to the original "Field of Dreams", the Independence Day weekend has been full of the traditional parades and fireworks, as well as candidates Kerry, Bush and Cheney on the road in search of votes.

Here now are some of the highlights.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, you can do better than that.


CHENEY: In case you didn't know it, I'm Dick Cheney.


CHENEY: You guys want to hear this speech or not?




WOODRUFF: Well, they may not get elected, but they can shoot, run and pitch. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us on this July 5.

"CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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