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All networks lead with Kerry's choice for a running mate. ABC: Dan Harris/ NBC: Karl Quintanilla /CBS: Byron Pitts.
ABC's Dan Harris: ABC News has learned that last Thursday, Sen. Edwards interrupted a family vacation in Florida to fly back to Washington for a secret late-night meeting with Sen. Kerry, a meeting sources say went quite well. Today, Kerry held a large backyard BBQ for supporters at his wife's estate outside Pittsburgh, with no mention about what's expected to be an imminent announcement of a running mate. When asked by reporters whether his search is now focusing on Edwards, he said he has not made a decision yet. Kerry's Communications Chief said as of this morning, Kerry had not made up his mind about who he'll pick, but ABC News has learned that as the search focuses on Edwards, some Democrats were doing a last minute review of his records over the weekend. Edwards was on Boston today for a fundraiser on Kerry's behalf. As for the others thought to be on Kerry's short list, Gephardt fended off questions while walking his dog, and Sen. Hillary Clinton, considered a long shot at best, attended a pre-scheduled event in upstate New York. Kerry has insisted on maintaing an extremely high level of privacy during this process. Even aides who are with him around the clock, claim not to know what he is thinking. There are several Democratic sources with strong indications that Kerry is ready to make an announcement. Sources also tell us the Kerry campaign has put together a staff of 15 people, including a press secretary and chief of staff to serve whoever gets the nod.
NBC's Karl Quintanilla reports the Kerry campaign insists the Senator has not made up his mind. Speculation makes one think that he will make an announcement tomorrow. The presumed contender like Gephardt had little comment today: "I have to refer those questions to the Kerry campaign." There are clues that a nominee is in the works. Extra staffers have been flown in for a large scale morning rally. In the four months since Kerry launched his search, the leading prospects have been Gephardt, Edwards, and Vilsack. The guessing game has also been the campaign's most effective PR. Morris Reid: "also gives Kerry additional manpower." Kerry will make calls 30-60 minutes before the official announcement via email. In response, the Bush campaign is expected to launch ads emphasizing his ties to McCain, making it seem like whoever Kerry picks was not his first choice. We may have our answers in just a number of hours.
Brian Williams two-way with John Harwood of the Wall Street Journal:
JH: It does matter who the VP choice is. Kerry is looking to breakthrough in a way he has not been able to. He's go us right where he wants us now.
JH: Gephardt is the safe choice that Kerry could make. He is the closest thing to somebody that you could count on not to make a mistake, but he doesn't excite a lot of people. Edwards is the guy that Kerry could turn to if he needs juice on his ticket. He's got an expressive message on bringing two Americas together. The downside is, is he ready to be President in 8 years? Also, his relationship with Kerry has been strained at times. Vilsack is a bit of a wildcard. It would be good for Kerry to have a Governor on his ticket. But his home state of Iowa may be on Democrats think they can win without him. Also, we don't know how he will perform.
CBS' Byron Pitts reports Sen. Kerry is said to be less than 24 hours away from announcing who his running mate will be. Two of the top contenders were also not talking today. Edwards is fundraising for Kerry in Boston, but last week he met secretly with Kerry in Washington. Gephardt enjoyed the holiday in Washington, even inviting the press corps to join him for a picnic. Even without a name yet, a vice presidential staff, office space, secret service detail and a chartered plane, are already in place. Whoever Kerry picks, the VP plan is set. Staffers have been told to "be ready to move overnight for a possible Tuesday announcement." Sen. Kerry will notify the winners and losers by phone, but the official announcement will be emailed to campaign supporters. Shortly thereafter, Kerry and his running mate will go on the road together. The Senator has said he wants a "leak proof plan" but party insiders say "don't bet on it." Donna Brazile: "At some point between God and calling the nominee, it will be leaked. That's just the nature of the beast."
CBS' Bob Orr reports at every stop on his bus tour, Vice President Cheney was on the attack. Protestors dogged him from Ohio through West Virginia and into Pennsylvania, but Cheney is not bending. He insists there is a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda; maintains Iraq harbored WMDs before the war, and recently bragged he felt better after searing at Sen. Leahy. A CBS/NYT Poll suggests Cheney may be a "drag" on the Republican ticket. 31-percent gave Cheney and unfavorable rating. Only 22-percent gave him a favorable rating. He's very well regarded by the Conservative wing and the moderate wing of the Republican Party. The issue is whether he is attractive to swing voters and independents. Concerns over Cheney's heart problems have some insiders whispering about a possible replacement. Craig Crowford says Cheney was the President's loyalty.
Brian Williams V/O: There is a new Bush TV ad in the works featuring Sen. John McCain.
WHERE DO THEY STAND? TAXES:
CBS' Mike Brzezinski reports a big issue this election year for many Americans is the tax burden. President Bush plans to make his tax cuts permanent. Mostly so does Sen. Kerry, but for families making more than 20,000 dollars, he would eliminate the tax break all together. That doesn't mean new tax cuts. He would use the 224 billion dollars raised by eliminating the tax cuts for the rich to pay for Middle Class tax credits for health care and college tuition. Both Bush and Kerry are expected to come out with more detailed tax plans before the election.
ABC's Kate Snow reports in the summer of 2000, Vice President Cheney was the surprise pick to join the Republican ticket. With a history of heart attacks, some wondered if he was healthy enough to be Vice President, so his personal physician, Dr. Gary Malakoff wrote a letter assuring voters Cheney was "up to the task of the most sensitive public office." But new revelations show Dr. Malakoff was abusing drugs. His case is not unusual, but uncovering the abuse can be tough, since most states don't require colleagues to report on suspicious behavior. Dr. Malakoff did seek treatment but its still unclear when the Vice President learned his doctor had a problem. Cheney's office emphasized Malakoff was just one member of a team of doctors.
(Charlie Gibson substitutes)
1. John Kerry is about to make known his choice of a running mate. (Dan Harris, Pittsburgh, Pa.)
2. Confusion but optimism about the fate of an American Marine being held hostage in Iraq. (John Berman, Baghdad)
3. A tape backs up the Bush administration's claim that foreign fighters are participating in attacks on U-S forces in Iraq. (Jonathan Karl, State Department)
4. A former doctor to VP Cheney has been battling an addiction to prescription drugs for some time. (Kate Snow, White House)
5. Closer Look: Pennsylvania will have more slot machines than any state with the exception of Nevada. (Jake Tapper, Washington)
6. Wildfires in Arizona.
7. Cases where hospitals are overcharging uninsured patients and then harassing them for payment. (Dean Reynolds, Chicago)
8. Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski will stay at Duke University and the Greek soccer team won the European Championship.
9. A program to keep both people and bears safe. (Bill Redeker, Denver)
(John Roberts substitutes)
1. Veepstakes (Byron Pitts, Pittsburgh, Pa.)
2. Cheney (Bob Orr, White House)
3. Cheney's personal physician has been under treatment for abusing prescription drugs.
4. American forces hit a safe house in Fallujah. (Kimberly Dozier, Baghdad)
5. Hassoun. (Lee Cowan, West Jordan, Utah)
6. Band of Brothers shipping out to Iraq.
7. Fallen heroes.
8. Cholesterol (Elizabeth Kaledin, NY)
9. Wildfires in the West.
10. British lawmakers rejected an outright ban on spanking.
11. What does it mean to you? Taxes. (Mika Brzezinski, NY)
12. Elvis recording. (Mark Strassman, Memphis, Tenn.)
(Brian Williams substitutes)
1. Veepstakes. (Karl Quintanilla, Fox Chapel, Pa.)
2. Veepstakes. (Two-way with Wall Street Journal's John Harwood)
3. Ad wars.
4. Looters in Iraq launched an attack on a pipeline in Karbala.
5. U.S. forces took aim at one of Zarqawi's safe houses. (Tom Aspell, Baghdad)
6. Inside Sadr City. (Kevin Sites, Baghdad)
7. In Depth: Smoke in National Parks (Martin Savage, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tenn.)
8. The fate of Hassoun.
9. Wildfires in Arizona.
10. Massachusetts is the latest state to order a statewide ban on cigarettes.
11. Pennsylvania could have more legal slot machines than any state except Nevada.
12. Listening to the voices of America. (Roger O'Neil, Pigeon Porch, Tenn.)