Washington Prowler

Kerry Says Get Ready

Veep finalists put on alert. Including Hillary? Also: Cheney out of the box.

By 7.1.04

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DESPERATE MEASURES
Could it be that desperation is setting in a bit more, well, desperately in the Kerry campaign? Up till now, most political tea leaf readers had Kerry announcing his decision on vice president coming the week of July 11. But recent polling numbers may have Kerry advisers changing those plans.

According to a Kerry campaign source, Sen. John Edwards, Rep. Dick Gephardt, Gov. Tom Vilsack, Gen. Wesley Clark, and "a surprise candidate" were each contacted on Wednesday and told to be prepared for an announcement with Kerry as early as July 6. Each short-lister provided the campaign with updated contact and travel information for the July 4 weekend and afterward.

"It's accelerated. It all began happening on Wednesday," says the campaign source. "For the past week we've been told there was no decision, then all of sudden, this. We've been sifting through some cruddy poll numbers, so maybe that has something to do with it."

Cruddy indeed. New polling from a number of sources, including internal polling, has Kerry struggling and even lagging in a race that by all rights he should be leading by low double digits.

"When you factor in a president down in the 40s of approval, and a candidate that many people claim they don't know much about, there is no way we should be losing Michigan and Pennsylvania. But we are," says the Kerry adviser. "We've spent $50 million and have nothing to show for it. Not a single point."

According to the source, the thinking goes that a complete Kerry ticket out in public sooner rather than later should energize things enough in the media and the base to give Kerry the uptick his people have been waiting for.

There was no indication of who the "surprise" candidate was. "It could be Hillary. It's assumed that she has been vetted on a separate track from the others. At least that's the talk. No one here knows for sure," says the source.

Edwards was due in Boston after the July 4th holiday for campaign appearances, at least one of which was to be with Kerry.

According to a Clinton Senate staffer in New York City, late on Wednesday, a staff colleague called from the road and indicated that "the Senator may need to change some things around next week." "But we weren't told to do anything for now," says the staffer.

CHENEY TOWN
Press reports to the contrary, Vice President Dick Cheney received several warm, extended rounds of applause at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night.

The New York Times, as well as other media outfits, reported that Cheney was booed. But the boo-birds were only heard after the applause and the cheers died down a bit. "

"The vice president would not have come down from the owner's box to sit in the stands if he was getting booed," says a vice presidential staffer. "He's got a thick skin. He knows what to expect from New York fans at Yankee Stadium with the Red Sox in town."

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