Trail Dust: Hot Five

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys," March 6, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Not that we've been asked, but Fred and I have come up with our list of running mates for John Kerry, and that's the subject of this week's trail dust.

With John Edwards (search) officially out of the race, buzz about a possible Kerry-Edwards ticket is all the rage in Washington. But he's not our pick for the top spot. We think that Dick Gephardt (search) is the best choice, followed by Indiana Senator Evan Bayh (search), Florida Senator Bob Graham (search), John Edwards (search), and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (search).

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: You know, John Edwards has always insisted that he doesn't want to be vice president. But he certainly has changed his tune from last Sunday, when he was zinging Kerry, until Wednesday, after Kerry had locked up the nomination, where he's, he's sucking up to him. Listen, this is striking.


SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D), NORTH CAROLINA: I want to say to Senator Kerry, I have lived with this my entire life. I saw what happened when the mill in my hometown closed that my own father worked in. I respect your - - you have a right to have a different view than I do. But to suggest for a moment that this is not personal to me...



EDWARDS: He showed the strength, the resilience, the courage that he has shown his entire life when he fought for us and for our country in Vietnam. He's done it throughout this campaign. The truth of the matter is that John Kerry has what it takes right here to be president of the United States...


BARNES: Strength, resilience, courage. We didn't mention those words in Kerry's neighborhood until after Kerry had locked up the nomination.

You know, Gephardt and Bayh, Dick Gephardt and Evan Bayh, I think, would help the ticket for ... for the same reasons. One, they're both from the Middle West, with, and that's where this campaign is going to be played out in the Middle West, the manufacturing states and so on.

And, secondly, they balance the ticket ideologically in a way. Gephardt only because he's pro-war, pro-Iraq War, that's not a full ideological balance, and Evan Bayh because he's a moderate and Kerry's a liberal.

KONDRACKE: Yes. And the advantage with Gephardt is that he's experienced, which Edwards is not. He's got a strong foreign policy, as you mentioned. He is also a passionate speaker, you know, Edwards tends to be charming, but can also be passionate.

But the, the problem with both Edwards and Gephardt is that they really are old-style...


KONDRACKE: ... industrial age protectionists. And, you know, that is not what the new industrial age demands. I mean, and Evan Bayh is a New Democrat, head of the Democratic Leadership Council and would bring that along, although he's not very charismatic, I'd have to say.

And I'm not sure that the ticket exactly needs two graduates of St. Alban's School in Washington, D.C., very, very chi-chi.

BARNES: Yes, well, right, well, maybe not, but I, Evan Bayh might, might not even win his home state of Indiana, but I think he would help in those states. And he is actually one of the only New Democrats left. So many of them shift, have shifted to the left, a number of them backed Howard Dean even. So the DLC, which once was pulling the party to the center, really isn't doing it that any more.

But, but Evan Bayh is still... a real new Democrat.

KONDRACKE: Well, there are, there are a couple of other names ... in play. One of them is Bob Kerrey, former, former senator from Nebraska, war hero...

BARNES: Yes, let's not muddy the water here.

KONDRACKE: ... and, you know, yes, well, OK, but I got to just, just got to tell you this. There are Democrats who still think, and I think they're wacky...


KONDRACKE: ... that they can persuade John McCain to defect from the Republican Party and run with Kerry. I mean, McCain said that, that he wasn't going to do it...and furthermore, he's the co-chairman of the Arizona Bush campaign...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... so even though he, you know, he has his differences...


KONDRACKE: ... significant differences with, with Bush, that's, you know, dreamland.

BARNES: Yes, but you had to mention it anyway, huh?

KONDRACKE: I did, well, you know, it's...

BARNES: ... even though it's cockeyed...

KONDRACKE: ... it's, it's around, yes, you know...

BARNES: ... yes, it's ... far-fetched.

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