This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys," September 18, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Stephen Keyes, for taking time to be with us here today. You know, I want to start by saying a word about something that's coming...

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Reassessing John Edwards' role on the Democratic ticket is the topic of this week's trail dust.

While Dick Cheney (search) is out pummeling John Kerry on a nearly daily basis, many Democrats are asking, Where is Edwards? The veep nominee has taken a low-profile role, and some fear that he's pulling his punches. Here's Edwards in action earlier this week.

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EDWARDS: If you believe that millions of people losing their jobs, millions of people going into poverty, millions of people who've lost their health insurance, family income down while the cost of virtually everything is going up, and at the same time, the mess that we have on the ground in Iraq, if you believe that America's headed in the right direction, you ought to vote for George Bush and Dick Cheney. If you don't, you ought to vote for President John Kerry.

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FRED BARNES, CO-H0ST: Well, he made ... a few mistakes in there, but it's clear, and, Mort, I think you'll agree, he's no Dick Cheney ... that's, that's for sure. I mean, Cheney's been out there really sharply criticizing Kerry, gets enormous press attention. I talked to one of his guys the other day, and they're surprised at how much press is there, because he's saying things that are interesting.

John Edwards is not saying anything interesting, and the truth is, I was dubious of his selection. I give my colleague Bill Kristol at The Weekly Standard credit for ... the first to say naming Edwards was a mistake. And it was. I think we know that now. Look, he's not going to win a single state, even North Carolina, his home state, for John Kerry.

And the worst part is, he has galvanized the business community, some of which John Kerry might have gotten behind him, but he's galvanized them in favor of Bush and against Kerry because John Edwards is a trial lawyer. Trial lawyers drive the business community crazy, they go Krakatoa. And they have.

KONDRACKE: Yes.

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: The only thing, the only memorable thing that I can think of that John Edwards said was ... actually a low blow...

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: ... to accuse Dick Cheney of being un-American, not, not good.

Now, you might think that Edwards's sweetsie-tootsie act is some sort of an attempt to make himself attractive for the 2008...

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: ... campaign, but, but look, vice presidents do what they're told by the presidential campaign. So now it's time for, and here's more, more advice to Joe Lockhart, take John Edwards off his Paxil and make him into a slasher, if you can.

BARNES: Sweetsie-tootsie, huh? All right.

Let's take a look at this week's battleground polls.

We begin in Pennsylvania (search). President Bush has opened a 3-point lead in the Keystone State. He's leading there for the second week in a row. Gore won Pennsylvania by 4 in 2000.

Kerry's up by 6 in Michigan (search). He seems to be solidifying there. Gore won that state by 5 in 2000.

Minnesota (search), the great liberal state, once, moves into Bush's column in this, this week. He has a 2-point lead there over Kerry. Kerry had been leading in Minnesota for the past several months. Gore won Minnesota in 2000 by 2 points.

It's tightening in Oregon (search), where Kerry's been leading by a hefty margin the past several months. He's only up 2 points in the latest ARG poll. Gore won that state by roughly 7,000 votes in 2000.

And President Bush's lead in Colorado, normally a conservative state, has nearly vanished. He's leading Kerry only by 2 points there. Bush won Colorado by nearly 10 points in 2000.

KONDRACKE: So President Bush picks up Minnesota, increasing his electoral lead. He now has 300 electoral votes to Kerry's 238.

BARNES: At least, that's our count.

KONDRACKE: Yes, right.

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