This is a partial transcript of "Special Report with Brit Hume," July 6, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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JOHN KERRY, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That with your help, the next vice president of the United States of America will be Senator John Edwards (search) from North Carolina.




BRIT HUME, HOST: No lack of enthusiasm there. Vice presidential selections have little history of deciding races, but they are always a test of a candidate, and they provide opportunity as well as peril.

For more on how well John Kerry (search) took the opportunity and avoided the peril, pleased to be joined by Fox News contributor, law professor, columnist, and veteran of many a Democratic campaign.

Susan Estrich (search), who comes to us tonight from Las Vegas, where she went to collect on her bets that it was going to be Edwards.


HUME: Just kidding, Susan. You did have it right all along.

SUSAN ESTRICH, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I got this one right since March, I think, Brit...

HUME: Let's go down the list of the things you looking for when you make this choice. First of all, sometimes it's balance. Ticket balancing it used to be called. What about that?

ESTRICH: Well, that works well with Edwards, obviously. He comes from the south. He is considered, I guess, a southerner. He is a little bit smooth. He is empathetic. If Kerry's weakness is that he is considered a bit, shall we say, boring, some say. Edwards is obviously warm and empathetic.

He is the son of a mill worker. Whereas, Kerry is the son of well, the poor WASPS, I guess he often says. But Kerry comes from the upper class. Obviously, Edwards comes from the working class. Edwards is from North Carolina, Kerry from Massachusetts. So you've obviously got that balance going right there.

HUME: Now, what about ideological balance. Maybe you don't want ideological balance sometimes. It doesn't appear at least, you know, from the voting records anyway, that Edwards gives much of that? What about that?

ESTRICH: I don't know. I don't know how you judge Edwards on that. Obviously, Edwards campaigned as a liberal, I think. In fact, during the very brief period when there was a two-man race here, if anything, Edwards ran a little bit to Kerry's left, at least on the union issues. But I think it's fair to say Edwards and Kerry are pretty close together ideologically.

HUME: All right. Now, sometimes you look — I mean the choice is always one where you have to pick somebody, it is said, who is immediately qualified to be president. There have been — it's been noted of Edwards that his public career has been quite short. I mean he is serving — he is finishing his rookie season as it were as a senator. That's good experience, of course. But is his first crack at public life. Is he, do you think in the end, experienced enough?

ESTRICH: Well, look at this way that the voters thought he was almost experienced enough to be president right now. You know, he went...

HUME: He didn't really come — well, he really didn't come close.

ESTRICH: Well, he came closer than Dick Gephardt did. You know, you have to look at this way. There was Dick Gephardt, who had been in Congress for forever at least as far as I can remember, and he finished well behind Edwards.

And in fact, what I find is striking is that four years ago when Gore was making his selection, Edwards was on the short list then. In fact, I remember Bill Clinton calling me on the phone shortly before the 2000 convention, and saying to me his top choice for Gore four years ago was Edwards. And to be honest, I hadn't even barely heard of Edwards then! And I said what are you talking about? Edwards has only been in the Senate two years at that point, and Clinton was pushing him then.

So Edwards, while he may have only been in the Senate six years, is viewed by many people as probably the most talented young face in the Democratic Party. And so in that sense certainly beats Dan Quayle. Some would say that compared to Cheney, he comes across as a fresh face, full of empathy, happy to be there, connecting with voters.

HUME: You may recall...

ESTRICH: May be yes.

HUME: ... and I'm not sure many other people do that he made that gaff in the debate in Baltimore on the question of...


HUME: ... about what the Defense of Marriage Act was about. It was - - he clearly stated it absolutely backwards. The media were at one of their swoons over him at that time and it didn't get much coverage. But I wonder if there's any reason to worry that something like that might happen again. And it would probably get more scrutiny, wouldn't you agree?

ESTRICH: I would, although I never was sure. You and I are probably the only people inside enough to know what we're talking about here. That had to do with issues of gay marriage, which he had a lot of trouble with as a candidate. Because he was from North Carolina, he was dancing on that issue. He had a lot of gay support as a candidate. And I thought he was really — I think that question might have been from you, wasn't it?

HUME: It was. Well, I just picked — it came up, and he said it, I thought, wrong. I took him back to it. That was my rating. I didn't get in the middle of it much. I took him back to it, and he said it wrong again. He said the Defense of Marriage Act did exactly what it doesn't do.


HUME: And I — nobody — you know, it didn't get much play. But I thought it was striking. You know, I couldn't tell whether he was fudging or whether he really didn't know.

ESTRICH: I thought he was fudging because...

HUME: Really?

ESTRICH: ... I think he really did know. Yes. Because I mean, you know, I was back in Los Angeles with him two years ago, when he was first courting the gay community as a candidate. And they hit him pretty hard up about what he was going to do about the gay marriage issue. And I remembered thinking at the time boy, this guy has got a tight rope to walk.

HUME: Speaking of which...

ESTRICH: If he's from North Carolina, and he is walking this one.

HUME: There are a lot of people who say he couldn't carry his home state and he wouldn't have been re-elected. What do you say about that?

ESTRICH: Well, I think it was very tough. Because I think once you're from the south and you are trying to run for president, particularly in a Democratic primary, as he was looking for a place to carve out support, he had made a decision that he was no longer trying to be the senator from North Carolina. That he was trying to run as a national candidate. And I think he made a calculated decision.

And to be quite honest, Brit, it worked. I think he was going to be a national audience, and that worked. But that's why I thought when you were doing that in that debate that he was fudging.

HUME: Got you.

ESTRICH: Not that he didn't know what it was about; he is a very smart lawyer.

HUME: Always interesting, always knowledgeable. Susan, it's a pleasure to have you. Thank you.

ESTRICH: And fun.

HUME: Got to...

ESTRICH: Kerry picked well, I think.

HUME: All right.

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