This is a partial transcript of "Special Report with Brit Hume," July 27, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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BRIT HUME, HOST: It's worth remembering here that there was a time not so many months ago when almost nobody thought this convention would be nominating John Kerry (search). But he rallied his forces and with the help of a highly able campaign manager, staged the comeback that has led him to this moment.

That able campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill (search), also a long had-time close aide to Senator Edwards, joins me now.



HUME: And congratulations.

CAHILL: Thank you very much.

HUME: I must ask you for openers about this photograph that suddenly turned up and fell in our laps last night. No one thought it was coming. No one even had reported on the event, which led to it. But there he was, the senator, on all fours in this very peculiar outfit, which I guess NASA (search) had given him. How did that come about?

CAHILL: Well, yesterday Senator John Glenn (search) (sic), obviously he was an astronaut in his previous life and Senator Kerry took a tour of a bio facility at NASA. And it was just the two of them and the NASA staff. And all of a sudden this was a leaked photo. And it is all over the place.

HUME: It was leaked?


HUME: Because I think it was made by NASA, right?

CAHILL: It was.

HUME: So the campaign had no idea there would be any photographs...


HUME: ... when it was agreed that he would put on his costume.

CAHILL: None. And there was no press there. There was no anything. And then all of the sudden these photographs were out.

HUME: Do you smell a dirty trick here?

CAHILL: Well, what do you think?

HUME: Well, I don't know. I mean NASA is not a particularly political organization. I mean...

CAHILL: This was a legitimate tour that Senator Glenn and Senator Kerry were taking at Cape Canaveral. And all of the sudden these photographs appeared. And you know, take it as you may.

HUME: Well, is there any concern that this photo might prove as embarrassing as obviously the fabled tank photo did in 1988?

CAHILL: Well, you know, I think NASA will release the photograph of Senator Glenn, former astronaut, in the same...

HUME: In fact, there is a floor shot with a bunch of them in these outfits. He is not running, of course, Glenn.

CAHILL: Well, and the thing was this is a legitimate tour of a NASA facility. And this photograph appeared out of nowhere. We were surprised then. We're not surprised now.

HUME: You don't have anyone in mind do you think may be responsible. Do you? Or do you?

CAHILL: I don't.

HUME: All right. Let me turn also to something that I know certainly surprised me when I woke this morning, was to read this new "Washington Post"-ABC poll. Just to take a look at a couple of numbers in there. The horse race number, which in the "Post" poll, which had favored Senator Kerry by, what? Six or eight points the last time around. Now has President Bush slightly ahead favorable, unfavorable change in the president's direction.

The momentum had appeared clearly to be with the Kerry campaign. Other polls showed that. What do you make of this poll?

CAHILL: I take it that in this last week there have been nine public polls. And all of the rest of them were an average of three points ahead in the head-to-head race. We know that this is a 50-50 nation, and the real numbers here are that the president's re-elect are so low and his favor ability is even lower than that. I think that the country wants a change. And I think that this poll is an anomaly.

HUME: So in other words, your sense is that this is one of these things that you do occasionally get. Which is that...

CAHILL: Exactly.

HUME: ... this is a poll that's out of sync with all of the other polls.

CAHILL: Exactly. There have been so many other polls that show us extremely tight, with us slightly ahead.

HUME: Now, often with the bad poll there will be, you know, internal inconsistencies. Which you look out for, which makes you think there's something funny about it. This one though, it seemed kind of across the board on a range of issues and other things. Other signs that might give us that there's something wrong with the sample, or the poll?

CAHILL: Well, you know, I think that the major numbers here are that Senator Kerry has enormous leads on taking care of health care, on who would make the economy better, on the things that really make a difference in people's lives. That's been a consistent in every poll that we've seen lately. And I think that those are very important indicators for the fall.

HUME: There has been a sense for a long time that the race hasn't moved very much. It's been basically tied for a long time. Would you continue to think this poll, notwithstanding this race, is basically a tie? Or do you believe your man is really ahead?

CAHILL: Well, you know, we think that we're slightly ahead at this point in time, because every public poll we see says that. But we know that this is a very tight race, and the numbers that really matter are those of the president. And when an incumbent president is in the shape that President Bush is in, it's a pretty close race.

HUME: Now, you've heard repeatedly that this is, of course, Senator Kerry's best chance to introduce himself in a way that he hasn't been able to before, because of the sheer size of the audience he'll have on Thursday night. If he does that well, and one presumes he will, he has a way of rising to occasions. How much help do you estimate that will be, or if you can translate it into numbers.

HUME: Well, as we've talked about over the course of the week, we have about somewhere between 45 and 48 percent, and President Bush has slightly less. There really is not that much -- there are not that many undecided voters available. So it is not possible to get that much of a bounce. I think for us the thing that will really matter is that people will know more about Senator Kerry and they'll be in a better position to make their decision after the debates in November.

HUME: Let me ask you about the month ahead. Obviously the Republicans are rolling in dough, as they have...

CAHILL: Have been, yes.

HUME: They'll have the opportunity to roll out ads and money, I guess, a lot of it they kind of have to spend or they lose. Because it's the pre-convention period. Will you be trying to match them, in terms of your advertising, to counter what they do? Or to do what you do and make them counter that? Are you not going to be able to do that?

CAHILL: We have both chosen to take federal funding. That means that essentially that Senator Kerry is running a 13-week grace and President Bush is running an eight-week race. I think that we are not going to be on the air in the month of…

HUME: Of August?

CAHILL: Of August. Actually we are going to be traveling around the country and talking about our pledge for the future.

HUME: Would you imagine, therefore, that you might go into the Republican convention with the president having gained a slight edge?

CAHILL: That's entirely possible. This is a very close race. And you know, he has been up slightly at some points. We've been up a lot of the time lately. But I think that what really matters is where we are in October. And I think we're going to be in very strong shape.

HUME: All right. Now, what is it that you think will come out of tonight? Tonight is devoted, in part to pay a tribute to Senator Kennedy

CAHILL: Uh-huh.

HUME: Senator Kennedy, of course, and Senator Kerry have certainly united for the purposes of this campaign. They've not always been close, as you obviously well know. What does a big speech tonight and a big focus on Senator Kennedy tonight do for John Kerry?

CAHILL: I think that John Kerry has no better friend and no greater supporter than Ted Kennedy. And obviously he is someone who has fought for workingmen and women all the course of his life. And is he a leader on providing health care in this country.

More than that tonight, we're going to hear from Barack Obama who is poised, I think to take back the Senate seat in Illinois. A very exciting leader, and this is the first time he will step on to the national stage.

Also, we're going to hear from Ron Reagan Jr. And is going to be speaking, as a Republican, at the Democratic National Convention.

HUME: Mary Beth Cahill, it's a pleasure to have you. Thank you for coming.

CAHILL: Thank you very much.


HUME: Since we taped that interview just a short time ago, a NASA spokesman has said that NASA provides a pool photographer who did take pictures of Kerry on the NASA tour yesterday. However, he said none of those photos was released to the media. Instead, he said, the pictures were given to the Kerry campaign to review before several were posted on the Kennedy Space Center web site.

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