This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys," July 17, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: The dump-Cheney chatter is the topic of this week's trail dust. Despite several denials to the contrary, Washington is abuzz with speculation that President Bush (search) might dump Dick Cheney from the Republican ticket. The story even made the front page of The New York Times, surprise, surprise. Here's Cheney Wednesday.


DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's made it very clear that he wants me to run again. The way I got here in the first place was, he persuaded me four years ago that I was the man he wanted in that post, not just as a candidate but as somebody that be a part of the governing team. And he's been very clear he doesn't want to break up the team.


BARNES: He has been very clear about that. Now, you know, this is entirely a media concoction, this whole Cheney business.

And, and it's true, of course you agree. There's not a shred of evidence that anyone that Bush or anyone close to Bush wants to dump Cheney from the ticket. So why is this getting in the paper? Because, or why is it in the media? Because reporters don't like Cheney much because he's too conservative, and also they know he doesn't give them the time of day. He doesn't think much of them.

So silly stories like The New York Times one get in the paper.

Now, I look forward to the Cheney-Edwards vice presidential debate, which I think will be better than the three Kerry-Bush debates.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: And who will win?

BARNES: Well, look, Edwards is more telegenic and articulate. On the other hand, Cheney is smarter and shrewder. So I'd say advantage Cheney.

KONDRACKE: Well, I don't know about that.

BARNES: You asked.

KONDRACKE: Well, I did ask, but, but I, but I'm saying that, look, Edwards is a, is a very slick trial lawyer...

BARNES: Of course.

KONDRACKE: ... and he's, and he's young and charismatic, and now Cheney does have the virtue of being, having gravitas, a lot more gravitas.

BARNES: Yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: But, he's also, he's also duller. And but, the, the important debate is going to be the presidential debate ...where we, we see whether John Kerry can, you know, or George Bush can match what, what...

BARNES: Cheney.

KONDRACKE: ... John Kerry.

BARNES: Cheney does have the backing from the guy now who a lot of these reporters say might have replaced him on the ticket with Bush, John McCain, you know, Friday, in Michigan, they hugged. Three times McCain said Cheney is indispensable.

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, you know, the ...

BARNES: So much for the dump-Cheney business.

KONDRACKE: ... well, and, and furthermore, I mean, look, Bush is never going to jump dump Cheney...

BARNES: Of course.

KONDRACKE: ... he's, they're, he's loyal, he trusts Cheney...he listens, he listens to Cheney ... what's more, if you look at the polls, and I know you, depend on me for polls, Cheney's favorables are in the mid-40s, generally speaking, the low 20s if you believe The New York Times. But that 46 number of, in the Gallup poll, which is the important thing to the White House, has stayed steady since, since February, and ... moreover, when asked in a recent Gallup poll whether Bush should drop Cheney from the ticket, a whopping 59 percent said no.

So forget about it.

BARNES: All right, all right.

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

Pollster John Zogby has a new batch. In the first group of states, President Bush loses Iowa, very narrowly, to Kerry in this latest poll. Kerry has opened up a nearly 7-point lead in Florida, and has leads in Michigan and Minnesota.

Kerry leads in this batch of states as well, though his lead in Missouri is within the margin of error.

And in this final group, President Bush has opened up a lead of 8 points in West Virginia, but Kerry has built up his leads in Wisconsin and Washington. And he still leads in Pennsylvania, but he's lost some ground since the last Zogby poll.



BARNES: ... here's how our Electoral Scoreboard shakes out. Kerry regains the lead with 328 electoral votes to Bush's measly 210. In early July, Bush was leading 316 to 222.

KONDRACKE: Are you worried?

BARNES: About what?

KONDRACKE: About Bush.

BARNES: We'll have an election.

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