Kerry Nearing Pick for Ticket
Edwards, a first-term senator, would be a popular choice among many rank-and-file Democrats, who were impressed with the unsuccessful campaign he ran for the party's nomination.
Gephardt, the former House Democratic leader, was in Washington on Monday and was captured on camera with his wife, Jane, as they walked their dog, but he offered no hints about whether he knew anything about his chances. Gephardt and Kerry have a solid relationship, and he would bring a wealth of experience to the vice presidency.
Vilsack campaigned Sunday with Kerry in Iowa and was scheduled to leave Monday for a family vacation outside Iowa, according to his staff. Democrats close to Vilsack said Monday they had received no hint about his chances.
At the afternoon picnic, Kerry and his supporters ate hamburgers, hot dogs and kielbasa spiced with an array of Heinz products. The conversation focused almost exclusively on the vice presidency.
"Oh sure, it's on my mind -- everybody's trying to figure out what's what," said Rep. Joseph M. Hoeffel III (D-Pa), who is running for the Senate against Republican Arlen Specter, at Kerry's party. "But the truth is, I don't think he needs a blockbuster pick to unify the party and excite people. I don't think it'll be a surprise."
Hoeffel said that he had no special knowledge of the decision process but that his bet was Vilsack.
Others reportedly on Kerry's short list also had their camps, as reporters sequestered in a bullpen on the side of the lawn beckoned guests over and asked for their thoughts.
"There's a lot of chatter. I think it's gotta be Gephardt," said John A. Brooks, treasurer of the Greater Pennsylvania Regional Council of Carpenters. "But I think he should give Edwards some thought, too. Most people would be satisfied with either."
After he returned in the wee hours on Monday morning from a three-day bus swing through the Midwest, Kerry joined the party just before 3 p.m. with his wife, who is heiress to the ketchup fortune.
The couple spent the early part of the day posing for photographs for Good Housekeeping and Redbook magazines, and being interviewed by the latter.
The party had a more formal feel than the weekend stops in rural towns in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Guests here were greeted by a six-piece brass ensemble and a trailer full of Iron City beer to wash down the barbecue fare.
After shaking hands and greeting guests for an hour, Kerry delivered a truncated version of his stump speech, telling supporters -- including a host of elected officials, as well as actor Ed Begley Jr. and former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris -- that "the results of this election are more in your hands than in Teresa's and mine."
Balz reported from Washington. Staff writer John Wagner contributed to this report.
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