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Senators prevalent on Gore's short list

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 4, 2000

PHILADELPHIA -- Al Gore's list of vice presidential candidates is down to six names, and the four leading prospects are from the Senate: Evan Bayh of Indiana, John Edwards of North Carolina, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.

House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt and New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen round out the short list, a Democratic source familiar with the vice president's thinking said Thursday. Both have said they don't want the job.

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Gore himself said there also was one "wild card" candidate under consideration. The source, however, said that person had little chance of being picked.

Florida's Sen. Bob Graham, long-rumored to be in the running for the post, was not listed among the finalists.

Graham was attending the National Parks Issues Forum at Yellowstone National Park on Thursday and not discussing the vice presidency.

"He's not going to have anything to say until an announcement is made," Graham spokesman Chris Hand said Thursday.

The list was provided to the Associated Press at the tail end of the Republican National Convention, guaranteeing Gore some media attention as Texas Gov. George W. Bush and running mate Dick Cheney launch their general election campaign.

The vice president plans to announce his choice Tuesday, less than a week before the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. He hopes the event cuts into the double-digit lead in polls that Bush built.

Fellow Democrats praised the six finalists as solid -- if unspectacular -- public servants who would measure up favorably against the newly minted GOP ticket. Several said Kerry, 56, a decorated Vietnam veteran who turned against the war, would be the pick with lowest risk.

Kerry could underscore Gore's own service in Vietnam -- in contrast to Bush and Cheney. One downside: Massachusetts, a Democratic bastion, is not a battleground state.

Bayh, 44, is a first-term senator and former governor from a traditionally Republican state. He and Gephardt are the only finalists from the Midwest, where most analysts think the election will be decided.

Edwards, 47, is a trial lawyer who defeated Republican Sen. Lauch Faircloth in 1998. Gore considers him an intellectual and rising political star.

Lieberman, 58, is a second-term senator. An orthodox Jew, he was one of the first Democrats to chastise Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and Gore advisers have said that action would give him standing to help the Democratic ticket shed the weight of Clinton's misdeeds.

Shaheen, 53, is a two-term governor who backed Gore in the New Hampshire primary, which he won. If Gore offered her the job, Shaheen said Thursday, she would reject it.

Some were surprised by some of the people who didn't make Gore's short list, including former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, Sens. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska and Richard Durbin of Illinois, among others.

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