The American Staff

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Second Fiddles

Almost before John Kerry had sealed up the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, he was being advised to name his vice president -- now. Every Democrat in Washington seemed to think that an accelerated selection process was essential to Kerry's success; even Nancy Pelosi said that it was "important to have a nominee by May 1."

But somehow Kerry held out, and now -- with less than a month before the Democratic national convention begins on July 26 -- the chatter over whom he will choose is louder than ever. Although a long-shot dark horse could come out of nowhere and/or left field to defy all expectations (and spur a frenzy of clichés), the list of serious contestants has shrunk considerably. With the announcement imminent, how do the likely candidates stack up?

Purple People Watch

Arizona. Senator John McCain's inevitable return to the Republican fold may have seriously undercut John Kerry's attempts to pick up his home state's 10 electoral votes. While the none-too-secret vice-presidential courtship of McCain boosted Kerry's numbers in April and May, the eventual reunion of George W. Bush with his most prominent Republican critic has dramatically reversed the incumbent's downward trend. This weekend's KAET-TV/Arizona State University poll -- conducted before the handover in Iraq -- depicted a substantial 12-point gap between the two candidates.

Purple People Watch

Colorado. The Colorado GOP establishment settled long ago on beer heir Pete Coors as their favored nominee for this fall's tight Senate race, but the religious right is making some trouble for him in the primary. The concern is less about issues (Coors hews to the conservative orthodoxy on gay rights, abortion, guns, and other hot-button issues) than about the propriety of his company's racy advertisements featuring the Coors Light Twins, Diane and Elaine Klimaszewski. The subtext, however, seems to be concerns about Coors Brewing Company's efforts over the years to market itself to the gay and lesbian community. As primary rival Bob Schaffer put it, Coors is "one of the most gay-friendly companies in the nation," a potentially deadly liability among dogmatic primary voters.

Big Foot Bubba

How much damage will Bill Clinton's book do to John Kerry's campaign? Virtually zero, for two reasons:

Devil in the Details

Nader's New Raiders

When opposites attract, it's not always a case of innocent bliss. During the month of April, donations to Ralph Nader's presidential campaign from contributors who have historically given to Republican candidates or the Republican Party spiked dramatically to 19 percent -- that's $18,000 -- according to a database search on OpenSecrects.org, a nonprofit Web site that tracks money in politics.

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