Kerry spends Fourth campaigning with Iowa governor

He, Vilsack dodge queries on pick for running mate

The Nation

July 05, 2004|By John McCormick | John McCormick,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

INDEPENDENCE, Iowa - In what felt like an awkward daylong dance, Sen. John Kerry and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack appeared to go out of their way to avoid being seen next to each other yesterday, even as they campaigned together in northeast Iowa.

At the start of a week when it is suspected that Kerry might announce his running mate, both men dodged questions about what they know about the selection process, a so-far mostly secretive search in which Vilsack is an apparent finalist.

"Happy Fourth of July. You want some candy?" the Iowa governor responded to reporters when asked during a parade in Cascade how he felt about this week.

A few hours later, and after a morning in which Kerry confronted questions about abortion after attending Mass, the two men took to the Field of Dreams movie location in Dyersville, Iowa, where they played baseball with children.

Kerry seemed to thoroughly enjoy his time on the famous field, even re-enacting a scene from the movie by walking into the cornfield beyond the outfield, hiding with a group of children below the stalks and re-emerging onto the field.

Kerry campaign officials dismissed any suggestion that the two men, who rode together on Kerry's campaign bus, were avoiding too many side-by-side appearances.

"I don't think anyone can make anything out of anything at this point," said Kerry spokeswoman Allison Dobson. "There's nothing to say."

Besides Vilsack, other names being prominently mentioned include Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and Sen. Bob Graham of Florida.

Vilsack and Kerry have a close relationship. The governor's wife, Christie, endorsed Kerry shortly before the Iowa caucuses, support viewed as critical in his come-from-behind victory in January.

Still, Kerry wasn't overly verbose when he described his relationship with the Vilsacks yesterday, the final day of his three-day bus tour through Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.

"I'm grateful to call them my friends and mainstays in this campaign for the presidency," Kerry told about 250 people gathered here for a holiday barbecue.

As Kerry spoke, Vilsack sat in the front row, never joining the Massachusetts Democrat on the stage.

On Friday, Kerry said he is planning to announce his running mate via e-mail to members of his campaign Web site.

After watching fireworks yesterday evening in Cedar Rapids, Kerry went to his wife's suburban Pittsburgh farm, where he was expected to hold a barbecue for supporters this afternoon.

Matt Paul, a Vilsack spokesman, said the governor plans a vacation through Friday, but he declined to say where.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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