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Election 2000: Senior Bush Aides Confirm Danforth, Cheney as Serious Contenders for V.P.

Aired July 24, 2000 - 1:01 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Enjoy the suspense while you can. We expect to find out tomorrow, maybe even sooner, whose name will follow Bush on all those posters, bumper stickers, TV spots, and ballots. The Republican presidential nominee-to-be is on the verge of a decision on a running mate, and the smart money says there are two leading contenders.

Of those, the favorite is believed to be Dick Cheney, who served as defense secretary under President Bush and who spent the past several weeks screening V.P. candidates for Governor Bush.

The other strong possibility, sources say, is former Missouri Senator John Danforth. Danforth was in the news just days ago when the panel he headed released its report on the Branch Davidian inferno of 1993.

And how does the smart money know all this? It reads the clues, it listens to sources, and often it's dead wrong.

CNN's Jonathan Karl joins us now from Austin to tell us what he's hearing this afternoon -- Jonathan.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Senior Bush aides have said that they have confirmed, in fact, that John Danforth and Dick Cheney are both under serious consideration, or have been, as Bush has been mulling over his decision here. But they have also been emphatic in saying, don't rule out a surprise, because they, themselves, do not know what Bush's thinking is at this point.

Bush had told reporters, on Friday, that he would make up his mind over the weekend. If, in fact, he has made up his mind, those senior Bush aides are saying that they don't even know, that he has told nobody about that,

Now, Bush has been keeping his own counsel on this. The reasons why those names, John Danforth and Dick Cheney, have emerged as the center of speculation is because, as far as former Missouri Senator John Danforth, Bush met with him on Tuesday in Chicago, met him -- Dick Cheney also at that meeting, we were told, the subject of the vice presidency was why they were meeting.

Now, also, Dick Cheney had told business associates at the Halliburton Corporation, of which he is CEO, he has told them recent that he may have to step down at that post because there is a very strong possibility that Cheney, himself, may be the choice as Bush's running mate.

Now, no decision has been made, or no decision has been announced. We are told that the earliest possible that we would hear that announcement is tomorrow. Bush has been on his ranch all day, in fact all weekend, except when he went to Georgia to go to the funeral of Senator Paul Coverdell.

But Bush is expected back here in Austin shortly. We are told, though, that he will not make an announcement today, but the earliest possible for that announcement would be tomorrow.

Back to you.

PHILLIPS: Jonathan Karl, thank you.

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