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The Candidates:
• George W. Bush
• John Kerry
• Ralph Nader
• Third Parties
Showdown States:
The Conventions:
• Democratic
• Republican

On July 6, John Kerry selected John Edwards, a senator from North Carolina, as his running mate. The decision ended intense speculation that began soon after the senator from Massachusetts eliminated his serious competition for the Democratic presidential nomination in March 2004. Several people -- from a variety of backgrounds, regions and political viewpoints -- emerged as top contenders before Kerry tapped Edwards, his foremost rival in the party primaries.
Wesley Clark
Arkansas native Wesley Clark has spent most of his adult life -- all but the last four years -- in the military. A 1966 West Point graduate and Rhodes scholar, Clark climbed up the military ranks while serving in Vietnam (where he was wounded in action), Latin America and elsewhere. He led U.S. and allied forces as NATO supreme commander in the 1999 air war in Kosovo, retiring as a four-star general in spring 2000. Clark worked as an investment banker and senior adviser for the Center for Strategic and International Studies before announcing his run for the Democratic presidential nomination -- his first attempt at elected office -- in September 2003. At first considered a front-runner, Clark's candidacy never found its footing and he ended his bid in February 2004.

John Edwards
Born in Seneca, South Carolina, John Edwards moved to North Carolina as a child, where he became the first in his family to attend college. He became a millionaire as a personal injury attorney before launching his first bid for public office -- a U.S. Senate seat from North Carolina. He won that 1998 election, beating Republican incumbent Lauch Faircloth. Considered in 2000 a potential running mate for then-Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore, Edwards began campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination in January 2003 after filing with the Federal Election Commission. Despite lagging in most early polls, he scored strong early showings in Iowa and South Carolina to emerge as Sen. John Kerry's chief rival for the Democratic nomination before ending his bid March 3, 2004. Just more than four months later, Kerry tapped Edwards as his running mate on the Democratic presidential ticket.

Dick Gephardt
A veteran Washington insider, Rep. Dick Gephardt has twice sought -- unsuccessfully -- the Democratic presidential nomination. After serving parts of six years on the St. Louis, Missouri, board of aldermen, Gephardt won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976, representing Missouri's 3rd Congressional District. He remained there for 28 years, serving as the chamber's Democratic leader from 1994 to 2000. Deciding that he would not run for re-election, Gephardt instead sought the party's 2004 presidential nomination. But he halted his campaign after finishing fourth in the January 19, 2004, Iowa caucuses.

Bill Nelson
Florida native Bill Nelson has served alongside John Kerry in the U.S. Senate since being elected in 2000. A U.S. Army veteran of the late 1960s, Nelson made his first foray into elected office in 1973 as a Florida state legislator. He earned a trip to Capitol Hill six years later as a U.S. representative before leaving office in 1991. During his congressional stint, he trained to become an astronaut, eventually flying on a six-day mission in 1986. Nelson was Florida's treasurer -- a position that also included responsibilities as the state insurance commissioner and fire marshal -- from 1994 to 2000, when he again left the Sunshine State for Washington.

Bill Richardson
Initially seen as a contender for the vice presidential spot, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson took himself out of contention on July 2, 2004, saying he wanted to keep his promise to serve a full, four-year term as governor. With experience as a governor, congressman, Cabinet secretary and ambassador, Richardson boasts a wealth of experience in several of the 2004 presidential campaign's top issues. Born in California and reared partly in Mexico City, he served as a U.S. congressman from New Mexico beginning in 1983 before being named, in 1997, as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. A year later, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved his appointment as Energy Secretary. In 2002, New Mexico voters chose Richardson, in a landslide, as their governor, making him the nation's only Hispanic state chief executive.

Tom Vilsack
Adopted a year after his birth in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Tom Vilsack spent his childhood in the Northeast, attending college and law school in upstate New York. He moved to Iowa, home of his wife Christie, in the mid-1970s to practice law and, eventually, pursue politics. Vilsack served as mayor of his new hometown, Mount Pleasant, for five years, then spent six years in the Iowa Senate. In 1998, he became the state's first Democratic governor in three decades. Re-elected in 2002, Vilsack has vowed not to seek a third term.


Evan Bayh
At 48 years old, Evan Bayh has spent all but four years of his post-graduate life in elected office -- a testament to his political ambition and his popularity in the Hoosier State. In 1986, Bayh became Indiana's secretary of state at age 30. Three years later, he began the first of his two four-year terms as Indiana's governor. Bayh then headed to Washington, where he is near wrapping up his first six-year term as Indiana's junior U.S. senator. He is chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, a national group of the party's more politically moderate elected officials and community leaders.

Joseph Biden
Sen. Joseph Biden announced in August 2003 that he would not run for president, but his international affairs credentials could make him a vice-presidential pick. He ran for the White House in 1988, but dropped out after rival Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis distributed a videotape that showed Biden lifted parts of his speeches from remarks made by British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock. The six-term U.S. senator is currently the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Biden told CNN on July 5, 2004, that he was ruling himself out of contention for the vice presidential nomination.

John Breaux
A moderate Democrat, John Breaux is one of several retiring Southern senators -- among them, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and Sen. Bob Graham of Florida -- considered a possible running mate for presumptive presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry in 2004. At the age of 28, the lifelong Louisianan and then-congressional staffer became, at the time, the U.S. House of Representatives' youngest member with his 1972 election. Fourteen years later, Breaux moved to the Senate, sweeping three elections. The Bush administration has praised Breaux's work on tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Phil Bredesen
Raised in upstate New York, Phil Bredesen and his wife moved to Nashville in the mid-1970s, where he founded a business that became HealthAmerica Corp. He sold the business in 1986 and entered the political arena in 1991, when he was elected mayor of Nashville. He was re-elected to a second term in 1995 after his unsuccessful 1994 bid for governor, when he lost to Republican Don Sundquist. But in 2002, Bredesen defeated four-term Rep. Van Hilleary to replace Sundquist, who was barred from running due to term limits and was highly unpopular due to his failed plan to implement a state income tax.

Tom Brokaw
For two decades, Tom Brokaw has become a part of millions' daily lives as America's most trusted news anchor, according to a TV Guide poll. A March 2004 Wall Street Journal column suggested that John Kerry could boost his own presidential chances by choosing the South Dakota native as his running mate. Set to retire as anchor of "NBC Nightly News" in December 2004, Brokaw has denied any interest in elected office, including the vice presidency, and has even refused to declare his political affiliation.

Max Cleland
Aside from Sen. Ted Kennedy, Max Cleland is perhaps Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's most passionate, frequent supporter on the campaign trail of any current or former elected official and possible vice-presidential pick. Like Kerry, Cleland served in the Vietnam War, losing both legs and an arm in combat before embarking on a political career. He served as Georgia's secretary of state for 13 years before winning a 1996 election to replace Sam Nunn in the U.S. Senate. But Cleland lost his re-election bid six years later to Rep. Saxby Chambliss, who portrayed the veteran as weak on homeland security and defense matters.

Bill Clinton
Few vice-presidential possibilities boast the accomplished resume -- or political baggage -- of former President Bill Clinton. Clinton studied at Georgetown, Yale and Oxford (as a Rhodes scholar) before returning to his home state of Arkansas. He taught at the University of Arkansas' law school for three years before, at 30, being elected the state's attorney general. Clinton later served six terms as Arkansas' governor (he won in 1978, lost a 1980 race, then was re-elected two years later), before defeating incumbent George H.W. Bush to become U.S. president, starting in January 1993. While federal law prohibits a person from seeking a third presidential term, the Constitution does not specify whether or not a former commander in chief can become vice president.

Hillary Clinton
First, she ruled out a 2004 presidential run and, in recent months, she has said she would turn down any offer to become Sen. John Kerry's running mate. But her status as one of the country's most renowned, popular (and polarizing) Democrats has fueled speculation that she could be Kerry's vice-presidential pick. Rodham Clinton grew up in Illinois, attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts, and earned her law degree at Yale University, where she met her future husband, former President Bill Clinton. An accomplished attorney, she had a hands-on role in her husbands' administrations as Arkansas governor and U.S. president. In 2000, she became the only first lady ever elected to a major office while in the White House, when she won a U.S. Senate seat in New York.

James Clyburn
Democratic candidates actively sought out Rep. James Clyburn during primary season, hoping his endorsement would equate to Southern and African-American support for their campaigns. Now the veteran South Carolina legislator is in contention to become the first black candidate on a major party ticket. Born in Sumter, Clyburn worked as an educator and counselor before joining Gov. John West's staff in 1971. Three years later, he became the state's human affairs commissioner, a post he held until being elected to Congress in 1992. Clyburn first backed House colleague Rep. Dick Gephardt in the 2004 presidential race, then threw his support behind John Kerry after the Missouri congressman dropped out.

Howard Dean
Howard Dean worked on Wall Street before changing careers and becoming a medical doctor in 1978. He moved from New York City to Vermont, where he opened an internal medicine practice with his wife, Judith Steinberg. Dean entered politics in Vermont, serving in the state legislature and as lieutenant governor before assuming the state's top position in 1991, after the sudden death of Gov. Richard Snelling. Elected to five two-year terms, in spring 2002 Dean became the first Democrat to enter the 2004 presidential race. He emerged as a front-runner in late summer 2003, but his campaign never recovered from a third-place finish in the January 19, 2004, Iowa caucuses. He halted his presidential bid one month later.

Jim Doyle
In a sense, Jim Doyle was born into public service. His father James ran for governor and later became a federal judge while his mother Ruth was the fourth member of her family elected to the state assembly, and both were founding members of Wisconsin's modern Democratic party. Doyle himself served in the Peace Corps after graduating college, then worked for three years on a Navajo Indian reservation after finishing law school. He served six years as a district attorney and another 12 as Wisconsin's attorney general before being elected the Badger State's governor in 2002.

Russ Feingold
Sen. Russ Feingold's name has been all over the 2004 presidential race, largely because of the campaign finance reform legislation he cosponsored with Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Like President Bill Clinton and former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark, the Wisconsin legislator attended Oxford University on a prestigious Rhodes scholarship. He spent 10 years in Wisconsin's state senate before moving onto the U.S. Senate. Feingold is running for a third straight term in 2004.

Dianne Feinstein
Dianne Feinstein was one of John Kerry's earliest and most vocal supporters during the Democratic primaries, endorsing her Senate colleague in September 2003. She has long been a political pioneer, as San Francisco's first female mayor (between 1978 and 1988) and the first female U.S. senator to represent the Golden State. Feinstein has served alongside Kerry on Capitol Hill for the last 12 years.

Bob Graham
A politician for the past 37 years, a vice presidency offer would be Sen. Bob Graham's chance to remain in public office, given his decision not to seek a fourth term in the U.S. Senate. Graham served in the Florida House and Senate before being elected as the Sunshine State's governor in 1979. From Tallahassee, he moved straight to Washington after winning his Senate seat. There, he established himself as a moderate Democrat and leader in international affairs and intelligence matters. Graham sought his party's 2004 presidential nomination, but dropped out more than three months before the first contest.

Bob Kerrey
Bob Kerrey has recently grabbed headlines for his comments and questions as a member of the commission investigating the September 11 terrorist attacks. While he has not held elected office since January 2001, the Nebraska native is no stranger to Washington, even running for president in 1992. After graduating college, Kerrey spent three years in Vietnam as a member of an elite Navy SEAL unit, earning a Congressional Medal of Honor after having his lower right leg amputated following a grenade blast. He started a successful chain of health clubs and restaurants before becoming Nebraska's governor for four years, beginning in 1983. Kerrey served as a U.S. senator between 1989 and 2001, when he decided not to seek re-election.

Mary Landrieu
Politics has dominated Mary Landrieu's life. Her father, Moon Landrieu, served as New Orleans' mayor and U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development. At age 23, Mary entered the political fray, becoming the youngest woman ever elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives. Eight years later, she secured a spot as the state's treasurer before making a successful run at the U.S. Senate. A moderate, Landrieu has focused on education, defense and family issues in Washington, appearing with her colleague Sen. John Breaux but no other top Democrats while campaigning for re-election in 2002.

Joe Lieberman
Joe Lieberman grew up in southwest Connecticut as the son of two first-generation Jewish Americans. In 1960, he became the first member of his family to attend college and, four years later, law school at Yale. After 10 years as a Connecticut state senator, Lieberman ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980 -- and lost. He won an election to become the state's attorney general two years later and, in 1988, won another to become a U.S. senator. Al Gore, the Democrats' 2000 presidential nominee, selected Lieberman as his running mate. After losing that election, Lieberman returned to Washington and then launched his own presidential bid but, despite his widely respected character and name recognition, the campaign never gained its footing and he dropped out February 3, 2004.

Blanche Lincoln
Hillary Rodham Clinton isn't the only woman with Arkansas roots being mentioned as John Kerry's possible running mate. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, at 43, is not only one of the youngest vice-presidential contenders, but the youngest woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate. Lincoln comes from a seventh-generation Arkansas farm family, according to her official biography, and was a founding member of the socially moderate, fiscally conservative "Blue Dog" coalition.

Gary Locke
The nation's first Chinese-American governor, Locke presides in the potential swing state of Washington. The Democratic Party chose Locke, then the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, to deliver its formal rebuttal to President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address. He made his remarks amid a massive budget deficit and high unemployment in Washington, and with Republicans criticizing his leadership skills. Locke has said he will not seek re-election when his second term ends in 2005, but he remains busy, including hosting this summer's National Governors Association conference, visiting China and campaigning with presidential nominee John Kerry and other top Democrats.

John McCain
In 21 years on Capitol Hill, the last 17 in the Senate, John McCain has established a reputation as a tough, independent legislator. Before coming to Washington, McCain spent 27 years in the U.S. Navy, attending the Naval Academy and flying jet aircraft before his plane was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967. After enduring six years as a prisoner of war, McCain returned home and remained in the military until 1981. He then launched his political career in Arizona, serving two terms as a U.S. representative before moving onto the Senate in 1987. McCain lost a hard-fought battle to George W. Bush for the GOP's 2000 presidential nomination, returning to Washington as an independent legislator not averse to criticizing Democrats and Republicans alike. Amid rumors that Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry will select him as his running mate, McCain has said firmly that he would not accept a vice-presidential nod, in either party.

Janet Napolitano
Like many Arizonans, Gov. Janet Napolitano is a transplant, in her case coming to the Grand Canyon State from New York by way of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 2002, she ended 12 years of GOP control of the governorship in the Grand Canyon State, where eight of the 10 current Congressmen are Republicans. Napolitano got her big break in 1993, when President Bill Clinton appointed her U.S. Attorney for Arizona. She served one term as Arizona's attorney general, during which she had a mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer, before succeeding Gov. Jane Hull. As governor, Napolitano has tackled a billion-dollar budget deficit, prescription drug costs, severe wildfires and education issues.

Sam Nunn
Having decided not to seek re-election for his U.S. Senate seat in 1996, Sam Nunn has been away from Capitol Hill for nearly eight years. But the lifelong Georgian, who served four full terms in the Senate, has remained active, particularly in international affairs. Besides serving on the boards of several major corporations, including Coca-Cola, Dell and General Electric, Nunn teaches at his namesake school of international affairs (part of the Georgia Institute of Technology) and chairs the board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Ed Rendell
Edward G. Rendell has been a fixture of Pennsylvania politics for decades. A leader at Philadelphia's District Attorney office for 18 years, Rendell became the city's mayor in 1992. Dubbed "America's Mayor" by 2000 Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore, Rendell chaired the Democratic National Committee in 1999 and 2000. Two years later, he became the first Philadelphian since 1914 to win the Keystone State's governorship.

Ann Richards
Ann Richards jumped into the national spotlight in 1988, when the then-Texas treasurer delivered a spirited keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. Two years later, Texas voters elected the former junior high school teacher as governor. But Richards lasted only one term, losing to George W. Bush -- now U.S. president -- in a 1994 election. She remains active in her 70s, working for a consulting agency and speaking out on political matters, including endorsing Howard Dean in the 2004 Democratic primaries.

Jay Rockefeller
John Davidson Rockefeller IV was born in New York City into the wealthy, well-known Rockefeller family. After graduating from the prestigious prep school Phillips Academy and then Harvard University, Rockefeller spent five years volunteering with the Peace Corps and VISTA, during which he moved to West Virginia. He quickly established roots in the Mountain State, winning a seat in the state legislature two years after moving there. By 1968, he was West Virginia's secretary of state and, after a stint as president of West Virginia Wesleyan College, he served two terms as governor between 1977 and 1985. Rockefeller then headed to the U.S. Senate, where he has become a leading Democratic voice on intelligence and other matters.

Kathleen Sebelius
As governor of Kansas and daughter of a former Ohio governor, Kathleen Sebelius has key political capital in two swing states in the 2004 general election. Born into a political family -- her father, John Gilligan, served in Columbus as well as Washington, as a U.S. representative -- she moved to Kansas after her 1974 wedding to attorney Gary Sebelius. She served seven years in the Kansas Legislature and another eight as the state insurance commissioner before winning a fall 2002 election to become the Sunflower State's governor.

Debbie Stabenow
Four years ago, veteran Michigan politician Debbie Stabenow scored a huge Democratic win by narrowly beating Republican incumbent Sen. Spencer Abraham. The vote, despite Abraham's major fund-raising advantage, heightened Stabenow's national prominence. Stabenow won her first election -- to the Ingham County (Michigan) Board of Commissioners -- while in graduate school at Michigan State. She later won seats in the Michigan state House and Senate. She represented Michigan's 8th Congressional District before winning the Senate seat.

Mark Warner
In November 2001, Mark Warner ended the Republicans' eight-year grip on the Virginia statehouse -- and won his first election. The gubernatorial victory came five years after the self-made millionaire fell short in his first political bid, losing a U.S. Senate race to Republican incumbent Sen. John Warner. Mark Warner caught the political bug while attending college in Washington, D.C., working as a staffer on Capitol Hill and, later, as a fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee. He went on to make millions investing in new technologies, including cellular phones, in the 1980s. In office for just more than two years, he is already vice chair of the National Governors Association and chairman of the Southern Governors' Association.

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