Forget the July weather. We see a snowball taking shape.

Just when we thought it was safe to go back into the news cycle again, here comes Ray Hernandez raising the Jaws of the 2004 campaign season: Another Veepstakes!

Hernandez reports today that former New York Senator Alfonse D’Amato has called on President Bush to dump Dick Cheney and find himself another running mate, preferably Secretary of State Colin Powell or Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Proving that nobody loves a vacuum, especially journalists, the New York Post’s Kenneth Lovett also reported D’Amato’s suggestion, first made Tuesday night on NY1, New York City’s all-news cable television station. The Associated Press circulated its own take on the comments. Newsday columnist Dennis Duggan ran with the idea, interviewing former veep candidate Geraldine Ferraro, who says the Republicans are in a “panic” mode over John Kerry’s choice of John Edwards to go against the Bush/Cheney team.

Yesterday, during an appearance on Fox News Radio’s Tony Snow Show, McCain was asked about his interest in the number two job. None, McCain responded. The Bush administration also has nixed the idea. “Our campaign is called Bush-Cheney ‘04 for a reason,” Bush campaign manager Kevin Madden told the Post.

Meantime, Maureen Dowd, the New York Times’ maven of the arch one-liner, has a different view of the whole thing. Dowd says the question isn’t who’ll be the running mate, but who is the candidate. Responding to Bush’s assertion yesterday that the difference between Cheney and Edwards is that “Dick Cheney can be president,” Dowd dryly quips:

“Indeed, he already is.”

Susan Q. Stranahan

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Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.