The highly secretive vice presidential selection process does not lend itself to the easy horse race lingo that reporters often use to describe the presidential race. So, while James Johnson, who is heading up Kerry’s VP search, works behind closed doors, the media’s attention has remained on the rumored candidates to whom reporters have access.

Accordingly, the Associated Press published a story based largely on comments made on CBS’s “Face the Nation” last weekend by Gov. Bill Richardson, Sen. Bob Graham, and Gov. Ed Rendell with this lede: “Three top Democrats, all talked about as possible running mates for presumptive presidential nominee John Kerry, on Sunday suggested a lack of interest in being vice president — but none ruled it out.”

The comments provided, all of which reek of political spin, do little to back up the lede or offer the reader any definite answer as to the candidate’s intentions. Graham’s comments, in particular, seem to suggest that he is positioning himself for the number two spot on the ticket rather than shying away from it:

Florida Sen. Bob Graham, who folded his campaign for the Democratic presidential nod last October, deflected a similar question. ”I think that’s going to be up to Senator Kerry, obviously,” Graham said.

Asked whether Kerry could help himself by choosing Graham, the Florida senator responded, “I will do whatever I can to help John Kerry be elected president and deny George Bush another four years in the White House.”

Politicians lusting for the running mate position routinely feign disinterest, of course. That’s something the AP left out of its account. Further, the AP dispatch failed to inform readers of another chapter in the dance of the seven veils, which started off the Sunday morning show. Host Bob Schieffer asked all three men to raise their hands if they were not interested in the vice presidential candidacy. Richardson raised his hand. Graham and Rendell did not.

Thomas Lang

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Thomas Lang was a writer at CJR Daily.