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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 July, 2004, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
Campaign column: Future stars

By Tom Carver
BBC correspondent in Boston

John Kerry
The talk may be of his cabinet, but Kerry still has to win first
Walking the floor of a party convention, it's hard to resist wondering whether there is a future president nearby.

Is it that earnest young Congressional staffer I met who had recently returned from the London School of Economics?

Or the female delegate from Washington State who saw where Mr Kerry was heading long before the rest of her party?

Or the Hollywood star Ben Affleck, who seems to have a severe dose of political addiction?

Picking the stars of the future is a mug's game, and certainly more of an art than a science, but fun nonetheless.


In the corridors behind the convention hall, there has been as much chatter about who will be in power as how to get into power - a sign that Democrats are pretty confident of winning.

Some of the names to watch for a future Kerry cabinet include:

  • Secretary of State:

    Either Richard Holbrooke or Senator Joe Biden. Both are interested. My money would be on Mr Biden because he is closer to John Kerry and Mr Holbrooke sometimes has difficulty being a team player.

    Some have even suggested Bill Clinton, but more in hope than expectation.

  • Secretary of Defence:

    Wes Clark would love the job, but he made a number of enemies during his career in the military who would resist the nomination.

    John McCain or Carl Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, are also possibilities.

  • National Security Adviser:

    It is almost certain to be Rand Beers, John Kerry's main adviser on foreign policy issues.

  • Homeland Security tsar:

    Gary Hart, the one-time presidential hopeful, is a strong contender, given that he predicted many of the 9/11 problems in a prescient report called the Hart-Rudman Report.

    Another possibility is Dick Gephardt, John Kerry's former rival for the nomination.

Then there are the other people to watch during a Kerry Administration.

As first lady, Teresa Heinz Kerry would make a lot of news with her forthright views. Hillary Clinton remains the only true rock star of the Democratic Party. Mark Warner, the governor of Virginia, is a rising star and will be looking for a job as he is only allowed to serve one term as governor.

Small hitch

What about the next generation?

Barack Obama
Barack Obama: Rising star
There's no question that the star of the show was Barack Obama, a Kenyan-American, who is campaigning to become a senator from Illinois.

In the keynote address to the convention - an honour reserved for those seen as future leaders of the party - he won over the party faithful with his life story and his vision.

Jerry Springer, the famous talk-show host, is planning to run for governor of Ohio in 2006.

Assuming he manages to make the transition from reality TV to serious politics - and he used to be mayor of Cincinnati - he could be the Democrats' answer to Arnie Schwarzenegger.

Stephanie Herseth: a thirtysomething from South Dakota in her first congressional race. She's bright and personable, and seen as a future star if she can win over the conservative farmers of South Dakota, since she will have what it takes to be able to reach out to the centre ground.

Who knows?

It's all a guess.

And John Kerry has to win the presidency first, which is still far from certain. Whatever the Democrats are saying in the corridors.

Previous campaign columns:

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