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Next: Kerry's key Cabinet choices

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With John Kerry on the verge of officially winning the Democratic nomination, it's time for a next step in the electoral process: examining candidates for spots in his Cabinet.

If you want to get technical, it's a touch premature to measure the drapes in Don Rumsfeld's office, given that Kerry hasn't been elected yet. President Bush and the GOP will do their best to prevent reporters from ever having to utter the phrase "Kerry transition team" on air.

But picking through advisers and matching them up with possible Cabinet roles reveals a lot about candidates themselves. A US administration is a joint effort, after all. Undecided voters might find it easier to make up their minds if they consider what personalities a challenger would install in office for the next four years.

A relative unknown to much of the voting public, Mr. Kerry might particularly benefit from helping this process along.

"Kerry potentially could help define himself by naming people to a couple of key positions," says Bruce Bartlett, a senior analyst for the National Center for Policy Analysis in Washington.

That doesn't mean the Kerry campaign would find lining up a shadow cabinet to be easy. As the carnival of this year's convention makes clear, the Democratic party remains a highly diverse organization. The factions may be united behind their ticket, but if it wins they'll push hard for seats at the nation's table of power.

Kerry would have to try to satisfy both African-Americans ("Look, there's Jesse Jackson coming out of a Fleet Center men's room!") and old-line Humphrey liberals (former VP and Minnesota Sen. Walter Mondale has been a big hit with delegates on the floor).

Veterans now have their own Democratic caucus, which was rallied this week by wild-man consultant and former Marine James Carville. Then there are centrist Clintonites, a number of whom sobbed throughout the Hillary and Bill speeches on Monday night.

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