2004 Election: Inside The War Rooms

Bush and Kerry weren't only battling each other. In the hunt for every last vote, each man had to rediscover his own instincts as well. TIME takes you behind the scenes

KERRY

Operation Gutsball

Everyone looked perfectly serene in the private cabin of the Boeing 757 ferrying the Democratic nominee and his newly named running mate to their first campaign rally together on July 7. The Veep hunt had proceeded just the way Kerry wanted it: smoothly, surefootedly and secretly, right up to the moment when John Edwards' selection was announced. A beaming Kerry was popping in and out of the cabin. Edwards was catching a nap, his ever present Diet Coke on the tray of the armrest next to him; his wife Elizabeth was reading. But across the aisle, campaign manager...

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