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Nomination Battle Far from Over, say Democratic Hopefuls - 2004-02-08


Democratic presidential hopefuls competing with the front-runner, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, insist the race for their party's nomination is far from over. North Carolina Senator John Edwards and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean took to the national airwaves one day after Senator Kerry won two more contests: caucuses in Michigan and Washington State.

For John Kerry, the news keeps getting better and better in his quest for the Democratic party's presidential nomination. Through Saturday, the Massachusetts senator had won nine of 11 primary and caucus contests.

The only two states he failed to carry were South Carolina and Oklahoma, both in the southern region of the United States. But even the South may prove kinder to Mr. Kerry in coming days. Public opinion polls show the senator competitive in primary elections to be held Tuesday in Virginia and Tennessee.

A Kerry victory in either or both of those states would be bitter news for North Carolina Senator John Edwards, who is counting on his southern roots to earn him a sizeable chunk of the 2,162 delegates needed to win the presidential nomination. Speaking on the U.S. television program Fox News Sunday, Mr. Edwards said he is not daunted by what appears to be a growing momentum for Senator Kerry. "Tuesday we have Tennessee and Virginia, and then we move on to Wisconsin. In fact, I believe something like 75 percent of the delegates are left to be selected after Wisconsin. I view this very much as a long-term process, and we are in this for the long-term," he said.

Saturday, Senator Edwards finished in third place in Michigan and in fourth place in Washington State.

Another competitor, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, is also sounding upbeat, despite having failed to win a single primary or caucus contest so far. Speaking on CBS' Face the Nation, Mr. Dean said his second place finishes in both Michigan and Washington State are evidence that his one-time front-running campaign is coming back to life. "Our second place finishes are stronger than any we have had since New Hampshire. We are starting to come back. With 15-percent of the delegates selected so far, I question whether Democrats really want to chose somebody that they do not know that much about," he said.

Through Saturday, John Kerry led Democratic presidential hopefuls with 409 delegates, more than twice as many as his nearest competitor, Howard Dean, who had 174. The eventual Democratic nominee will face George Bush in the November presidential election.

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