Massachusetts Senator John Kerry seeks to extend his lead in the battle for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination as three western states choose nominating delegates. But as the Democratic race continues, President Bush is stepping up his re-election effort.
Democratic voters in Utah, Idaho, and Hawaii are selecting delegates. But the two major Democratic candidates, Senator Kerry and North Carolina Senator John Edwards, are looking ahead to next Tuesday when 10 states will hold primaries or caucuses that could largely determine who the Democratic nominee will be.
Senator Kerry has a huge lead in the delegate count and Senator Edwards faces the daunting task of having to win more than 60 percent of the remaining delegates in order to win the nomination.
Meanwhile, both Democratic contenders are urging voters to ignore the independent candidacy of consumer advocate Ralph Nader. Some Democrats blame him for Al Gore's narrow defeat in 2000.
Senator Kerry says those drawn to Mr. Nader should take a look at his campaign. "I think my candidacy will speak to and appeal to many of the people who were attracted in the year 2000 to Ralph Nader," he said.
Senator Edwards is also trying to win over Nader supporters and those who backed former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who withdrew from the Democratic race last week.
Senator Edwards is focussing on his battle with Senator Kerry and away from the growing perception among many voters that the November election will be a race between Senator Kerry and President Bush.
"This campaign and this election is not about George Bush's past, John Kerry's past or John Edwards' past," he said. "This is about the future of the American people."
After weeks of being attacked by the Democrats running for the White House, President Bush is starting to fire back. At a fundraising speech in Washington, the president indirectly criticized Senator Kerry for shifting positions on free trade, tax cuts, and the Iraq War.
"Our opponents have not offered much in terms of strategies to win the war [on terrorism] or polices to expand our economy," he said. "So far, all we hear is a lot of old bitterness and partisan anger. Anger is not an agenda for the future of America."
The president's re-election campaign will launch a series of television ads in 17 states next week defending the administration's record on the economy and national security. Many of the states targeted were closely contested in the election four years ago.