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Kerry Decisively Wins Primaries in Utah, Idaho, Hawaii - 2004-02-25

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry made gains Tuesday in his race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, with decisive wins in the presidential primary in Utah, and party caucuses in Idaho. The candidates are now looking toward bigger contests next week.

Just 61 delegates were at stake Tuesday out of more than 2,100 needed for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. But the results widen the gap between Senator John Kerry, the frontrunner, and North Carolina Senator John Edwards. Mr. Kerry has won all but two of the caucuses and primaries held so far.

As Mr. Kerry expanded his lead, he also came under criticism from the man he hopes to defeat in the general election in November. President Bush says Mr. Kerry has shifted his positions on free trade, tax cuts and the Iraq War.

Senator Kerry, campaigning in Ohio, in turn criticized the president, calling Mr. Bush a "walking contradiction." Mr. Kerry blamed the president for job losses, a rise in the deficit, and worsening relations with allies.

The Massachusetts senator also accused Mr. Bush of ignoring the needs of ordinary Americans, and those in the military. "We've got the money to take care of people earning more than $200,000 a year, and we don't have the money to take care of people who are coming back to this country and those who serve their nation in uniform," he said.

Neither of the two major Democratic candidates campaigned in the states that held contests Tuesday - Idaho, Hawaii and Utah. They turned their attention instead to some of the states that will hold primaries and caucuses in the coming weeks. Mr. Kerry campaigned in Ohio and Mr. Edwards in Georgia and Texas.

Ten states will hold contests March 2, known as Super Tuesday, including Georgia, Ohio, New York and California. At stake are more than half of the delegates needed for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. The four major Democrats who remain in the race - Mr. Kerry, Mr. Edwards, Congressman Dennis Kucinich and activist Al Sharpton - will hold a debate in Los Angeles Thursday evening.