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Dean Says Race for White House Over if He Fails to Win Wisconsin Primary - 2004-02-05

US Democratic party presidential contender Howard Dean told supporters Thursday that he must win the February 17 primary in the state of Wisconsin or he will be forced to abandon his campaign for the White House. Dean at one time was the front-runner for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

In an e-mail to supporters, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean says his entire campaign now hinges on a victory in the Wisconsin primary on February 17.

Mr. Dean's campaign manager, Roy Neel, described the Wisconsin primary as a must win in order for Mr. Dean to emerge as the alternative to the current Democratic front-runner, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.

Howard Dean has had a disappointing showing in the nine primaries so far. His best showing was second place in the New Hampshire primary on January 27.

On Tuesday, when Senator Kerry won five of seven Democratic contests, Mr. Dean was trying to rally supporters in Washington State. "We are going to pick up some delegates tonight and this is all about who gets the most delegates in Boston in July [at the Democratic National Convention] and it is going to be us.

The Dean campaign made a fundraising appeal Thursday and a campaign press release said more than $50,000 had been raised on-line in a single hour.

The Dean camp is hoping for decent showings in three caucus votes by Sunday, Michigan, Washington State and Maine, and using that momentum to win in Wisconsin on February 17.

But many political analysts believe the Dean campaign has a steep hill to climb to get back into the race. "I think Howard Dean at this point is whistling past the graveyard," said Washington-based political analyst Stuart Rothenberg. "His campaign is out of gas. He had to bypass seven contests this week. The polling data in places like Washington State and Michigan, where he was once in terrific shape, has now turned very bad for him. He just doesn't have the resources. I think he is going to start to lose people who have endorsed him. This is a guy who has got to get his campaign up and going very, very quickly and there is not a lot of indication that that is going to happen."

Meanwhile, the Kerry campaign continues to gather momentum. The Massachusetts Democrat has picked up some key endorsements this week including Maine Governor John Baldacci and former U.S. Senator George Mitchell of Maine.

Public opinion polls suggest Senator Kerry is positioned to do well in the upcoming votes in Michigan, Washington State and Maine.

His two main rivals, North Carolina Senator John Edwards and retired General Wesley Clark, are trying to build on their victories in South Carolina and Oklahoma respectively this week by campaigning for votes in next Tuesday's primaries in Tennessee and Virginia.