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Kerry All But Clinches Democratic Presidential Nomination - 2004-03-03

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry won a string of Democratic primaries Tuesday, all but ensuring that he will be the Democratic Party's presidential nominee in the November election against President Bush.

From New York to California, from Ohio to Georgia, Senator Kerry dominated the so-called 'Super Tuesday' contests of ten Democratic primaries and caucuses.

North Carolina Senator John Edwards was unable to muster a win anywhere on Tuesday, coming closest in Georgia. U.S. news organizations report Senator Edwards has decided to quit the presidential race and will make a formal announcement today in his home state.

The expected withdrawal of Senator Edwards makes Senator Kerry the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, setting up a November election showdown with President Bush.

Senator Kerry addressed jubilant supporters at a victory rally in Washington, D.C.

"I am a fighter and for more than 30 years I have been on the battle lines, on the front lines of the struggle for fairness and for mainstream American values. And in 2004, I pledge we will tell the truth about what has happened in our country and we will fight and we will fight to give America back its future and its hope," he said.

Senator Edwards did not publicly confirm his planned withdrawal when he spoke to supporters in Atlanta. But he did thank those Democrats who supported him over the past six weeks of primaries and caucuses.

"Our campaign has never been about the politics of cynicism. It is about the politics of hope. It is about the politics of what is possible," he said. "And I am proud of the fact that you and I together have brought these issues back to the American debate-race, equality, civil rights, poverty-all these issues that the American people care deeply about. We have touched their souls again. They feel these issues. We have been the little engine that could and I am proud of what we have done together, you and I."

In a bit of a surprise, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean won his home state primary over Senator Kerry. But the victory is little more than symbolic since it comes two weeks after Mr. Dean ended his presidential campaign after a series of disappointing defeats.

President Bush phoned Senator Kerry to congratulate him on his impressive showing on Super Tuesday. The president told Senator Kerry that he looks forward to a "spirited contest" for the November election. Senator Kerry said he had a "very nice conversation" with the president and told Mr. Bush that he hopes to keep the 2004 election campaign "on the issues."