Naked City

Super Tuesday Belongs to John Kerry

As expected, next week's Texas Democratic presidential primary became even less relevant this week as Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry rolled through Super Tuesday, winning all but one of the 10 state primaries or caucuses still up for grabs and motivating his last realistic opponent, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, to throw in the towel. The lone exception was Vermont, where favorite son and former Gov. Howard Dean pulled out a consolation prize for his earlier withdrawal, with 57% of the vote. As impressive as the grand total were the Kerry percentages: Only in Georgia (at 47% to Edwards' 42%) did he pull less than 50%, running in the 60s and 70s on the East Coast and California, the 50s in the Midwest. Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich was in the single digits everywhere except Minnesota, with a surprisingly strong 17%, and New York activist the Rev. Al Sharpton's high-water mark was his home state, with 8%. While the result does not formally deliver sufficient delegates for Kerry to declare outright victory, his opponents have now bowed to the inevitable and his June nomination.

Kerry was upbeat but aggressive in looking forward to the race directly against President Bush (who called Kerry to congratulate him on his victory). "Tonight, the message can now be heard all across our country: Change is coming to America," Kerry said. "We will fight to give America back its future and its hope." He hit hard on what is likely to be a constant campaign theme: "The Bush administration has run the most inept, reckless, arrogant, and ideological foreign policy in the modern history of our country."

Leading in to the Tuesday votes, Edwards had insisted he would remain in the race until the end but decided late Tuesday to formally withdraw. He called Kerry an "extraordinary advocate for jobs, better health care, a safer world. ... These are the causes of our party, these are the causes of our country, and these are the causes we will prevail on come November."

Speculation immediately turned to likely vice-presidential nominees, and the Kerry campaign said they might move forward on a choice in the next few days.

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