Thu, Mar 04, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Kerry lands Democrat presidential nomination

WINNER The US senator was the last man standing in the Democrat race for the presidential nod after John Edwards bowed out after a `Super Tuesday' thrashing

AP , WASHINGTON

John Kerry, left, and his wife Theresa Heinz-Kerry embrace.

PHOTO: EPA

US Senator John Kerry laid claim to the Democratic presidential nomination after a decisive round of primary and caucus victories cleared the field for a feisty head-to-head battle against President George W. Bush -- a struggle already in motion.

Kerry's New York-to-California victories in the 10-state "Super Tuesday" series knocked the fight out of his spirited rival, Senator John Edwards.

The first-term senator, who had been the only one left with the ghost of a chance against Kerry, let the word out that he was quitting even before polls closed in the West and just as Minnesotans gathered in caucuses.

Suddenly, the Democrat-to-Democrat sniping is over, replaced by calls for unity, and Kerry is left with his hard-fought reward -- as well as the weight of Democrats' expectations that he can beat Bush in the fall.

"Tonight, the message can now be heard all across our country: Change is coming to America," said Kerry, 60, a four-term Massachusetts senator whose understated ways disguise a hotly competitive streak. "We will fight to give America back its future and its hope."

There were grace notes in the first blush of his victory -- a polite exchange with Bush, who called to congratulate him. But there is to be no grace period in their campaign fight.

The Republican president opens a multimillion-dollar TV ad blitz today to try to win back favor in a time of slipping poll numbers, and has a war chest of more than US$100 million to draw from in the months ahead, more than Kerry can muster.

Vice President Dick Cheney criticized Kerry on the airwaves on Tuesday as a frequent foe of defense and intelligence budgets, seeking to neutralize Kerry's draw as a decorated Vietnam veteran and his Senate experience in foreign policy.

And the courteous phone call aside, Kerry kept up the drumbeat of recent weeks against Bush, giving him no quarter on the war on terrorism or anything else.

"We will renew our alliances and we will build new alliances because they are essential to the final victory and success of a war on terror," he told supporters.

"The Bush administration has run the most inept, reckless, arrogant and ideological foreign policy in the modern history of our country," he said.

Kerry dominated the six-week Democratic competition from the Iowa caucuses on, once he shook off a torpid start and overcame the fading phenomenon of Howard Dean.

He has won 27 of 30 contests, putting him well on his way to winning the nomination formally once he has collected 2,162 delegates.Also See Story:

Kerry coasts on anger over Bush

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