Make it a double.
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry posted his second key victory in two weeks, winning the New Hampshire presidential primary by a commanding margin Tuesday. Kerry took home 39 percent of the vote, clobbering his nearest rival, former Vermont governor Howard Dean, by 13 points.
The final vote tally was as follows:
John Kerry - 39 percent
Howard Dean - 26 percent
Wesley Clark -12 percent
John Edwards - 12 percent
Joe Lieberman - 9 percent
Dennis Kucinich - 2 percent
Al Sharpton - 0 percent
In remarks after the vote, Kerry thanked the voters of New Hampshire and took aim at the current occupant of the White House.
"Today, you voted for new hope in the United States of America and I intend to provide it," Kerry told supporters gathered at a Manchester hotel.
"I ask Democrats everywhere to join us so that we can defeat George W. Bush and the economy of privilege," he said earlier in the speech. "And so that we can fulfill the ideal of opportunity not just for some but for all Americans."
The win solidifies Kerry's position as front-runner in the Democratic race. He can expect rivals to train their fire on him in coming days as a result. The national media will also inevitably begin to dig more thoroughly into his past to find questionable or seemingly inconsistent stances he may have
taken. So far, Kerry's three-term voting record in the Senate has come under little scrutiny.
Tuesday's results were another setback for Dean. As recently as last month the former governor led Kerry in New Hampshire polls by 20 points or more.
On Tuesday, Dean sounded an upbeat tone despite finishing second with 26 percent. During remarks to supporters gathered at a New Hampshire college Tuesday night, he stressed that he had no intention of exiting the race.
"For those of you who believe that America needs real change and someone in the White House who's really delivered change, we're all together in this," he said. "Stand with us to the very end, which is January 20, 2005."
Dean is under increasing pressure to post an outright win somewhere soon, however. He raised $40 million last year, much of it in small-dollar donations of $200 or less. But most of that money has been spent. To afford to buy additional TV ads in the many states with upcoming primaries, he needs cash in a hurry.
Contributors tend to want to put their money on a candidate they think can win, at least according to conventional wisdom. But Dean's original contributor base might not be tapped out and may still be willing to chip in more now, despite Tuesday's results.
The most competitive fight in New Hampshire proved to be the battle for third place. With 97 percent of the state's vote tallied, General Wesley Clark of Arkansas held just a 705-vote advantage over Senator John Edwards of North Carolina.
It wasn't a terribly impressive result for either candidate. But it was enough for both to credibly say they remain top-tier contenders for the nomination.
Not so for Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. Despite literally relocating to New Hampshire (he rented an apartment in Manchester), he failed to finish in double digits. Still, Lieberman vowed to continue to stay in the race for at least another week.
"The American people know that I trust them enough to level with them, and they know they can trust me enough to do what is right for this great and beloved country of ours," he said. "So the battle goes on."
Perhaps the biggest surprise to come out of New Hampshire was the total lack of surprise. Ultimately, the state went for a guy from next-door Massachusetts. And between them, Kerry and Dean, the two candidates from neighboring states, took roughly two out of three votes cast.
Kerry's win in New Hampshire looks impressive because of how far he fell behind Dean there in polls taken last year. But realistically, the Massachusetts senator was always best positioned to win the state. New Hampshire is increasingly a community of commuters who cross the state line to work in Boston. Most of the state's voters live within 50 miles of
Massachusetts and get their news from Boston television stations where Kerry has been a familiar presence for 20 years.
The bigger tests for the Massachusetts senator lie ahead as he heads to unfamiliar territory and as the candidates and national media sharpen their knives to come after him.
The Democratic race heads south and southwest in the coming week with contests in Missouri, South Carolina, Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Delaware and North Dakota, and that means the hand-to-hand combat phase of the nominating process is now officially over — good-bye campaign bus, hello campaign jet.
Rather than attempting to personally meet and sway individual voters as they did in Iowa and New Hampshire, the candidates will focus primarily on making as many TV-friendly appearances in key local media markets as they can before Tuesday.
With suddenly so many states up for grabs and dwindling financial resources, the candidates that finished behind Kerry will be forced to pick and choose where they compete in coming days.
Dean planned to spend Wednesday (January 28) strategizing on the subject with his staff in Burlington, Vermont. But he indicated Tuesday night that he planned to campaign in New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma and Michigan, which holds its
caucuses on February 7.
Edwards has indicated that he must win South Carolina or get out of the race. He hails from neighboring North Carolina and hopes his familiar face and accent will help him score a decisive victory. Much of his week is dominated by events in South Carolina, including a planned appearance with '90s frat rockers Hootie and the Blowfish.
Lieberman has said that he plans to visit Delaware and Oklahoma in coming days. It was not immediately clear where Clark planned to compete. His campaign had posted no public events on his Web site as of Wednesday
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