Kerry trounced Edwards, Bush phoned Kerry, and the fall campaign got a six-month head start Tuesday.
Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts all but iced the Democratic nomination, scoring victories in nine of 10 states that held March 2 Super Tuesday contests. Kerry won soundly in New York, California and Ohio, and eked out a victory in Georgia, the one Southern state to vote Tuesday.
Kerry's last major rival, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, will drop out of the race Wednesday (March 3), according to multiple media reports.
Kerry even received a congratulatory phone call from his opponent-to-be, President George W. Bush, Tuesday night.
The senator described his chat with the president as "nice." "I said I hope we have a great debate about the issues before the country," Kerry told reporters. Minutes later, he reiterated his attacks on the Bush administration during victory remarks to supporters and staff in Washington, D.C.
Kerry again hammered the White House for what he termed "the most inept, reckless, arrogant and ideological foreign policy in the modern history of our country."
He said that as president he would seek to restore frayed ties with U.S. allies abroad.
"On behalf of all Americans and on behalf of the other 96 percent of humankind waiting for leadership from the United States, we will rejoin the community of nations and ... build new alliances because they are essential to the final victory and success of a war on terror," Kerry said.
Kerry, a Vietnam War veteran, also questioned Bush's overall credibility with the public.
"When I first led veterans to the Mall here in Washington, to stop the war in Vietnam, it was a time of doubt and fear in this land," he said. "It was a time when millions of Americans could not trust or believe what their leaders were telling them. And now, today, Americans are once again wondering if they can trust or believe the leadership of our country."
For his part, Senator Edwards was gracious in defeat, heaping praise on the party's presumptive nominee.
"I'd like to congratulate my friend, Senator John Kerry," Edwards said. "He's run a strong, powerful campaign, and he's been an extraordinary advocate for causes all of us believe in: more jobs, better health care, a cleaner environment, 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."
Kerry did little to dampen speculation that Edwards is destined for the #2 slot on the Democratic ticket. For weeks, senior Democrats and many pundits have talked Edwards up as a potential vice-presidential nominee.
"There is no question that John Edwards brings a compelling voice to our party, great eloquence to the cause of working men and women all across our nation and great promise for leadership for the years to come," Kerry said, later adding, "he is a valiant champion of the values for which our party stands."
Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who withdrew from the Democratic race several weeks ago but remained on the ballot in many states, scored a victory of sorts Tuesday, winning his home state by a wide margin.
Tuesday's results give Kerry a virtually insurmountable lead in the all-important delegate count. He now enjoys the support of 1,355 delegates compared to 474 for his chief rival, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, according to a CBS News tally. In all, 2,162 delegates are needed to capture the nomination.
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