Kerry Closer To Clinching, Bush Nabs All The Delegates He Needs

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry sweeps primaries in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas on Tuesday.

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry came one unchallenged step closer Tuesday to tying up the Democratic nomination for president, sweeping primaries in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Those primaries also gave President George W. Bush the delegates needed to earn the Republican presidential nomination. Bush is running unopposed in his party.

On the Democratic side, although North Carolina Senator John Edwards' candidacy went kaput after a disastrous showing in last week's Super Tuesday contests (see "John Kerry Cleans Up, John Edwards To Drop Out Of Presidential Race"), Edwards remained on the ballot and managed to take the distant #2 spot in all the races, finishing ahead of the perpetually straggling Reverend Al Sharpton and Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich.

Kerry came in with 70 percent or more of the vote in Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi, and 67 percent in Texas. Edwards' best showing came in Louisiana, where he garnered 16 percent of the vote.

Had Edwards managed to stay alive through this Tuesday, supporters hoped that victories in these contests — all Southern states where Edwards felt more confident — might have revived his candidacy. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, another erstwhile favorite, consistently kept pace or finished higher than Kucinich and Sharpton.

Kerry has effectively cleared the road to his nomination, but he's still a few hundred delegates shy of clinching it — having secured 1,816 by The Associated Press' count of the 2,162 necessary — so he will continue to campaign. Voter turnout has dropped off somewhat, though, as Democrats turn their attention from choosing a Democratic candidate to making sure he beats Bush.

In that spirit of party solidarity, Kerry travels to Washington, D.C., this week to meet with Edwards and Dean, ostensibly to discuss endorsements from his former opponents and, some hope, to explore the possibility of bringing Edwards on as the Democratic vice-presidential candidate.

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