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KWAME HOLMAN: Massachusetts Senator John Kerry took a break from campaigning today, after rolling up big victories in five states last night.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: For the second time in a few days, a New England Patriot has won on the road. (Applause) Now we carry this campaign and the cause of a stronger, fairer, more prosperous America to all parts of our country, and we will take nothing for granted. We will compete everywhere. And in November we will beat George W. Bush.
KWAME HOLMAN: Kerry took the biggest prize of the night: Missouri. His 51 percent of the vote earned him 36 of Missouri’s 74 delegates. North Carolina Sen. John Edwards placed second with 25 percent, capturing 20 delegates.
In Arizona, Kerry picked up 43 percent of the vote and 30 of its 55 delegates. In second place, retired General Wesley Clark, with 27 percent of the vote and 22 delegates. In third, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, at 14 percent and three delegates.
New Mexico also went to Kerry. He got 42 percent of the vote and ten out of 21 delegates. Clark came in second with 21 percent and seven delegates; Dean in third, with 16 percent and four delegates.
Delaware also was Kerry country. He won half the vote and 14 of the state’s 15 delegates. And Kerry had a similar showing in North Dakota, where he won nine of 14 delegates. Clark came in second with 24 percent of the vote and five delegates.
Two other candidates won states yesterday as well. John Edwards, still energized from last night’s victory in South Carolina, campaigned in Tennessee and Virginia. Both hold primaries next week.
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS: Join me in this cause. Join me in this campaign. Together you and I are going to change this country. Thank you for being here today. It is my honor and privilege to be here with you. Go to the polls. Get your friends and neighbors to the polls. Thank you all very much. Thank you for coming today.
KWAME HOLMAN: In South Carolina, 45 percent cast their votes for Edwards, giving him 28 of the state’s 45 delegates. Kerry trailed with 30 percent, which earned him the remaining 17 delegates. The Rev. Al Sharpton had his strongest finish of the campaign, third place with 10 percent of the vote. At a rally in Columbia, S.C., last night, Sharpton said his showing was significant, given the odds.
AL SHARPTON: For me to come in double digits with no money, a long way from home, showed that volunteers and grassroots organizing does matter. (Applause) They said that “you were crazy,” they said that “you couldn’t affect anything.” Well, all of the experts now are sitting around trying to explain something. I heard one guy say, “Well, isn’t it something that Kerry beat Clark?” Well, isn’t it something that Sharpton beat Clark?
KWAME HOLMAN: John Kerry’s only other loss was in Oklahoma, where the Clark campaign managed a slim first victory.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (Ret.): As an old soldier from Arkansas, I just couldn’t be prouder of your support in this first election that I’ve ever won. Thank you. As we passed by Iowa, we won the non-new England portion of New Hampshire. And we came to Oklahoma and we won.
KWAME HOLMAN: Clark’s winning margin was just 1,200 votes, giving him 15 out of 40 delegates, Edwards won 13, and Kerry came in third with 27 percent of the vote and 12 delegates. Today, Clark continued to focus on the South, flipping pancakes at a diner in Tennessee.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK: It’s like we say, Oklahoma is OK. But you know what? Tennessee is going to be better.
KWAME HOLMAN: Howard Dean did not win any of last night’s contests, but he told a crowd in Washington state today that he was confident about their primary on Saturday.
HOWARD DEAN: Never in my lifetime have we faced as critical a struggle over the heart and soul of this country, and of this party. We have never so badly needed a real change in leadership. We are going to win the Washington caucuses on Saturday.
KWAME HOLMAN: Dean also has targeted contests in Michigan and Maine this weekend. Congressman Dennis Kucinich won no delegates last night, but has vowed to press on. He campaigned in Washington state today. Meanwhile, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman thanked staff and supporters in Hartford today. He dropped out of the race last night, after failing to win in any of the seven states.
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN: For me, it is now time to make a difficult but realistic decision. After looking at the returns and speaking with my family and my campaign team, I have decided tonight to end my quest for the presidency of the United States of America. Am I disappointed? Naturally. But am I proud of what we stood for in this campaign? You bet I am. (Applause) Thank you.
KWAME HOLMAN: With the Democratic field now at six, the candidates move on toward so-called Super Tuesday, March 2, when more than 1,100 delegates will be chosen.