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SPOKESMAN: John Kerry!
KWAME HOLMAN: Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry took a break from campaigning today, after adding two Southern primaries to his win column last night.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: Thank you. Thank you, Virginia. Thank you, Tennessee. ( Cheers and applause ) Together, together across the South you have shown that mainstream values that we share, fairness, love of country, a belief in hope and in hard work, are more important than boundaries or birthplace.
KWAME HOLMAN: Kerry now has won 12 of the 14 Democratic contests thus far, and increasingly aims his victory speeches not at his remaining party rivals, but at President Bush.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: George Bush, who speaks of strength, has made America weaker, weaker economically, weaker in health care and education. And the truth is that he has made us weaker militarily by overextending our forces, and driving away our allies.
KWAME HOLMAN: After a second day off tomorrow, Kerry will campaign for upcoming contests in Nevada and Wisconsin. Meanwhile, his competitors had differing reactions to Kerry’s surging candidacy– one forged ahead with a typical campaign day, one attacked the runner, and one dropped out of the race. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark ended his campaign after losing to Kerry and Edwards in both of yesterday’s primaries. Clark has won in only one state.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK, (Ret.): Five months ago just a few miles from here, we began our journey. This was a journey for the presidency. It began, it began with what I call “the four no’s”: no money, no staff, no position papers, and a candidate with no political experience. And today, after traveling across the country, after visiting with so many people, we have decided we’re going to end this phase of this journey even more full of hope and even more committed to building a better America.
KWAME HOLMAN: Clark had banked on doing well in Tennessee and Virginia, given his Southern roots in Arkansas.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK: I wasn’t a politician, and in the end, I’m still a solider, not a politician.
KWAME HOLMAN: Meanwhile, John Edwards still hopes to position himself as the potential alternative to John Kerry. Edwards talked trade and jobs in Lacrosse, Wis., today.
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS: I picked up my newspaper in Milwaukee this morning, and on the front page: “500 jobs leaving Milwaukee, going to Mexico.” Here we go again. Part of the same old pattern. You know, this administrations’ trade policies, their tax policies that are leading to thousands of thousands of … actually across America millions of jobs, particularly manufacturing jobs, leaving this country.
KWAME HOLMAN: Edwards plans to campaign in Wisconsin for the next several days. Aides say he will remain positive, and not criticize the front-runner. However, at a stop in Milwaukee today, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean launched a pointed attack on John Kerry.
HOWARD DEAN: What I see here is a candidate who is not standing up for ordinary middle-class people, a candidate who is not interested in changing the political culture in Washington, a candidate who has a great deal of rhetoric but very little record to support that.
KWAME HOLMAN: Dean also criticized Kerry for working with a campaign group run by former New Jersey Sen. Robert Torricelli. The group ran anti-Dean television ads earlier in the campaign.
HOWARD DEAN: One of Senator Kerry’s fundraisers, Senator Torricelli, who had to step aside from a race because of his own ethically challenged behavior, is now raising money for Senator Kerry and for this secret political action committee. This is exactly what we don’t need in Washington.
KWAME HOLMAN: Dean finished in the single digits in last night’s primaries, and has failed to win any contest. He is counting on a strong finish on Tuesday in Wisconsin to revive his candidacy. Meanwhile, Congressman Dennis Kucinich met with supporters in his home state of Ohio today.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: My campaign for the presidency arises from a condition where unemployment is growing in this country, where the movement of wages is not going up, it’s going down, where many workers are experiencing a level of insecurity they never had before.
KWAME HOLMAN: Both Kucinich and the Rev. Al Sharpton continue to say they will press on in the primaries regardless of their showing.