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Inside Politics

Campaigns move forward, Kerry out front

Dean, Clark blast rivals as Washington insiders

John Edwards leaves the stage at a campaign stop Wednesday in Memphis, Tennessee.
John Edwards leaves the stage at a campaign stop Wednesday in Memphis, Tennessee.

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(CNN) -- John Kerry and John Edwards, the two Democrats who gained the most from Tuesday's presidential sweepstakes, came under fire Wednesday from their Democratic rivals -- a reflection of their status as the leaders in the race for their party's nomination.

Both former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and retired Gen. Wesley Clark took aim at Kerry and Edwards, lumping them together as part of the problem in the nation's capital.

Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and four-term senator from Massachusetts, racked up five of seven states in Tuesday's contests. Edwards, a first-term senator from North Carolina won South Carolina and ran strong in Oklahoma. (Interactive: Tuesday's contests at a glance)

The campaigns quickly shifted their focus to Michigan and Washington, which hold caucuses Saturday; Maine, with caucuses Sunday; and Tennessee and Virginia, which hold primaries Tuesday. (CNN.com's interactive Election Calendar)

Dean -- shut out of Tuesday's contests and hoping for a comeback with caucuses Saturday -- delivered a speech to supporters in Seattle, Washington, that cited the need for "fundamental institutional change."

Although he never mentioned Kerry and Edwards by name, the implication was clear as he declared there was no need for "more of the same in Washington."

On a bus tour in Tennessee, Clark -- who claimed victory in Oklahoma even though Tuesday's results remained unofficial -- unleashed the most heated attack of his campaign against the two.

In written statements released by his campaign, Clark branded Kerry and Edwards "conventional politicians" who "say one thing and then do another."

New landscape

The primary season moved into a new chapter, with Kerry's momentum fueled by Tuesday's multiple wins and Edwards' first victory. (Full story)

The results represented the broadest assessment by voters -- both in geographic and demographic terms -- on the narrowing Democratic field.

Dean hit the campaign trail hard. He hopes a win in the Washington caucuses would mark the beginning of a return to the front of the pack -- the status he held in nationwide polls before the primary season began. He is also competing in Michigan caucuses.

"We can do things differently in this country, it just requires courage," he said in his Seattle speech.

While indirect, he repeated some criticism of Kerry.

"You know that we need health insurance for all Americans," he said. "You think we're going to get it from some folks in Washington who have been the largest receivers of special interest money for the last 19 years? I don't think so."

Kerry has received more contributions from lobbyists than any other senator since 1989, according to data compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. (Full story)

But he says the contributions were from individuals, constituted a tiny percentage of his campaign funds, and were never followed up with any legislative actions.

Kerry kept a low-profile Wednesday, returning to Boston, Massachusetts. Edwards was on the campaign trail in Tennessee and Virginia, where he billed himself as a candidate with national appeal.

In Jackson, Tennessee, Clark called himself "a real leader," saying the American people "want someone who will stand up for them, not look out for themselves."

"My opponents on the inside have said that the American people shouldn't hold them responsible for everything that happens because we don't understand how things work in Washington," Clark said in prepared remarks.

"They're right. I don't understand how Washington politicians can say one thing and then do another.

Edwards said his win in South Carolina and strong showings elsewhere prove his campaign is viable and show that he is "somebody who can beat George Bush nationally."

Edwards told CNN he expects to be "very competitive" in all 11 states -- including California and New York, the states with the most delegates -- in which voters will choose nominees on March 2, known as "Super Tuesday."

Lieberman returns home

Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Lieberman, who bowed out of the race Tuesday night after failing to win a single state, returned to his home state of Connecticut, greeted by friends and supporters in Hartford.

"I go forward from this campaign that ended yesterday, full of gratitude, and full of hope that together we can, and will, build a new and better tomorrow for our beloved country," said Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee. "Thank you Connecticut."

The Rev. Al Sharpton, the lone black candidate in the Democratic field, remained in the race Wednesday. Like Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, he has yet to win a state primary or caucus.


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