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Source: Clark to endorse Kerry

Edwards, Dean chase Kerry in Wisconsin

Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark is expected to endorse Sen. John Kerry on Friday.
Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark is expected to endorse Sen. John Kerry on Friday.

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(CNN) -- Sen. John Kerry will pick up the endorsement of former Democratic rival Wesley Clark, a Democratic source told CNN, as Sen. John Edwards and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean tried to convince Wisconsin voters the Democratic presidential race isn't over.

Clark was scheduled to appear with Kerry on Friday in Wisconsin, the scene of the next major Democratic contest. In a CNN interview Thursday, Clark would not confirm that he would endorse Kerry, but said, " I'm looking forward to seeing John tomorrow."

A Democratic source called Clark's expected endorsement a "significant step forward" for the Kerry campaign, predicting it would draw Southern and military votes to Kerry, who has won 12 of the first 14 Democratic contests.

For a second day, Kerry took a break from the campaign trail, staying home in Washington. His campaign dismissed questions about a photograph that surfaced on the Internet and TV and in newspapers showing him at a 1970 protest against the Vietnam War with Jane Fonda. (Full story)

Clark, who dropped out of the race Wednesday, won only one primary, in Oklahoma, during a campaign of just five months. Four other Democrats remain in the race: Dean, Edwards, Rep Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and the Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist.

Dean again tried to appeal to the independence of Badger State voters, urging supporters in Madison to ignore commentators who have said the race is effectively over.

"They expect you to rubber-stamp the choice of others," he said. "You don't have to listen to them."

Dean campaigned in Wisconsin Thursday with his wife, Judy, who generally avoids the campaign trail. "This is my new best spokesman," he told reporters.

Judy Dean is a physician, like her husband was before becoming Vermont's governor in 1991. She said she "would have liked to be out here more" but was excited to return to the campaign trail.

Edwards, meanwhile, continued to tout his prospects in the South, despite losing Tuesday's Tennessee and Virginia primaries to Kerry.

He told NBC that "a lot" of Clark's supporters could rally around his campaign, "because they know I'm the one person left in this race who has won a really tough race in the South."

Edwards, a first-term senator from North Carolina, won the South Carolina primary February 3.

Before Wisconsin votes, Democratic contests will be held this weekend in the District of Columbia and Nevada, where Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie was scheduled to deliver a sharp broadside against Kerry in a Thursday night speech in Reno.

In prepared remarks, Gillespie attacks Kerry and other Democrats, saying they are readying "the dirtiest campaign in modern presidential politics."

He denounced questions about whether President Bush fulfilled his service obligations in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, saying, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

The White House has said documents they released this week prove Bush reported for duty as required, while Democrats say the pay records and a summary of credits for service raise more questions than they answer.(Full story)

While Gillespie was careful to note Kerry's "honorable" military service -- Kerry was a decorated Navy officer in Vietnam who became a prominent antiwar activist after returning home -- he said Kerry's Senate voting record "is one of advocating policies that would weaken our national security."

Torricelli role

On Wednesday, Dean blasted Kerry over a Washington Post article that former U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli, a Kerry supporter, helped bankroll a group that ran attack ads against the former governor in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. The ad questioned Dean's experience in foreign affairs and featured an image of Osama bin Laden.

Torricelli was forced to drop his 2002 re-election bid in New Jersey after the Senate Ethics Committee admonished him for receiving items from an ally convicted of violating federal campaign laws. A former Kerry spokesman, Robert Gibbs, was listed as one of the leaders of the group, called Americans for Jobs, Healthcare and Progressive Values.

Referring to a possible matchup of Kerry vs. Bush, Dean also said, "I'm just deeply disappointed that once again we may have to settle for the lesser of two evils."

But Kerry spokesman David Wade dismissed the allegation as "another Dean act of divisive desperation," insisting that Kerry's campaign was not behind the ads, didn't know about Torricelli's contributions to the group and has had no association with Gibbs since he left.

Kerry attracts Clark backers

After his victories Tuesday in Tennessee and Virginia, Kerry continued to pick up new support. He was endorsed by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-New Mexico, and Rep. Tom Allen, D-Maine, along with the presidents of 18 unions that, as a group, had previously endorsed Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri. Gephardt dropped out of the race after his disappointing finish in the Iowa caucuses in January.

Also, a movement was under way among the 20 Democratic members of Congress who had endorsed Clark to switch their allegiance to Kerry.

Reps. Charles Rangel of New York and Marion Berry of Arkansas said they were getting behind Kerry and urging other Clark supporters to follow their lead.

"A majority of members who had endorsed Clark will at some point in the near future endorse Kerry," said Berry, one of Clark's earliest and staunchest supporters.

Up for grabs in Wisconsin are 72 delegates. To win the nomination, a candidate needs 2,161 delegates. (Delegate scorecard)

After Wisconsin, comes "Super Tuesday," when 10 states hold contests March 2. (Interactive election calendar)

CNN's Ted Barrett, Laura Bernardini, Justin Dial, Sasha Johnson, Dan Lothian, John Mercurio, Kyra Phillips, Brian Todd and Kelly Wallace contributed to this report.


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