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Inside Politics

Democratic battle turns into two-man race

Dean ends campaign

Dean, his wife Judith behind him, announces that he is no longer a candidate.
Dean, his wife Judith behind him, announces that he is no longer a candidate.

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CNN's Kelly Wallace on the now two-man race between Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards.
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CNN's Candy Crowley traces the rapid rise and fall of Howard Dean.
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CNN's Bob Franken on the Wisconsin-fueled momentum of the Edwards camp.
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Tuesday, February 24: Hawaii, Idaho Democratic caucuses; Utah primary

Sunday, February 29: Puerto Rico Republican primary

"Super Tuesday," March 2: Primaries in California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, Georgia; caucuses in Minnesota

When is your primary? For more key dates in the 2004 election season, see our special America Votes 2004 Election Calendar
America Votes 2004
Presidential primaries
Democratic candidates

(CNN) -- The Democratic race for the White House turned largely into a two-man matchup Wednesday with Howard Dean's withdrawal from the field, leaving John Kerry and John Edwards battling for delegates as more state contests loom.

Kerry added to his growing list of state victories with a win in Wisconsin Tuesday, but Edwards claimed new momentum with his surprisingly strong second-place showing in that contest. (Full story)

Following his distant third-place finish in Wisconsin, Dean, the former governor of Vermont who had galvanized the Democratic base with his insurgent campaign, threw in the towel, even as he vowed to "transform the Democratic Party" through a new organization. (Full story)

Dean made no endorsement Wednesday, but vowed to support whoever emerged as the Democratic nominee and help to defeat President Bush in November.

Aides said Dean was mulling the possibility of an endorsement. He has been complimentary of Edwards lately on the campaign trail and he has had a chilly relationship with Kerry. But Dean aides cautioned that no decision has been made on who Dean might support.

Edwards said he would continue to focus on a key issue that exit polls showed helped him gain a last-minute surge among Wisconsin voters: trade. (Full story)

"Senator Kerry supported NAFTA and other trade agreements," Edwards told CNN. "I was against NAFTA and some of the trade agreements that he was for, and I think they've cost us millions of jobs. And I think voters need to see the difference in our views on what needs to be done about trade and how trade can work for America and American workers."

Kerry, who has served in the Senate since 1985, struck back at the one-term senator in comments to reporters on the campaign trail in Dayton, Ohio, part of the upcoming "Super Tuesday" lineup.

"We have the same policy on trade, exactly the same policy. He voted for the China Trade Agreement; so did I. And we both want to have labor agreements and environment agreements as part of any trade deal. So it's the exact same policy." As for Edwards' stance on NAFTA, Kerry said, "Well, he wasn't in the Senate back then. I don't know where he registered his vote, but he wasn't in the Senate."

'Super Tuesday'

The two men are battling for votes in Hawaii, Idaho, and Utah, which hold nominating contests next Tuesday, but they're putting more focus into the following week, when voters in 10 states will make their choices on "Super Tuesday." ('s interactive Election Calendar)

A total of 1,151 delegates will be picked March 2 in 10 states, including such electoral prizes as California, New York, Ohio and Georgia.

Kerry took aim at Bush in Ohio, saying that the president's budget proposal would cost the state $1.1 billion. He said tax cuts aimed at higher-income families should be rolled back with the money invested in "education, health care, cities and the future of our country."

Edwards, meanwhile, touted the support he won among independents in Tuesday's primary. They were allowed to cast a Democratic ballot Tuesday in Wisconsin, and they broke for Edwards by better than a 10-point margin.

"I would be the strongest candidate against George Bush because we have to get those people to win against George Bush in the fall," Edwards told CNN.

Edwards had no campaign events scheduled, but was traveling to New York, where he hopes to make a splash come Super Tuesday. He plans to visit the state five times in the next five days, and also has trips scheduled to Ohio, Georgia, Minnesota, and California.

"We always planned to go into March 2nd, and now we do so with wind on our backs," said Edwards' communications director, David Ginsberg.

Kerry's campaign sought to downplay Edwards' upward mobility, arguing that a win is a win -- and noting that Kerry has won all but two contests so far in the primary season.

In winning 16 of 18 contests held so far, Kerry has secured slightly more than a quarter of the 2,161 delegates he needs to win his party's White House nomination. ('s interactive look at Primary Results to date)

But enough delegates remain uncommitted to give either candidate a shot at the nomination in July. ('s interactive Delegate Scorecard)

Civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio remain in the race, but neither man has picked up a single primary or caucus win, and both are trailing badly in the polls.

CNN's Kelly Wallace, Dan Lothian, Candy Crowley, Judy Woodruff, Wolf Blitzer, Bill Schneider, Jeff Greenfield, Carlos Watson, John Mercurio, Justin Dial, Jamie McShane and Sasha Johnson contributed to this report.

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