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Kerry wins Idaho, Utah, Hawaii

Candidates look to Thursday debate and 'Super Tuesday'

John Kerry meets with steelworkers at a factory in Cleveland, Ohio, on Wednesday.
John Kerry meets with steelworkers at a factory in Cleveland, Ohio, on Wednesday.

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America Votes 2004
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Democratic front-runner Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts added three more wins to his victory column, sweeping contests in Utah, Idaho and Hawaii over his major rival for the presidential nomination, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.

"I'm thrilled," Kerry told reporters Wednesday in Cleveland, Ohio, where he visited a steel plant. "It was great, but we've got a lot of work ahead of us, a lot of work, a lot of campaigning to do."

Tuesday's trio of small state contests, which have been largely overshadowed by next week's "Super Tuesday" delegate bonanza, were the first since the Democratic race narrowed to essentially a battle between Kerry and Edwards.

The results appeared to do little to alter the dynamics of the Democratic race, as Edwards, in his dogged pursuit to divert Kerry's march toward the nomination, is counting on "Super Tuesday" -- with its bounty of 10 states and 1,151 delegates -- to propel him further. (CNN.com's interactive Election Calendar)

Edwards made little mention of the Tuesday contests, focusing instead on California -- the single biggest prize in the March 2 contests -- as he appealed Wednesday to Americans to tackle poverty.

"This is the time for you and I together to set our sights on what is possible, what we can do together," Edwards told an audience of supporters in Claremont, California. "It's time for us to quiet the skeptics, to lift the voices of those who want to strive, to seek, to never yield on these moral issues that tug at the soul of this country."

For the second day in a row, Kerry was in Ohio, another state on the "Super Tuesday" rooster.

None of the Democratic candidates visited any of the three states that held contests on Tuesday.

It was Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio who came in second in Hawaii's caucuses, with 30 percent of the vote, with nearly all precincts reporting. Kerry secured 46 percent, Edwards came in third with 13 percent, while 9 percent went to former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who suspended his campaign last week.

In Idaho, Kerry beat Edwards in party caucuses, with 54 percent of the vote to 22 percent for Edwards. Dean garnered 11 percent, and another 7 percent cast their ballots as uncommitted.

In the Utah primary, Kerry won with 55 percent, Edwards came in second with 30 percent, followed by Kucinich at 7 percent. (Full results: America Votes 2004)

Sixty-one delegates were up for grabs Tuesday, just 3 percent of what's needed to secure the Democratic nomination. (CNN.com's interactive Primary Explainer)

Also in the Democratic race was civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York. Neither he nor Kucinich has won a contest. Both trail in the polls.

Sharpton's name was not even printed on the ballot cards Tuesday in Idaho.

None of the states that voted Tuesday is likely to be up for grabs this fall. Utah and Idaho were among President Bush's strongest states in 2000; Hawaii is a Democratic bastion.

However, Kerry does have a connection to Idaho. He and his wife, food company heiress Teresa Heinz Kerry, own a home in Sun Valley, a Democratic area in what's an otherwise solidly Republican state.

Kerry now has won 19 of the 21 contests decided so far. Edwards has claimed the title of second in the Democratic field by winning in South Carolina and coming in as a close second in Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Four of the 10 largest states hold primaries next Tuesday -- New York, California, Ohio and Georgia. Also holding primaries then are Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont, while Minnesota will hold caucuses.

The Democratic candidates will meet Thursday in a debate in Los Angeles, sponsored by CNN and the Los Angeles Times.

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader joined the presidential race Sunday, but he is running as an independent and is not on the Democratic ballot. (Full story)

CNN's Sean Loughlin contributed to this report.


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