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Inside Politics

Sharpton mulls staying or withdrawing

Civil rights activist says he'll decide before next Tuesday

The Rev. Al Sharpton says he is running for the nomination as well as to draw attention to unaddressed issues.
The Rev. Al Sharpton says he is running for the nomination as well as to draw attention to unaddressed issues.

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Democratic Presidential candidate Al Sharpton tells CNN's Larry King he's staying in the race for now because he has an agenda to fulfill (March 3)
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America Votes 2004
Al Sharpton
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Presidential primaries

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton said late Tuesday that he would decide in the next day or so, but certainly before next Tuesday, whether to remain in the presidential primary race.

As the 10-state Super Tuesday nominating contests drew to a close, Sharpton had no victories and trailed far behind in all the races, even in his home state of New York. (Full story)

Once all the results were in, he said, he would discuss with his staff whether he should continue in the race or withdraw.

"How we proceed from now, we will decide after all the votes come in here tonight," Sharpton said in response to questions posed on CNN's "Larry King Live." Sharpton was watching results from the Super Tuesday races at a restaurant in Harlem.

"We're not in this just for the nomination. We're in it to make sure that people who have been unheard are heard and issues that have been unaddressed are addressed," he said.

He congratulated Sen. John Kerry, who rolled across the Super Tuesday landscape.

Asked where he would be on the "enthusiasm meter" in backing Kerry, Sharpton said, "I'm at a ten-plus-ten. And if he's the nominee he would be the beneficiary of that. But that must come with principles and things we want added to the agenda.

"We want to see Bush defeated, but we also want to see our constituency dealt with, and how that will play out, we'll know in the next day or so."

Last year, Sharpton argued that Democrats and Republicans were becoming too similar on issues such as war, health care, business deregulation and taxes. He said his goal was to sound an alarm.

Born in 1954 in New York City, Sharpton rose from youth-preacher to political activist -- founding his signature organization, the National Action Network -- in 1991. NAN raises money for inner-city youths and fights drug abuse.

In his first political campaign, the 1992 U.S. Senate primary in New York, Sharpton came in third of four Democrats, trailing former Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro.

Two years later, he challenged widely respected three-term incumbent Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the Democratic primary and lost. But he improved his tally, garnering 26 percent of the vote.

In 1997, Sharpton lost the New York City mayoral primary, but he did receive 32 percent of the vote, nearly forcing a runoff.

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