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Dean's decision

By Wolf Blitzer

Howard Dean makes a formal announcement of his campaign's suspension Wednesday in Burlington, Vermont.

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From CNN's Wolf Blitzer in Washington:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- He spent more than a year on the campaign trail, raised and spent more than $40 million and found new ways to exploit the Internet, but wound up winless in 18 contests. His campaign for the White House, which once looked so promising, is now over.

"I am no longer actively pursuing the presidency," former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean announced Wednesday.

Speaking in a subdued, measured tone, he quickly insisted he would remain true to his cause.

"We will, however, continue to build a new organization, using our enormous grassroots network, to continue the effort to transform the Democratic Party and to change our country," Dean said.

In spelling out his new mission, he said his name would remain on the ballot and even urged his supporters to continue voting for him in the upcoming primaries and caucuses.

"Use your network to send progressive delegates to the convention in Boston," Dean said.

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But he also reassured nervous Democratic Party officials about his personal agenda saying, "Let me be clear: I will not run as an independent or third party candidate and I urge my supporters not to be tempted to support any effort by another candidate. The bottom line is that we must beat George W. Bush in November whatever it takes."

He did not endorse John Kerry or John Edwards or any other Democrat.

Howard Dean, the doctor-turned-governor in Vermont, who went from front-runner to also-ran in only a matter of weeks, left his supporters with a parting shot -- vintage Dean.

"You have the power to take our country back so that the flag of the United States of America no longer is the exclusive property of John Ashcroft and Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh and Jerry Falwell, that it belongs to all of us."

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