A disappointing fourth place finish in Iowa prompted Rep. Dick Gephardt to end his presidential run.
|CANDIDATES IN IOWA|
The number of days each Democratic candidate spent campaigning in Iowa through January 12, 2004:
Howard Dean: 70 days
John Kerry: 70
Dick Gephardt: 62
John Edwards: 57
Dennis Kucinich: 51
Bob Graham*: 22
Joe Lieberman: 16
Carol Moseley Braun*: 11
Al Sharpton: 7
Wesley Clark: 3
* dropped out of race
Source: Des Moines Register
(CNN) -- Iowa Democrats upended the Democratic presidential race January 19, giving Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts a strong comeback victory and dealing a fatal blow to Rep. Dick Gephardt's White House run.
North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, whose once listless campaign gained new life in Iowa, came in second place ahead of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, an early favorite in both state and national polls.
Gephardt finished fourth in a state he once said he had to win, and dropped out of the race the day after the caucuses. (Full Iowa results)
For months, the Iowa race seemed to be a showdown between Dean, the national front-runner, and Gephardt, the veteran congressman from neighboring Missouri who won the 1988 Iowa caucuses in his first, and ultimately unsuccessful, bid for his party's presidential nomination.
But days before the caucuses, the race tightened as Iowans took more notice of Kerry and Edwards, bringing suspense, surprise and electricity to the Democratic fight.
While Dean's broad-stroke antiwar, anti-President Bush message resonated with Iowa Democrats early on, the candidates surged ahead by talking as much about Dean's lack of experience in world affairs and lack of specifics in his political agenda. (Iowa voters: Economy, health care top issues)
Polls conducted the week before the caucuses pointed to a close race between Dean, Edwards, Gephardt and Kerry -- with the two senators clearly gaining momentum.
A Des Moines Register poll released the day before the caucuses showed Kerry narrowly in front at 26 percent of likely caucus participants, Edwards right behind at 23 percent, followed by Dean at 20 percent and Gephardt at 18 percent.
With a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, the poll indicated a race that was too close to call. (Caucus explainer)
An estimated 100,000 to 125,000 Iowans -- one of the state's highest turnouts to date -- braved single-digit temperatures across the state January 19 to attend precinct caucuses.
In the end, these caucus-goers gave a major lift to Kerry's roller coaster campaign.
Widely seen as a front-runner when he entered the race in late 2002, the four-term senator stumbled badly in the polls and fired his campaign manager in November 2003. (Full story)
In his Iowa victory speech, Kerry alluded to his renaissance on the campaign trail, after several difficult and frustrating months.
"I have listened to you, and I've learned from you," he said. "You have made me a better candidate, and I thank you for that." (Transcript)
Edwards also pointed to his strong Iowa showing as pivotal to his campaign, telling cheering supporters that they started "a movement to change this country that will sweep across America." (Full story)
Dean's third-place position in Iowa threatened to sap his momentum heading into the New Hampshire primary, but the former Vermont governor told supporters, "We will not quit, now or ever." (Full story)
The caucuses hurt no one more than Gephardt, the 14-term congressman who said he would not seek re-election to the House and ended his presidential bid after the poor Iowa showing. (Full story)
Two of the eight Democratic candidates -- retired Gen. Wesley Clark of Arkansas and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut -- bypassed Iowa, concentrating their efforts in New Hampshire and its January 27 primary. (Election calendar)
The Iowa race was the most competitive since 1988, when six Democrats competed. But while the 2004 caucuses attracted considerable attention, the state's selections historically do not always mesh with who wins either party's nomination.
In 1988, for example, Gephardt won in Iowa but lost the Democratic nomination to then-Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis. That same year, Bob Dole won the GOP caucuses, but the nomination went to George H. W. Bush, father of the sitting president.