- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 25, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Democratic front-runner John Kerry easily won the Utah primary and Idaho caucuses last night and looked for more good fortune in the Hawaii contest, the last before a climactic 10-state round next week.

The night’s three races were little more than blips on the political calendar, as only several thousand people voted in the thinly-populated and heavily-Republican mainland states. No results were expected from Hawaii until this morning.

With 75 percent of Utah precincts reporting, Mr. Kerry outpaced North Carolina Sen. John Edwards by 54 percent to 30 percent — 8,455 votes to 4,787. Mr. Kerry won by an even bigger margin in Idaho with 51 percent of precincts in — 646 votes to 194, or 68 percent to 20 percent.

The candidates are putting their energies on the coming Super Tuesday states such as New York, California and Ohio, and Mr. Kerry is already looking beyond the nomination fight and tangling with President Bush.

The fourth-term Massachusetts senator earlier in the day depicted Mr. Bush as a “walking contradiction” who has presided over job losses, a deficit increase and frayed international alliances despite promises to the contrary.

Mr. Bush had opened up on him a day before in his most partisan remarks of the campaign. Mr. Edwards reminded the president that the race for the Democratic nomination is not over.

“Not so fast, George Bush,” said Mr. Edwards, the last remaining major rival to Mr. Kerry. “You don’t get to decide who our nominee is.”

Mr. Kerry, held a large and growing lead in the Democratic delegate chase, with 632 in the Associated Press count to 190 for Mr. Edwards, going into the night’s three contests. A total of 61 delegates were at stake.

Meanwhile yesterday, Mr. Kerry released a new TV commercial intended to soften Mr. Edwards’ criticisms of his vote for the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement.

“We need to be on the side of America’s workers,” Mr. Kerry says in the spot. “George Bush won’t do it. I will.”

The ad, which begins airing today in Ohio and upstate New York, was announced one day after the Massachusetts Democrat said he would not run negative ads if Mr. Bush’s re-election team promised to do the same.

Kerry aides say he will spend $1.5 million on TV ads in Ohio, Georgia and upstate New York through Tuesday, but as of yesterday he had bought less than half of that amount. Mr. Edwards was boosting his advertising buys in those states to match Mr. Kerry’s. Both were spending the most in Ohio.

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