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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 February, 2004, 06:30 GMT
Kerry looks ahead to Bush

By Rob Watson
BBC Washington correspondent

If John Kerry looked very hard to beat before primaries in Tennessee and Virginia, he now looks completely unstoppable.

John Kerry greets students outside the Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax Station, Va.
Kerry is now winning in 12 out of 14 states
As he had said in his victory speech on Tuesday night, he had won in the East, the West and the North, and now he had won in the South.

As a front runner, John Kerry has already been campaigning more against President Bush than his Democratic challenger.

Democratic attacks, a poorly received State of the Union address and questions of credibility have led the president to launch his re-election campaign earlier than the Republicans had wanted.

Winning in the South

John Kerry has now shown that although he is a senator from the northeast, he can appeal to voters in the South. That is a huge development.

Now, nothing short of some shocking revelation - some financial or sexual scandal or revelations of treason - can stop John Kerry from winning the Democratic Party nomination.

That is how much of a certainty it is.

Wesley Clark was the lone casualty of the night.

As a general, he knows that you can't win the war if you keep losing every battle. He had to go.

Who goes next?

The question hanging over the next several weeks is when the other challengers leave the race.

It doesn't seem the others have a realistic chance of beating John Kerry so it is just a matter of time.

Former front runner Howard Dean had originally said that Wisconsin was a must-win state for him or he would leave the race.

John Edwards
John Edwards wants to be the last man standing against John Kerry
But despite two fourth place showings in Tennessee and Virginia, he has said that he will carry on past Wisconsin no matter what the outcome.

Senator John Edwards wants to be the last man standing against John Kerry.

Now, everyone is looking to 2 March, Super Tuesday, with 13 contests including the primaries in California, New York, Georgia, Ohio, Maryland and Minnesota.

It is very difficult seeing this race going on beyond then.

Kerry versus Bush

Senator John Kerry has shown that he has appeal with Democratic voters in the South, but winning a primary in the South doesn't mean that he will win there in the general election.

That is worth noting because in 2000, George W Bush made a clean sweep of the South.

John Kerry faces a long, long road ahead to win back to the South in the general election.

President Bush
On the defensive, President Bush has launched his campaign early
Something else to watch over the next few weeks is how John Kerry will conduct his campaign as he not only waits for his remaining Democratic challengers to fall but as his campaign focuses more and more on George W Bush.

From now on in, John Kerry will be planting his seeds of attack against the president in the general election.

The Bush White House had said that they would not begin campaigning until the Democrats had finished their process of selecting a nominee.

For obvious reasons, the president's strategy had been to want to look presidential, floating above the political fray.

His fortunes have taken such a downturn that, in fact, he has started to campaign already.

We saw the president give an hour-long interview on US television over the weekend, and he has agreed to an inquiry behind the decision to go to war in Iraq.

There is no doubt a sense at the White House believe that they are facing a very serious threat from the Democratic Party and John Kerry.

They know they have a real fight on their hands, and their campaign has started a little early than they had expected.

Kerry sets his stamp on the south
11 Feb 04  |  Americas

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