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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 March, 2004, 06:46 GMT
Kerry faces long battle with Bush

By Rob Watson
BBC correspondent in Washington

Senator John Kerry campaigns in Georgia before Super Tuesday
Wrapping up the race gives Kerry a chance to recharge
In the end, Super Tuesday ended up being a coronation for John Kerry.

To some extent, one could have anticipated this. No candidate in the modern era has ever been so far ahead as Mr Kerry and gone on to lose.

The real question was when John Kerry would win - not whether he would win.

John Edwards would have had to win in at least two or three states to justify staying in the race.

He particularly needed to do well in Georgia - the only southern state voting on Tuesday - because his campaign was based on the idea that he could win in the south where the Democrats have had so much trouble in the last two decades.

The writing was on the wall, and many people in the Democratic Party were saying to Mr Edwards that he could not keep running if he kept coming in second.

Instead of Mr Edwards winning two or three states, John Kerry rolled to victory winning in nine of the 10 Super Tuesday states.

Long road ahead

On the one hand, there is no doubt that winning on Super Tuesday has been great for John Kerry.

John Edwards rallies his supporters in Atlanta
Many Democrats see a Kerry-Edwards ticket as a 'Dream Team'
In the first place, the candidate is tired. People have said that he is hoarse, that he looked like he needed a rest.

He really wanted to put this nomination to rest just so that he could recharge his batteries.

Perhaps, more importantly, he was very anxious to conserve his funds because it was costing him a lot of money to continue campaigning against his Democratic challengers.

Money is not in large supply for Senator Kerry, and President Bush is going to be the best financed candidate in the history of American presidential elections.

However, there is a theory amongst some in the Democratic Party that there is a downside to Senator Kerry winning so early.

The downside is that it gives President Bush a long time - six months - to define Senator Kerry, to attack him, to use his huge war chest to go after him.

Although the Kerry campaign is very relieved to have this nomination battle out of the way, it now means that they will be open for many months to attacks from the Republicans.

The Bush White House will not waste any time with this - those attacks will start later this week.

Picking a winning ticket

And with the nomination battle over, pundits quickly turned to handicapping Mr Kerry's choice for a running mate.

The Kerry campaign has said it is that the most important thing in choosing a vice president is finding someone that Mr Kerry feels could take over the most powerful political job in the world should something happen to him.

John Edwards and John Kerry
Kerry and Edwards are not reported to get along especially well
Further down the list, Mr Kerry will consider how well he gets along personally with a potential running mate and what political advantage that person might bring.

That could be code for saying that Mr Edwards would not be the top choice.

After all, Mr Kerry has criticised him on the campaign for not being experienced enough - certainly in the area of foreign affairs.

But the Kerry campaign is keeping its options open.

One thing that many Democratic Party activists say is that Mr Kerry should choose someone who could guarantee him winning a state in the general election.

Perhaps, for example, he might choose Senator Bob Graham of Florida because winning that state will be key to winning the election.

Others have suggested Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who could help Mr Kerry win not only in New Mexico but who might also help him win the Hispanic vote in several key states.

And some have even suggested that Mr Kerry should pick another former primary opponent, Dick Gephardt, because it would help him in Missouri, a key battleground state in the Midwest.

But there is a feeling in Washington that Mr Kerry has not made these decisions yet.

He has not closed the option to choosing Mr Edwards, although they are reported not to get on especially well.

In the end, he will make the decision based on who would help him win the election in November.

And a lot of people think that person would be his former foe, John Edwards.

And you can put your questions to Rob Watson in a forum at 1500 GMT.

The BBC's Nick Higham
"The result of this year's election is very hard to call"


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