Tags: Dean | Admits | He'll | Break | Promise | Quit | After

Dean Admits He'll Break to Promise to Quit After Wisconsin

Tuesday, 17 February 2004 12:00 AM

MILWAUKEE – Democrat front-runner John Kerry looked to Wisconsin on Tuesday for a victory to snuff out the struggling campaign of Howard Dean, who denied that his organization was in turmoil and that a loss would end his bid for the nomination.

"We're moving forward, and we're going to go to Super Tuesday and on beyond that. We have very strong field organizations," Dean told "Today" on NBC. "I think there needs to be a continued debate in the party about what we're doing."

Kerry appeared confident as polls in Wisconsin showed him with a comfortable lead over Dean and John Edwards, his other major rival for the state's 72 delegates. Dean's own national chairman, Steve Grossman,

Dean declined to say Tuesday whether Grossman had quit or had been fired after telling reporters that Dean was likely to leave the race if he lost in Wisconsin. Instead, Dean contended his campaign remained solid with more delegates than anyone but Kerry, the strongest presence in Wisconsin of any candidate, and a better infrastructure than any other campaign for the Super Tuesday contests March 2.

"We have an enormous base of grassroots support who wants to fundamentally change America," Dean said. "We've struggled with fundamentally changing the Democratic Party. Many of the folks now running, including Senator Kerry, have adopted our positions on many issues, and I think that's terrific. We intend to have real change in Washington, and that's what this campaign's about. And we can't get there by quitting."

Kerry continued to ignore Dean and Edwards as he criticized President Bush, labeling the president missing in action on the economy. He ridiculed the president on Monday for taking a trip to the Daytona 500 auto race in Florida at a time when the economy should have his undivided attention.

"We don't need a president who just says, 'Gentlemen, start your engines,'" Kerry said. "We need a president who says, 'America, let's start our economy and put people back to work.'"

Edwards said he would sharpen the differences he has with all of his rivals and argued that he was in the race for the long haul. He said it was not too late for a surge in polls that have given Kerry a wide lead in the latest primary test.

"It's not too late because this primary process is going well into March," Edwards said. "I want the voters to know what the differences are between us."

The Democrat rivals swept across Wisconsin on the eve of a primary that could offer the last chance to blunt the momentum that Kerry has built in piling up 14 wins in the first 16 contests.

The departure of Grossman obscured Dean's message in a state with a tradition of supporting liberals, mavericks and Washington outsiders, a state Dean has said he badly needed to bounce back from a long string of losses.

The move was the second shake-up in recent weeks in a campaign that had been the presumptive front-runner but then failed to win a single primary or caucus. Former campaign manager Joe Trippi was forced out earlier.

Edwards tried to sharpen the differences he has with Kerry and Dean on trade issues, and he said it would be easier to get his message out now that the Democrat field has shrunk to half the size it began with.

"Voters will get a better sense of who we are and what the differences are between us," said Edwards.

Edwards was making plans for a campaign post-Wisconsin, scheduling a fund-raiser in New York for Wednesday night and announcing plans for a three-day swing through five states that will hold primaries on Super Tuesday.

He said trade could be a powerful issue in Wisconsin, where more than 74,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost, with many blaming the decline on companies shipping jobs overseas to take advantage of cheap labor.

That, however, was all based on the assumption that he scores well enough in Wisconsin to continue to be a force in the Democrat primaries. Though he was generally upbeat, Dean's future was in doubt. Aides described him as torn between reaching a pragmatic conclusion that the campaign is coming to a close, and his emotional attachment to a race in which he's been running for well over a year.

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MILWAUKEE - Democrat front-runner John Kerry looked to Wisconsin on Tuesday for a victory to snuff out the struggling campaign of Howard Dean, who denied that his organization was in turmoil and that a loss would end his bid for the nomination. "We're moving forward,...
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2004-00-17
Tuesday, 17 February 2004 12:00 AM
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