Edwards Calls It a Race
N.C. Senator Ends Bid for Democratic Presidental Nomination, Pledged Support for Sen. Kerry
By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 3, 2004; 5:50 PM
Sen. John Edwards formally ended his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination today and threw his support to the party's front-runner, Sen. John F. Kerry, praising him as a candidate who will fight for Democratic values and defeat President Bush in the November election.
"Today I've decided to suspend my campaign for the presidency of the United States," Edwards told supporters in a high school gym in his hometown of Raleigh.
The freshman senator from North Carolina, who emerged as the chief rival to his Senate colleague from Massachusetts during the campaign, lauded Kerry as "a friend of mine" and "somebody who I believe has great strength and great courage."
Referring to Kerry's service in the Vietnam War in the 1960s and his 19 years in the Senate, Edwards said his former rival is "somebody who has fought for, and will continue to fight for, the things that all of us believe in: more jobs, better health care, cleaner air, cleaner water, a safer world."
Edwards told the cheering crowd, "All these are the causes of our party, the Democratic Party. They are the causes of America, and they are the reasons we will prevail come November and take back this country."
Edwards said of Kerry, "I saw what he went through in November and December and back in the summer when everybody said he didn't have a chance. But he showed the strength, the resilience, the courage he has shown his entire life.
"The truth of the matter is that John Kerry has what it takes, right here, to be president of the United States," Edwards said. "And I for one intend to do everything in my power to make him the next president of the United States, and I ask you to join me in this cause for our country, for our America."
The ringing endorsement came a day after Edwards failed to win any of the 10 "Super Tuesday" nominating contests, losing to Kerry even in Georgia, a southern state and one of three that Edwards had targeted in hopes of keeping his candidacy alive. Faced with Kerry's rout, in which he won nine of the states holding Super Tuesday contests, Edwards decided last night to pull out of the race, aides said.
Touted as a potential vice presidential running mate for Kerry, Edwards did nothing today to dispel that notion. In fact, concluding his withdrawal speech with the rhetorical flourishes he has shown throughout the campaign, Edwards vowed: "We want to change America. We will change America. And we will create an America that finally, once and for all, works for everybody."
The 50-year-old former trial lawyer made the remarks in the school, Broughton High School, that two of his children attended. One of them, his son Wade, was killed in a car accident in 1996 at the age of 16 when he was a student at the school.
Edwards previously had announced plans not to seek reelection to the Senate seat he won in 1998 in his first run for public office. In his brief speech today, he did not address the question of what he intends to do now.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Edwards (N.C.) pauses during a speech in Raleigh, North Carolina. Edwards formally announced the end of his campaign Wednesday.
(Ellen Ozier - Reuters)