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Inside Politics

Kerry wins Iowa; Gephardt to bow out

Edwards in second place; Dean vows to fight on

John Kerry:
John Kerry: "Iowa, I love you."

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A fiery introduction from Sen. Edward Kennedy sets the stage for a victorious Sen. John Kerry to thank supporters in Iowa.
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Sen. John Edwards addresses his backers after finishing second in Iowa.
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Despite his third-place finish in Iowa, Howard Dean fires up his supporters, promising not to give up the fight.
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CNN's Jeanne Meserve on the Democrats' next battleground: New Hampshire.
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DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) -- Iowa Democrats upended the race for their party's presidential nomination Monday night, giving Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts a strong victory and dealing an apparently fatal blow to Rep. Dick Gephardt's run for the White House.

John Edwards, a first-term senator from North Carolina, managed a second-place finish, and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, an early favorite in the polls, was left in third place. Gephardt finished a distant fourth.

Standing on a stage in Des Moines before cheering supporters, the jubilant Kerry christened himself "comeback Kerry," echoing the "comeback kid" line President Clinton used to great effect while battling scandal during the 1992 primary season.

"Last night, the New England Patriots won. Tonight, this New Englander won, and you've sent me on the way to the Super Bowl," he said, in a raspy voice, strained by days of intense campaigning.

"I make you this pledge -- I have only just begun to fight," Kerry declared. He hurled hard words at the Bush administration, calling its foreign policy "arrogant, inept and reckless." (Full story)

Edwards, the first runner-up in Iowa, told his cheering supporters that they started "a movement to change this country that will sweep across America." (Full story)

Dean's third-place position in Iowa after being widely viewed as the national front-runner going into the caucuses will likely sap his momentum going into next week's New Hampshire primary. (Full story)

Gephardt, who was once battling Dean for supremacy in Iowa, indicated he was dropping out. (Full story)

"Life will go on because this campaign was never about me," a somber Gephardt told supporters, and he promised to support the party's nominee.

CNN has learned that Gephardt will announce he is dropping out of the race at 1 p.m. Tuesday (2 p.m. ET) at the Americas Center in downtown St. Louis, Missouri.

With 98 percent of the nearly 2,000 precincts reporting, Kerry won 38 percent of the state convention delegates, with 32 percent for Edwards, 18 percent for Dean and 11 percent for Gephardt, according to figures reported by the Iowa Democratic Party.

The race tightened in recent days, bringing suspense, surprise and electricity to the Democratic fight.

An estimated 100,000 to 125,000 Iowans braved single-digit temperatures across the state to attend their precinct caucuses.

The caucuses attracted considerable attention, but the state's selections don't always mesh with who wins either party's nomination.

For example, Gephardt won the Iowa caucuses in 1988 but lost the Democratic nomination to Michael Dukakis. That same year, Bob Dole won the GOP caucuses in Iowa, but the nomination went to George H.W. Bush -- father of the sitting president.

Dean tried to put the best spin on his finish. "We will not quit now or never. We want our country back for ordinary Americans," he shouted to supporters. (Full story)

The result was a clear disappointment for Gephardt. Industrial unions provided the backbone for his campaign in Iowa. A labor source told CNN it was "pretty clear" that he was not able to expand beyond that base.

"There wasn't the enthusiasm for Dick," the source said.

Once viewed as a two-way contest between Dean and Gephardt, the race changed significantly as Kerry and Edwards surged. (Full story)

Kerry's strong showing could call into question Dean's front-runner status -- as determined by various national polls, fund raising and endorsements -- and it likely elevates the importance of the primary in New Hampshire next Tuesday. (Analysts examine Iowa fallout)

Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio had 1 percent in the Iowa caucuses, and civil right activist the Rev. Al Sharpton trailed him.

Two other Democratic hopefuls -- retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, who places second to Dean in national polls, and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut -- skipped Iowa to concentrate on the New Hampshire primary. (CNN.com's interactive Election Calendar)


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