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Veepstakes: Edwards the most likely VP nominee users predict Kerry will pick N.C. senator

(CNN) -- More than two months after he halted his own presidential bid, Sen. John Edwards has been chosen by users as the Democrats’ most likely vice presidential nominee.

A 15-day survey of 54,385 users indicated that Edwards -- besting 31 contenders -- is the person whom presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry will most likely select to round out his presidential ticket.

Edwards defeated Wesley Clark, a retired four-star general and another 2004 Democratic presidential primary contender, 62 percent to 38 percent in the contest's fifth and final round. (View full game card)

"Sen. Edwards is doing everything he can to elect Sen. Kerry and will continue to do so," said Kim Rubey, an Edwards' spokesperson, in response to the Veepstakes' results.

While he is not seeking a second term in the U.S. Senate, Edwards has been traveling the country -- including recent visits to Cleveland, Ohio, and Duluth, Minnesota -- to boost fellow Democrats.

Many of these trips, said Rubey, have been taken at the request of Kerry's campaign. But, while stumping hard for his Senate colleague, Edwards has consistently refused to discuss his possible interest in the vice presidency.

The North Carolina native surged in early 2004 to become Kerry's chief Democratic rival late in the primary season. Kerry cinched the party's presidential nomination only after Edwards ended his campaign after the March 2 "Super Tuesday" primaries.

The contest, dubbed "Veepstakes," began May 3 just after midnight and ended late on May 17. Thirty-two candidates, selected by CNN political experts, were split into four brackets: Southern, women's, "showdown state" and "gravitas" divisions.

Edwards cruised through the first round, trouncing Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina with 95 percent of the vote, before likewise leveling Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, 90 percent to 10 percent.

The freshman senator continued his winning ways in "Round 3," decisively defeating Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia with 87 percent support to sweep the "Southern" division.

This led to a showdown with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson -- a former congressman, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, energy secretary and the victor in the "Showdown State" bracket. Despite Richardson's impressive resume, Edwards won easily by garnering nearly three-quarters of the Veepstakes vote.

Clark, meanwhile, emerged from the "gravitas" division -- an eclectic mix of present and former politicians who merited consideration because of their experience, charisma and background -- to challenge Edwards in the finals.

The one-time NATO supreme commander began the Veepstakes campaign by trumping fellow Arkansas native and former President Bill Clinton. He then bested top seed Rep. Dick Gephardt, with 61 percent of the vote. Clark beat Sen. John McCain, a maverick Republican from Arizona, by a similar margin to win his bracket and reach the semifinals.

There, he met Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, who took the women's category. The ex-general easily defeated the former first lady, who only mustered 31 percent support, setting up the final matchup with Edwards.'s Veepstakes contest holds special significance with Kerry, who topped all other competitors in the 2000 survey of then-Democratic nominee Al Gore's most likely running mates. But, while Kerry made the short list of vice presidential picks, Gore chose Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

That same year, Veepstakes players tabbed J.C. Watts, then a U.S. representative from Oklahoma, over Colin Powell as the man then-Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush would most likely pick as his vice president. Bush selected Dick Cheney before narrowly winning that year's election.

In 1996, users -- in a game called "VPick" -- correctly predicted that Sen. Robert Dole would choose Sen. Jack Kemp of New York to fill out the GOP presidential ticket.

story.veepstakes.kerry-edwa.jpg users predicted Sen. John Kerry, left, would select Sen. John Edwards as his running mate.

1. John Edwards
2. Bill Nelson
3. Max Cleland
4. John Breaux
5. Mark Warner
6. Phil Bredesen
7. Bob Graham
8. Jim Clyburn 

1. Bill Richardson
2. Tom Vilsack
3. Evan Bayh
4. Russ Feingold
5. James Doyle
6. Jay Rockefeller
7. Ed Rendell
8. Gary Locke

1. Dick Gephardt
2. Wesley Clark
3. Bob Kerrey
4. John McCain
5. Tom Brokaw
6. Sam Nunn
7. Bill Clinton
8. Joe Biden

1. Hillary Clinton
2. Janet Napolitano
3. Mary Landrieu
4. Debbie Stabenow
5. Kathleen Sebelius
6. Blanche Lincoln
7. Dianne Feinstein
8. Ann Richards

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