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Inside Politics

Bush wins second term as Kerry concedes

Democrat's team makes decision after looking at Ohio numbers

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America Votes 2004
George W. Bush
John F. Kerry

(CNN) -- President Bush plans to declare victory Wednesday after Sen. John Kerry conceded the election, aides to both men said.

As in the 2000 race, the election came down to a single state.

Ohio's 20 electoral votes proved decisive when it grew clear Wednesday morning that Bush's lead in the state was unlikely to be erased by provisional and absentee ballots. Those votes are still being counted.

A Bush win in Ohio would give the president a projected 274 electoral votes -- 270 are needed to win. ( Electoral College)

Kerry is set to speak about 2 p.m. ET to offer his concession in front of Faneuil Hall in Boston, Massachusetts. Bush plans his acceptance speech for 3 p.m. ET at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington.

Kerry telephoned the White House late Wednesday morning after he and his campaign team looked over voting numbers from Ohio and made the decision to concede.

Officials said Bush and Kerry agreed during their phone call that the divided nation needs to heal. Bush aides said the president will commit to reaching out to Democrats.

But White House aides said the president also will say that his majority-vote win -- he is the first to win the presidency with more than 50 percent of the vote since his father in 1988 -- is an indicator that the country is more united now than it was four years ago, when he lost the popular vote to Al Gore.

GOP solidifies control

This election tips the balance of power decisively into the Republican corner in Washington. The party wins larger margins in the Senate and House of Representatives as well as a second term for Bush, ahead in the popular vote by more than 3.7 million votes.

The Bush campaign was convinced the president had won re-election, but White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said Wednesday that Bush "decided to give Sen. Kerry the respect of more time to reflect on the results of election."

Card said that Bush's lead was "insurmountable" in Ohio.

Speaking to GOP supporters at the Reagan building, Card said wins in Ohio, Iowa and New Mexico would give the president "at least 286 Electoral College votes."

With those three states undeclared, Bush has 28 states in the win column for 254 electoral votes, and Kerry has 20 states for 252 votes. Iowa's seven votes and New Mexico's five would have put neither man over the top, leaving Ohio to make the difference.

Democrats had hoped enough provisional and absentee ballots might be available to overcome Bush in Ohio.

Bush led Kerry by about 136,000 votes in Ohio, with 100 percent of precincts reporting.

CNN had not called the Buckeye State by early Wednesday afternoon.

Early Wednesday, Kerry's running mate, Sen. John Edwards, said the campaign would "fight for every vote."

"We've waited four years for this victory," Edwards, told supporters in Boston, Massachusetts. "We can wait one more night."

"John Kerry and I made a promise to the American people that, with this election, every vote would count and every vote would be counted," Edwards told a crowd in Boston's Copley Square that had hoped to hear a Kerry victory speech.

Besides Ohio, CNN has not projected the winner in Iowa and New Mexico.

With all but one of 99 Iowa counties reporting, Bush was leading Kerry 742,449 to 729,533. The missing county -- Greene -- is small, with 4,721 voters in 2000, not nearly enough to change the statewide total.

But other uncertainties could affect who gets the state's seven electoral votes: As many as 60,000 absentee ballots can still be counted so long as they are received by noon Monday. And the fate of about 10,000 provisional ballots has yet to be determined.

No provisional ballots have been counted in the 33 counties of New Mexico, where Bush held a 14,319-vote lead. Additionally, absentee votes in Dona Ana County (Las Cruces) were waiting until 2 p.m. ET Wednesday for a replacement counting machine, and another 6,000 absentee ballots in Bernalillo County (Albuquerque) were being hand-fed after they were rejected by a machine count.

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