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Gore, Bush post impressive Super Tuesday victories

March 8, 2000
Web posted at: 2:42 p.m. EST (1942 GMT)

ATLANTA (CNN) -- A November general election contest between Democrat Vice President Al Gore and Republican Texas Gov. George W. Bush appears to be on the horizon after both posted strong wins in the Super Tuesday national primary.

View the latest results and exit polls from Tuesday's elections.

In this story:

Gore: 'I've learned from my mistakes'
The Democratic shakeout
Bush sets sights on Clinton, Gore
Religious right may have been factor

Gore swept his fierce Democratic challenger, former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, in every Democratic Party contest. Gore won primaries in the vital states of California, New York and Ohio, while he was also victorious in Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Georgia, Maryland, Maine and Missouri -- Bradley's home state.

As a result, Bradley will announce his decision to withdraw from the Democratic race at a news conference scheduled for Thursday, an adviser told CNN Wednesday.

Gore also won the Democratic caucuses in North Dakota, Idaho, Washington state, Hawaii and American Samoa.

Bush drew hundreds of delegates away from an expectant Sen. John McCain of Arizona on Tuesday night, taking the essential states of California, New York and Ohio.

Vice President Al Gore swept every Democratic primary in the Super Tuesday contest.  

He also won in Georgia, Maryland, Maine and Missouri. McCain did win several primaries in New England on Tuesday night, including contests in Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Gore's bountiful day yielded a significant electoral accomplishment. According to Jeff Greenfield, political analyst for CNN, Gore could become the first non-incumbent of any U.S. political party to win every pre-general election contest.

Bradley, who had banked on support in Missouri, pockets of New England and in New York -- where he played championship-level basketball with the New York Knicks in the 1960s and 70s -- suffered a paralyzing blow at Gore's hands.

As of Wednesday morning, Gore possessed 1,421 of the 2,170 delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination -- Bradley held 411. There will be 4,338 delegate votes at the Democratic National Convention.

Gore: 'I've learned from my mistakes'

Gore, looking ahead to an expected campaign against Bush, said Wednesday he'll make campaign finance reform one of his key issues.

But the reform emphasis is a gamble for the vice president, whose friend, Maria Hsia, was convicted last week of campaign finance crimes that brought Gore's 1996 fund-raiser at a Buddhist temple in California back into headlines.

"I've learned from my mistakes," Gore told CNN. "And like John McCain, I bring the passionate commitment, borne of personal experience, to the cause of campaign finance reform."

Despite Super Tuesday victories for McCain, his campaign appeared to be on life support. Aides to the Arizona senator told CNN's John King late Tuesday night that the delegate math "appeared devastating," and many advisers to McCain were urging the senator to abandon his effort.

Former Sen. Bill Bradley conceded defeat to the vice president.  

McCain was set to convene a meeting of advisers Wednesday in Arizona to assess his next move.

As of Wednesday morning, Bush held 681 of the 1,034 Republican delegates needed to nominate, to McCain's 225 delegates. There are 2,066 Republican delegates.

The Democratic shakeout

"My heart is full tonight," Gore said Tuesday night in Tennessee. "This is your victory, too," he told a crowd of supporters.

Gore said he received a "gracious" telephone call from Bradley, just moments before addressing the crowd, and he spoke in generous, effusive tones about his once-bitter party rival.

"I have been moved and touched by the strength of (Bradley's) commitment to healing divisions in this country," Gore said. "Tonight I salute Bill Bradley and his wife, Ernestine Bradley."

Tuesday night, Bradley spoke like a man about to end his presidential campaign. Addressing a throng of supporters in New York, Bradley said Gore "won, and I lost," adding a quote from legendary football coach Vince Lombardi -- "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing."

Bradley said he would meet with core advisers Wednesday and make his "intentions known shortly." Still, Bradley said that he and his campaign workers had much of which to be proud.

"Despite the lack of victory tonight ... We shaped the national debate and brought Democratic issues to the fore," Bradley said.

Bradley had been out of bed early on Tuesday, and spent much of the morning shaking hands and signing autographs on the streets of New York.

He was received warmly by those he encountered Tuesday morning. One supporter, seated at a Manhattan bagel shop, told Bradley, "It ain't over till it's over," to which Bradley replied, "I appreciate that."

But now, it would appear to be over for the Democratic challenger. He did not win any key New England states, nor did he carry a majority of core Democrats, whose support he needed desperately. Organized labor, which had fallen in behind Gore early in the process, stayed with vice president Tuesday -- dealing a deadly blow to Bradley.

"Bradley did best among anti-Clinton Democrats," said CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider in reference to party members who may have been frustrated with the many scandals surrounding the Clinton White House.

Gov. George W. Bush beat Sen. John McCain in key Republican primary contests Tuesday.  

"The problem is, there wasn't enough of them," Schneider said.

Bradley also did not do so well with the minority vote, a bloc he had courted aggressively. For example, Schneider said a full 89 percent of the African-American vote in Georgia went to Gore, with only 8 percent going to Bradley.

Bush sets sights on Clinton, Gore

Bush appeared before an enthusiastic crowd of supporters late Tuesday night in the Texas state capital, Austin, and immediately set about his task of setting the Clinton-Gore administration in a negative light, after handily dispatching the once formidable McCain maverick campaign effort.

"Tonight we have good news from sea to shining sea," he said. "We promised a national campaign, and tonight we have a national victory."

"I congratulate (Gore), and I look forward to the contest," Bush said. "He is for the status quo in Washington, D.C., and he's going to have a tough case to make."

Bush spoke to CNN of closing any divides in the Republican Party that may have been wrenched open by his rivalry with McCain.

"There is plenty of time for us to come together," said Bush from the governor's mansion in Austin. "Campaigns are tough, but the competition has been good for me."

"I understand politics," Bush added. "This campaign hasn't been any rougher than others I have seen. Now, we have to get ready to win the White House."

Still, Bush expressed some sense that McCain was not likely to throw in the towel just yet. "The nomination is not yet secure," he said. "There are other states ahead and I am looking forward to campaigning in them."

McCain: "Our crusade continues tonight, tomorrow and into the next day."  

But the signals from McCain were murky at best. In a speech to a raucous crowd of supporters in Los Angeles late Tuesday night, he seemed to be prepping his backers for a dignified withdrawal, saying he would assess his future as a candidate for the next day or two.

"We may meet in primaries in the a few days from now," McCain said of Bush. "We won a few and we lost a few today. Over the next few days, we will take stock of our wins and our losses."

Still, McCain dropped large hints that if he were to abandon his quest for the White House, he would continue, or perhaps intensify, his efforts to bring about reform in the halls of government, and in his own party.

"Our crusade continues tonight, tomorrow and into the next day," he said, "as long as it takes to restore Americans' confidence and pride in the institutions of our great democracy."

"The Republican primary needs to recover its purpose. That is the primary purpose of our campaign, and I have no intention of ever surrendering it."

Religious right may have been factor

The mood in the McCain inner circle was described throughout the night as glum and despondent by CNN Senior White House Correspondent John King, who reported that one McCain aide said early in the evening, "This night has just gone from bad to worse."

A primary explanation for McCain's devastating performance on Tuesday could have been the ire raised in the religious right by the Arizona senator after he characterized the Revs. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as "divisive" elements within the Republican Party.

Schneider said exit polling data culled Tuesday night indicated McCain's comments may have brought the religious right out in droves to hand him a setback, while the non-religious portions of the party did not rise up and respond.

Robertson, appearing on CNN, said he thought McCain "energized the religious base of the party in a way that George Bush could not. He's handed George Bush a tremendous gift."

VideoRepublican presidential candidate Senator John McCain speaks to supporters in Los Angeles.

Windows Media 28K | 80K
VideoRepublican presidential candidate Gov. George W. Bush

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VideoRepublican presidential candidate George W. Bush is interviewed on CNN.

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VideoLarry King interviews Vice President Al Gore about Super Tuesday primary results.

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VideoDemocratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley addresses campaign supporters in New York.

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VideoVice President Al Gore addresses supporters in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Wednesday, March 8, 2000


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