In yesterday's Super Tuesday primaries, Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Goe soundly defeated their opponents. Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush all but ended the battles for their respective parties' nominations last night with decisive victories in a series of primaries across the country. Challengers Bill Bradley and John McCain needed major wins in yesterday's Super Tuesday primaries to sustain their beleaguered campaigns. But both failed to achieve the victories considered necessary for them to stay competitive, propelling their opponents into positions of even greater dominance and leaving the future of their respective bids in serious doubt. On the Republican side, Bush soundly defeated McCain in seven of the day's 11 major GOP contests, most notably sweeping the crucial delegate battlegrounds of California, New York and Ohio. He supplemented those gains with wins in Georgia, Maine, Maryland and Missouri. McCain, whose insurgent bid had challenged Bush's dominance with wins in New Hampshire and Michigan, managed to eek out small victories in four New England states -- Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont. Bush now holds a substantial edge in delegates to this summer's Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. Last night, he picked up an additional 347 delegates, bringing his total to 517 of the 1,034 needed to win the nomination. McCain garnered 117, bringing his total count to 222. The results were even more punishing for Bradley. The one-time Princeton and New York Knicks basketball star and three-term Democratic senator from New Jersey failed to win even one state delegation from the heavily favored vice president. Though he has picked up delegates in non-winner-take-all states, Bradley has yet to win a single state contest from Vice President Al Gore. His total now stands at 284 of the 2,170 votes needed to win the Democratic nomination. Gore has 975 delegates. In Democratic exit polling, African Americans preferred Gore over Bradley by a margin of six-to-one, and Latinos by eight-to-one. The margin among union members was smaller, but still a healthy three-to-one. Gore also won the vote of independents, a key element of Bradley's electoral strategy, and a group that the Democratic nominee will need in the general election race. The exit polling was conducted by Voter News Service, a consortium of The Associated Press and television networks. Exit surveys across the states showed women preferring Bush by a two-to-one margin over McCain. Among age groups, McCain carried only younger voters; those over 30 voted for Bush. Among Catholics, the vote was split evenly between the two candidates. And by a big margin, the voters said McCain was more likely than Bush to say what he believes. Now, as the primary season moves in the coming weeks on to the southern states -- areas where Bush and Gore are expected to dominate -- speculation continues to swirl as to when the two underdog candidates might concede their races. "We're very pleased with the victories we won and disappointed with the ones we lost," McCain said shortly after calling Bush to offer his congratulations. He later told supporters that he and the Texas governor "may meet again," leaving the door open for a possible departure from the race. One senior adviser said that he expects the Arizona senator to announce his withdrawal from the race tomorrow, but added that no firm plans had yet been made. McCain said he would take stock of his campaign today when he travels to his retreat in Arizona. Some aides planned to recommend that the senator depart the race, while others looked for him to forge on to the nine primaries coming up in the next week. McCain's strength so far has been his ability to attract Democratic and Independent voters who don't usually vote Republican. But in recent days McCain has pledged to support Bush if he were to become the nominee, putting a damper on speculation that he might consider a third-party bid. Bradley addressed a crowd of supporters in New York, taking credit for launching "the beginning of a new politics," and recognizing his followers for pushing such issues as gun violence, poverty and campaign finance reform into the national spotlight. "He won, I lost," Bradley said last night, all but conceding the end of the race. He said he would consult with aides over the next few days regarding the future of his campaign and make an announcement sometime in the next week. For the victors of yesterday's primary battles, though, the campaign focus now shifts from the primaries to the general election showdown in November. As Bush and Gore addressed their respective crowds last night, the target of their comments noticeably shifted away from their party opponents and instead, toward each other. "Our campaign is your cause," Gore told a crowd of supporters in his home state of Tennessee. "We are the party of the mainstream. We appeal to hope, not anger, not to exclusion. He continued by saying his approach was the right one to continue the current economic expansion begun under Bill Clinton -- the only time he used the president's name. In an unnamed reference to Bush's policies, he cautioned against "wasting the surplus on a risky tax scheme." Looking ahead to a potential fight with Gore, Bush congratulated the vice president for his victories in the Democratic primaries, but said, "He is the candidate of the status quo in Washington, D.C., and he has a tough case to make in the general election." Bush continued by saying, "My frame of mind is to keep moving. Soon our party will unite and turn to the main task at hand -- ending the era of Clinton-Gore." The Associated Press contributed to this story.Comments powered by Disqus
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