Although five presidential candidates competed in the Iowa
Democratic caucuses yesterday, only four of those contestants say
they have emerged with relative victories.

Amita Madan
DAVID TUMAN/Daily
Presidential candidate John Kerry, who surprised the country by winning the Iowa caucuses, addressed Iowa residents at a rally held in the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines on Sunday night.

After two candidates who had lagged in the polls until recently
took first and second place in the voting, U.S. Rep. Richard
Gephardt’s (D-Mo.) campaign came to an end and presumed
national front-runner Howard Dean suffered a major setback.

Capitalizing on last-minute campaign drives before the caucuses,
U.S. Sen. John Kerry from Massachusetts, trailed closely by John
Edwards of North Carolina, gathered the support of more
caucus-goers than expected.

Kerry leaves Iowa with the greatest number of delegates
representing him in an upcoming statewide convention —
garnering 37.6 percent of the 3,000 state delegates. Delegates
attending the statewide convention will then nominate
representatives to the Democratic National Convention in July,
where they will each push to make their candidate the Democratic
nominee for the presidency.

Kerry, who lagged behind counterparts former Vermont Gov. Howard
Dean and retired Gen. Wesley Clark in polls conducted last year,
has added new life to his campaign following the caucuses, Edwards
sounded equally optimistic.

“The people of Iowa have confirmed that they believe in
the uplifting politics of hope,” Edwards said.

Kerry and Edward’s underdog victory sheds new light on
Dean’s candidacy, which has slowed somewhat in the wake of a
third-place finish in the caucuses and abrasive television
advertisements run against him in this state.

“There’s been a lot of criticism focused on him and
not the other candidates,” said Brian Vetruba, a St. Louis
librarian who traveled to Iowa to rally for Dean. “And also I
think some of the other candidates have run negative ads against
him.”

But Dean and his followers said they took their finish as a
“motivating factor” and look forward to the New
Hampshire primaries next Saturday. Currently, Dean has an
eight-percent lead over Clark for voter support.

“If you had told us one year ago we would have come third
in Iowa, we would have given anything for that,” Dean said in
a post-caucuses party. The most recent Iowa Poll showed Dean
trailing Kerry Edwards at 20 percent.

“It’s sort of better than what we hoped for six
months ago, less what we hoped for six weeks ago,” said U.S.
Sen. Tom Harkin, who last week endorsed Dean for the
presidency.

Even U.S. Rep Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, who gained only 1 percent
of state delegate equivalence last night, has not pulled back from
the race, unlike Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt, who withdrew after an
11-percent, fourth-place finish here in Iowa.

Less than an hour before the caucuses were called to order,
Edwards and Kucinich agreed to encourage their caucus base to
support one another in the event that one candidate did not achieve
the threshold volume in certain caucuses.

“There were candidates in the race that were expected to
do better in Iowa who didn’t do so well, so I think they
means is the race is up for grabs and there’s still 49 states
to go,” said John Friedrich, Kucinich’s Iowa political
director.”

While Dean and Edwards still have enough energy in other states
to see victories to see other caucuses or primaries, Gephardt has
channeled much of his vigor toward Iowa. Recent New Hampshire polls
showed him in single digits in terms of voter support. Gephardt
said he has not decided whether to endorse a candidate.

Not since 1976, when Jimmy Carter was elected president, have
the Iowa caucuses predicted a president yet their significance, is
not artificial.

“Iowa is going to have a critical role,” said Terry
McCullough, chair of the Nation Democratic party. “By
February 3, I think we’re going to have it down to a few
candidates.”

About 120,000 people turned out in this year’s caucuses
compared to 60,000 in previous caucuses.

“What Iowa does is to separate the stronger contenders
from the weaker ones,” said Peverill Squire, Political
Science Prof. At the University of Iowa. “If you look at the
history on the Democratic side, the nominee has already come out of
the top three candidates.”

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