The Democratic candidates have only one day left before voters in 10 states go to the polls for "Super Tuesday."
On the campaign trail, front-runner John Kerry (search) continued to take shots at President Bush while ignoring his No. 1 rival, John Edwards (search), while Edwards himself tried to convince people he was the best person to run against the incumbent despite the polls saying otherwise.
Considered the mother lode of the Democratic primary season, Super Tuesday (search) offers up 1,151 delegates for the candidates to try to win. That's more than half the 2,162 needed to win the Democratic presidential nomination. A Tuesday sweep could give Kerry more than 1,500 delegates.
Edwards, the North Carolina senator, already has virtually ceded the four New England states to Kerry, a Massachusetts senator, and stands little chance of victory in the biggest battlegrounds — Maryland, New York and California. That leaves Georgia, Ohio and Minnesota as Edwards' targets. But polls show him trailing in those states.
Edwards is hoping to win enough victories Tuesday to keep his candidacy alive until March 9, when four more Southern states vote. However, the South Carolina-born senator is considered a long shot in that region.
"At some point I've got to start getting more delegates or I'm not going to be the nominee," Edwards told reporters on Monday. He wouldn't predict victory in Ohio, virtually a must-win state for him, but he did acknowledged Kerry's dominance.
"There's no question that national momentum has an impact on these races," Edwards said.
Although Edwards' optimism may be appealing, many are being realistic about his chances.
"John Edwards got some enthusiasm and some excitement but it doesn't seem like he can topple Kerry in these states," Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty told Fox News on Monday.
"I think it's wrapped up already," said Democratic strategist James Carville, who was an aide to Bill Clinton during his 1992 candidacy. "At some point, he runs a risk of being disrespectful to Democratic voters."
Edwards' camp has consistently declined to say how many states he needs to win Tuesday but has simply vowed to stay in the race until he's nominated.
Kerry has won 18 of 20 delegate-selection contests so far. Edwards has won only in his native South Carolina.
"I think he's [Kerry] gonna win every state except possibly Georgia, but I think he'll win even Georgia," Ed Rollins, a Republican strategist who ran Ronald Reagan's re-election campaign in 1984, told Fox News.
As for Edwards, Rollins said: "I think he's finished."
Kerry was making campaign swings through Baltimore, Columbus, Ohio and Atlanta, then the Bronx in New York City on Monday. Next week, he plans to campaign in Texas, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, which hold elections March 9. Florida and Louisiana are potential fall battlegrounds, while Texas is a major fund-raising hotspot.
Edwards was touring cities in Ohio, including Toledo, Dayton and Cleveland. He then heads to Macon, Ga., where he'll be joined by the band Hootie and the Blowfish (search).
'Send Him Back to Texas'
Meanwhile, the front-runner assumed the presumptive nominee position and continued to take on the current White House resident while ignoring Edwards.
"There's a better way to make America safe than this president has chosen," Kerry said in Baltimore on Monday. "This president has actually created terrorists where they did not exist."
At Morgan State University (search), a historically black college in Baltimore, Kerry said the president is dividing the nation.
"We ought to subtract George Bush from the political equation of the United States," he said.
"This isn't going to be some kind of we're-like-them, they're-like-us kind, wishy-washy, mealy-mouthed, you can't tell the difference deal," Kerry said of the general election, referring to Democrats being voiceless on foreign policy. Comparisons to former candidate Howard Dean's anti-establishment message, however, were clear.
Kerry promised to fight Bush policies on taxes, education, health care and terrorism.
After taking months of beatings from his Democratic rivals, Bush and the Republicans are now upping the ante and going all out in a multimillion-dollar ad campaign on Thursday. The Bush re-election machine has about $140 million to spend on advertising and making sure the president's message gets out. Kerry knows he can't match that.
"I need your help," Kerry told the audience at Morgan State University. "Send him back to Texas."
But in a speech to supporters at the University of Toledo, Edwards criticized "that crowd of insiders in Washington" and repeated that he is the candidate best able to defeat Bush in November.
"This is the guy who is actually beating Bush in polls all across right America right now," Edwards said of himself, ignoring the fact that Kerry — not Edwards — is winning in polls surveying who would win in a head-to-head matchup with Bush.
Republicans are also about to push full-steam ahead on a plan to register 3 million voters with the help of an 18-wheeler full of computers, plasma TVs and multimedia equipment designed to communicate their message.
"We want to bring new people into the party … Especially young people and people who are not traditionally Republican voters" such as Hispanics and blacks, said Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie.
He said the GOP voter drive has already registered about 500,000 new voters at various events, including the Daytona 500.
"I think focusing on the area of strong leadership in these changing times is his [Bush's] strong point," Pawlenty said. "I think people respect that and that should bode well with people if he can drive that home."
Edwards was endorsed by the Cincinnati Enquirer, southwest Ohio's leading newspaper. The Plain Dealer in Cleveland endorsed Kerry, saying in a Monday editorial that his understanding of the nation's standing with other countries would make him a stronger nominee than Edwards.
Kerry also received the backing of New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey (search) and other Democratic leaders from the Garden State.
Democratic Party chairman Terry McAuliffe (search), meanwhile, repeated previous sentiments that he wants to have a presumptive nominee in the next couple of weeks so the party can launch its formal response to Bush's multimillion-dollar ad barrage, which begins Thursday.
"We need, at some point, to be unified," McAuliffe said.
Fox News' Carl Cameron, Kelly Wright and The Associated Press contributed to this report.