PLYMOUTH, N.H. – John Kerry (search) completed a one-two political punch, winning the New Hampshire primary just one week after turning up a surprisingly strong victory in the Iowa caucuses.
After all of the precincts reported Wednesday, the Massachusetts senator won 38 percent of the vote. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (search) took second place in the nation's first primary with 26 percent, retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark (search) eked out a third-place position with 12 percent of the vote, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (search) trailed Clark by only 839 votes to come in fourth and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (search) had 9 percent of the vote. Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich got 1 percent of the vote.
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"I love New Hampshire … and I love Iowa, too," Kerry said when he addressed supporters after being declared the winner. "Thank you, New Hampshire, for lifting up this campaign and the cause for an America that belongs not to the privileged, not to a few, but belongs to all Americans. This victory belongs to all of you."
When asked by Fox News' Greta Van Susteren if his win amounts to his history for being a "good finisher" in political races, Kerry said: "It means that I've had a tradition of coming on strong when it counts, towards the end."
He continued: "I think this victory really goes to the people of New Hampshire who listened carefully, who cared about this process and who most importantly, care about having someone who can beat George Bush"
Dean's campaign manager, Joe Trippi, earlier told Fox News that the Dean camp would be "ecstatic" if its candidate took second. But considering Dean had fallen from a double-digit lead in a matter of weeks, some political analysts suggested that disappointment is inevitable.
"Fifteen points can be seen as a blowout ... if [the margin with Kerry] stays in double digits, I think the Dean camp is going to have a hard time making the case that Dean is the comeback kid," said political analyst and Fox News contributor Susan Estrich in early reporting. "I don't think the Dean people want to see a double-digit margin, not at all."
Edwards told supporters that his showing is proof he's a candidate to be reckoned with.
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"Here in New Hampshire 10 days ago, we were 20 points behind General Clark and look at what we've done ... And now we're going to take this energy and momentum we saw in Iowa and this energy and momentum we saw in New Hampshire and we're going to take it right through Feb. 3," he said, referring to the next slew of primaries in one week's time.
Edwards later said in a television interview, that he does need to win South Carolina, where he is currently polling ahead. Kerry, however, has not yet set his focus on that state, and is expected to rise quickly.
Clark told supporters that a third or fourth-place victory can help him win the nomination.
"Never underestimate what a determined soldier can accomplish when he's fighting for his country," the retired Army general said. "We came into New Hampshire as one of the Elite Eight. We leave tonight as one of the Final Four."
New Hampshire has 22 pledged delegates to give as well as incalculable political momentum in the contest to pick a Democratic challenger to President Bush. Kerry won 13 delegates and Dean won 9, with 90 percent of the precincts reporting.
No Concessions Yet
Even before addressing his supporters in Manchester, Dean told Fox News that he's in the race for the long haul.
"We're very optimistic, I'm very pleased, actually," Dean said of his second-place showing. "Of course, I would have liked to win. I always play to win."
Dean said his campaign had strong support and grassroots organization in states like Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, California, Illinois and New York.
"We're going to be in every single state," he said, adding that he would travel to Missouri on Friday, the state where Kerry was focusing much of his energy. He also warned his rivals that he wouldn't go down without a fight.
"I'm looking forward to going on to the next 13 states … if you can't take the heat, as Harry Truman said, don't stay in the kitchen."
Dean earlier talked to Fox News' Alan Colmes about how tough the race for the Democratic nomination had been so far.
"It has been a rough campaign," said the doctor-turned-politician. "I think in the end, the party will come together because we all want to beat George Bush, and that's the important part."
Dean aides said their boss would not only start looking at how far he was trailing Kerry, but how far Edwards and Clark were behind them. They argue that the continuing race would be between Kerry and Dean, regardless of Tuesday's results.
"Dean doesn't strike me as the quitting kind no matter what. I think he thinks he's the leader of a great crusade," said Mort Kondracke, co-host of Fox News' "The Beltway Boys."
Not even the low-polling candidates are ready to drop out of the race.
"We are in a three-way split decision for third place," Lieberman told a cheering crowd Tuesday night as he spun the unofficial results in a positive light for his campaign. "Today, the people of New Hampshire put me in the ring and that's where we're going to stay."
"I see this as a 50-state race," Kucinich support, told Fox News. "By the time we get to convention … it's going to turn to the issue of Iraq ... it's going to be another type of debate and I don't think anybody's going in to the convention with 50 percent of the delegates ... so anyone has a shot at the nomination."
What Voters Want
According to exit polls conducted for Fox News by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International, Kerry had broad-based support among women and men of all age groups. His support was slightly higher among those whose financial situations have gotten worse in the last four years.
Kerry dominated among voters who decided whom they would back in the last week. By a 2-to-1 margin, voters said they backed Kerry because they think he can defeat Bush.
Dean ran strongly among liberals, war opponents, those angry at Bush and those who thought the most important candidate quality was standing up for what they believe. But he trailed Kerry among voters who most wanted an electable candidate with the most experience who had the best chance to beat Bush.
Among the one-third who said Dean does not have a presidential temperament, half voted for Kerry, about 20 percent favored Edwards and nearly all the rest split among Clark and Lieberman.
Edwards won support for having a positive message. Clark drew some strength from his opposition to the Iraq war.
The Next Big Get
Kerry was already looking ahead to the seven states that vote in the Feb. 3 primaries and planned TV advertising in all of them, particularly Missouri, the state with the most nominating delegates at stake that day.
Kerry's campaign released a statement Tuesday, saying the senator "has hit the ground running across America in his campaign to change the nation and send George Bush back to Texas" for the Feb. 3 states. The campaign will air new ads in each of the seven states starting on Wednesday.
Dean aides insisted they would fight to the finish even if it meant giving up paychecks to put the cash toward TV ads.
Dean has been focusing on Arizona and New Mexico. His campaign staff told Fox News they didn't believe South Carolina and Missouri would be battleground states.
"We're in very good shape on the ground in an awful lot of states. In California, we're in great shape, we are in great shape in New York, we're in great shape in Texas on March 9. So we've got a solid group of people all over the country, out quite a bit further than the next 12 days," Dean told Fox News.
South Carolina cannot be counted out, however. It is the first southern primary and has a strong African-American voting bloc. Edwards, who was born in the state, has made South Carolina a centerpiece of next week's contests.
"I think we've seen a lot of interest and energy behind his candidacy in New Hampshire, and I think we're going down South with more momentum than anybody thought we could," David Axelrod, a media consultant for Edwards, told Fox News.
Pundits said the race was likely to heat up as the candidates took their campaigns to the Feb. 3 states.
"You can expect that the infighting, the nastiness, is going to get worse now," said Fox News political contributor Juan Williams.
Fox News' Carl Cameron, Major Garrett, Catherine Loper and The Associated Press contributed to this report.