John Kerry cemented the Democratic presidential nomination, driving rival John Edwards from the race with a string of Super Tuesday triumphs that left the Massachusetts senator standing alone against President Bush.
"Change is coming to America," Kerry said, capping a remarkable six-week run that began with his candidacy on the brink of extinction in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Dominating all comers, Kerry won 25 of 28 elections as each victory fed on the next in a swell of momentum that persuaded Democrats he could beat Bush. From Edwards' Southern strongholds to the jobs-poor Midwest states of Ohio and Michigan to the growing Southwest battleground of Arizona and to his own New England base, Kerry racked up victories in a primary season that amplified Democratic criticism of the Republican incumbent.
In state after state, Democrats said their top priority was a candidate who could defeat a wartime president with a $100 million-plus campaign treasury. Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran, won an overwhelming number of their votes, and now leads a relatively united party against Bush.
"I am a fighter, and for more than 30 years I have been on the battle lines, on the front lines, for fairness and mainstream American values," Kerry told cheering supporters in Washington, D.C., promising to close tax loopholes, offer new incentives for manufacturers, protect the environment, raise the minimum wage and cut health care costs.
The crowd shouted along with him as Kerry delivered his signature line: "If George Bush wants to make national security the central issue of 2004, I have three words that I know he understands - Bring. It. On."