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May 03. 2011 12:31PM

2004: Kerry rides NH victory to nomination

When the dust settled on the night of Jan. 27, 2004, John Kerry had survived a political roller coaster and had won the New Hampshire Presidential Primary handily over a field of six other major candidates.

The Massachusetts senator’s 12 percentage point victory over second-place finisher Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor, propelled him to his party’s nomination. After Kerry’s New Hampshire victory, the remainder of the Democrats’ Presidential selection process was little more than a formality.

Kerry could lay claim to being the 21st Century version of the “Comeback Kid,” a phrase coined by Bill Clinton a dozen years earlier.

Kerry had entered the primary raced as the favorite, but his early performance on the campaign trail was uninspiring, especially in contrast to the high-energy Dean.

By early December of 2003, so-called political experts predicted Dean had already locked up both a New Hampshire primary victory and the Democratic Presidential nomination.

But the new year brought a turn of fortunes.

Kerry began rising in the polls while Dean began to drop. The turning point came when Dean delivered a memorable rant after finishing third in the Iowa caucuses, just eight days before the first-in-the-nation primary.

Sharing the primary stage were retired Gen. Wesley Clark, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and New York civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton.

Through the prism of issues including the war in Iraq, the overall fight against terrorism, homeland security, taxes, health care and trade, this long, testy campaign centered on which candidate was the most consistent in his policies and beliefs and who had the character, temperament and overall potential to defeat President George W. Bush in November.

A total of 221,309 Granite Staters voted in the Democratic primary, a record turnout, while 69,414 voted in a Republican primary that saw the President running against a host of so-called “no name” hopefuls.

Kerry won with 38 percent of the Democratic primary vote, followed by Dean with 26 percent, Clark with 12.3 percent, Edwards with 11.9 percent, Lieberman with 8.5 percent, Kucinich with 1.4 percent and Sharpton with less than one percent.

Bush drew 78 percent of the Republican primary vote.

All percentages are based on official vote tallies from the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office.

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