Sen. John Kerry called for Democrats to unite to defeat President Bush at a D.C. rally Tuesday night, following the apparent capture of his party’s presidential nomination.
The rally came on the heels of news that Kerry won primaries in nine out of 10 states in a “Super Tuesday” that saw the Massachusetts senator’s only formidable opponent, Sen. John Edwards, drop out of the race.
Speaking in front of about 400 supporters at the Old Post Office Pavilion, Kerry, flanked by fellow Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, promised the crowd that he would unseat Bush in the November election.
“I believe that in 2004, one united Democrat party will win this election,” said Kerry, who walked onto the stage with his wife and children as the U2 song “Beautiful Day” blared in the background.
He also praised Edwards, a first-term senator from North Carolina, for exiting the race, which will allow him to campaign solely against Bush. While Kerry did not garner enough votes to secure the nomination Tuesday, the withdrawal of Edwards has effectively paved the way for his win at the Democratic Convention in August.
“I want all of us here to thank John Edwards,” said Kerry during his brief remarks. “No question he brings great promise of leadership in years to come, and we thank him.”
Kerry promised to create jobs and repeal Republican-authored tax cuts that he said have only provided a financial windfall to wealthy Americans.
“Millions … live in fear every day that they will lose their jobs or lose their health care or lose their pensions,” he said. “My campaign, our campaign, is about replacing doubt with hope and replacing fear with security.”
Chants of “Kerry! Kerry! Kerry!” erupted several times during the night, and reached a peak after the candidate said he would forge better relations with international organizations.
“We will rejoin the community of nations, renew our alliances, build new alliances … because they are essential for the war on terror,” he said.
As Kerry descended the stage and waded into the crowd, he removed his jacket to shake supporters’ hands and hold babies.
After it became clear at 9 p.m. that Edwards would be dropping out of the race and that Kerry would win overwhelming majorities in nine states, a surge of energy swept through a crowd that anxiously clamored for their candidate.
Polly Trammell, originally an Edwards supporter, said she started backing Kerry after hearing him rail against the relocation of jobs to foreign countries.
“I was originally following Edwards … but I figured to give everyone a chance,” she said. “And when I heard Kerry speak our against farming out U.S. jobs to foreign nations, I became a Kerry fan.”