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Edwards' Campaign Says It Has Only Begun To Fight

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry heads into the Wisconsin primary with a commanding lead in the race for his party's nomination.

According to a recent survey, Kerry has 53 percent of the vote. Sen. John Edwards is a distant second with 16 percent, and Howard Dean has 11.

Since the Iowa caucuses in late January, Kerry has won 12 states. Edwards has won only South Carolina.

Oklahoma went to Wesley Clark, who since has dropped out of the race.

Some analysts say it is time for Edwards to drop out of the race before he wrecks his political career and hurts the party.

Edwards and his people said they have just begun to fight.

"We just need to compete well," Edwards spokeswoman Kim Rubey said. "After that, we expect it will be just a one-on-one race with Sen. John Kerry."

Meanwhile, Duke professor John Aldrich said "coming in second is nice, but it's really nice to actually win."

Aldrich and Rubey have strongly opposing viewpoints about Edwards' future in the race.

"We feel really good about the landscape right now," Rubey said, "what the future holds.

"Sen. Edwards will campaign his heart out for every vote, and he'll continue to do so until he's the nominee."

Said Aldrich: "Does Edwards have a chance of winning the nomination? In my opinion, he has a very slim chance."

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According to Aldrich, Edwards will hurt his image if he does not drop out of the race soon, "and become seen more as a spoiler than a serious contender trying to win."

Rubey said Edwards can win.

"Eighty percent of the Democratic primary electorate has still not weighed in yet," Rubey said. "I think it is important to look at the big picture and realize that this process is just beginning."

Said Aldrich: "Certainly, he should give John Kerry the chance to screw up if it's at all possible."

Possible, Aldrich said, but not probable.

"Unless there's some major turn in the very short period of time," Aldrich said, "which is quite unlikely but not impossible."

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