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CAMPAIGN 2000 | THE DEMOCRATS

Gore Wins Decisive Victories

Bush Captures 5 States as McCain Takes 3 GOP senator and Democrat Bradley are expected to reassess campaigns as front-runners move closer to securing parties' nominations.

March 08, 2000|From Associated Press

Vice President Al Gore swept past Bill Bradley in state after state in Tuesdays voting, pushing his rival to the brink of withdrawal in the Democratic presidential campaign and turning his own gaze to the general election.

Gore won from Maine to Georgia to Ohio and in several states in between, sometimes by outsized margins. He also bid for victory in California, the biggest prize on the busiest night of the primary season.

Watching the returns contentedly from a hotel room in his home state of Tennessee, Gore sought to begin unifying the party. "I have the greatest respect for Senator Bradley," said the vice president, who had attacked the former senator vigorously in campaign debates.

Polling place interviews with voters in every region of the country underscored Gore's strength among core constituencies.

Blacks and Latinos preferred Gore over Bradley by a margin of 8 to 1; the margin among union members was a healthy 3 to 1. Bradley fared better among independents. The exit polling was conducted by Voter News Service, a consortium of the AP and television networks.

"Come what may, we will not be dropping out this evening," said Eric Hauser, Bradley's spokesman, shortly before polls began closing in the early states. He said the campaign would have an announcement on Wednesday "about our plan for Thursday and beyond."

Advisors to the former senator from New Jersey did not discourage talk of a withdrawal if--as the Bradley forces clearly expected--Gore was en route to a rout, possibly even a sweep of primaries in all regions of the country.

Gore defeated Bradley in the New England states of Maine, Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts. He triumphed, as well, in Georgia, where he was winning roughly 80% of the vote; Ohio, roughly 70%; and Maryland and Missouri, roughly 60%.

Bradley came closest in Vermont, where he was gaining 44% of the vote.

Speaking in Tennessee, Gore looked ahead to the general election, saying, "Tonight I want to reach out to all who believe that this is a time for great progress, for great reform, for an America of tolerance and high ideals."

"We need to build on our record of prosperity. We don't need to go back to where we were eight years ago," he told cheering supporters.

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