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"Comeback Kerry" Takes Iowa
By London Ball, 10, and Caleb Hoferman, 10
Scholastic Student Reporters

John Kerry points to the crowd as he arrives on the stage with his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, after winning the Iowa caucus. (© AP Photo/Laura Rauch)

Click the pictures to read more about Caleb Hoferman and London Ball.

Tuesday, January 20—The returns came in early and they were decisive. The frontrunner came in last, the guys behind in the polls came in first and second, and a major player dropped out.

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts came in first with 38 percent of the Iowa caucus vote on Monday night. Senator John Edwards of South Carolina was a close second with 32 percent of the vote. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean was a distant third with only 18 percent of the vote. And Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt, who came in fourth with 11 percent, will announce today that he is dropping out of the race for the Democratic nomination for President.

"This did not come out the way we wanted," Gephardt told a crowd of supporters at the Quality Inn and Suites where he held his election night party. "Life will go on because this campaign was never about me. It was about all of us." Gephardt won Iowa in when he ran for the presidential nomination in 1988, but ultimately lost to another Massachusetts politician, then-Governor Michael Dukakis.

Dean came on strong when he spoke to his supporters at the Val Air Ballroom in West Des Moines.

"We will not give up, we will not give up, we will not give up," shouted Dean, yelling so loudly his voice cracked. "We will win in Arizona, we will win in New Hampshire, we will win in Oklahoma, we will win in Delaware, we will in Pennsylvania."

The Governor's Opinion

As the candidates gave their victory or concession speeches, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack stopped by the Scholastic News media table in the Des Moines Convention Complex. He talked about the Iowa outcome.

"There are winners and losers tonight," he said. "Senators Edwards and Kerry are the winners. Also a winner is the message that both of these campaigns focused on the last couple of weeks: a message of hope, a message of opportunity, and a message of security—a very powerful message."

The Governor said he has experienced many caucuses in Iowa, but never one as exciting as this. He refused to name whom he supported for President, but had some kind words for Gephardt and his campaign.

"Richard Gephardt is a very nice man," Vilsack told Scholastic News Online. "He is one of the nicest people I've ever met. He's a great guy and tonight he's a very sad guy because his political career is probably over."

Dean was another loser, said Vilsack. "A couple of weeks ago, he was the big guy, the big cheese," the Governor said. "Now he's going to be engaged in a very tough campaign. He's going to have to go back to New Hampshire and he's going to campaign hard and he's going to campaign vigorously. We'll see in about eight days in New Hampshire if he can make it happen."

The big winner of the night—John Kerry—spoke to a jubilant crowd at the Hotel Fort Des Moines.

"Iowa, I love you," Kerry said, calling himself the "Comeback Kerry," because he was behind in the popularity polls until the last few days of the campaign. "Last night the New England Patriots won [the AFC championship]. Tonight, you made this New Englander win, so I'm on my way to the Super Bowl!"

Before Kerry goes to his "Super Bowl," however, he has to make a touchdown in New Hampshire next Tuesday, January 27. In the New Hampshire primaries, he will also have to face General Wesley Clark and Senator Joseph Lieberman, who did not run in the Iowa caucuses.