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Kerry, Edwards Ponder Two Man Race Beyond Wisconsin

By Adam Nagourney

and jodi Wilgoren

New York Times -- wisconsin

Howard Dean vowed Monday to continue his bid for the presidency, even after his campaign chairman defected and he appeared headed for another defeat here. But with some Dean supporters warning that he could not survive a loss in a state he once said he must win, Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards began contemplating the contours of a two-person race starting Wednesday.

The three main Democratic presidential candidates raced across Wisconsin, their charter jets crossing wings on runways in remote stretches of this state, but the main question was less about what would happen on Tuesday,when Wisconsin holds its primary, than what would happen on Wednesday.

With a series of polls showing Kerry in position to roll up another victoryhere, Edwards declared that he would not quit the race and said he was now looking forward to what he said would be a two-way contest with Kerry going into a heavy schedule of primaries in early March.

“We are going on,” Edwards said in an interview, asserting that his biggest obstacle has been a fast-paced primary calendar that hasn’t given him time to catch up with Kerry. “In every single state we have been rising onElection Day, every single one. It’s just a time issue.”

Kerry prepared for a trip on Wednesday to Ohio, followed by what his campaign said would be a coast-to-coast tour of other states that vote on March 2. He spent most of Monday focusing on President Bush, as if the primaries were over and the general election had begun.

“I’ve never seen a bigger say-one-thing-do-another administration than this crowd in Washington,” Kerry said to one of a series of huge crowds he encountered, this one in Wausau. “George Bush, you know, he’s already started the attack ads. I welcome it, folks.”

Dean was preparing to return to his home in Burlington, Vt., to plan what shape his campaign might take now as he absorbed the loss of his campaign chairman, Steven Grossman, to the Kerry campaign and the prospect that other of his senior aides would leave as soon as the votes were counted here on Tuesday.

Throughout the day, he veered between defiance -- when a crowd in Madison chanted, “We want Dean,” he responded, “Well if you vote for him, you’ll have him” -- and doubt about what his future held for him should he lose again on Wednesday. “I still have some hope of being the nominee,” Dean said at one point, as he encountered repeated questions from reporters about whether he could survive the vote in Wisconsin. At another point he said: “We’re just going to have to see how we do, but I’ll have plenty to say after Wisconsin depending on whether we win or lose.”

“Let me remind you all that I have more delegates than everyone else in this race except John Kerry,” Dean told reporters, an edge of anger in his voice. “So I think the campaign obituaries that some of you have been writing are a little misplaced. “

“John Edwards said the other day this is a two-person race,” he said. “I would agree. It’s a two-person race between me and John Kerry.”