Edwards set to quit US presidential race

US Senator John Edwards is said to have decided to pull out of the Democratic race for president after failing to slow favourite John Kerry on Super Tuesday.

    Kerry (L) looks likely to challenge George Bush for the presidency

    NBC and CNN television said Edwards is due to make an official announcement on winding up his campaign on Wednesday.

    If confirmed, the decision would have come after

    Kerry won a Democratic primary in the crucial electoral battleground state of Ohio.

    According to US television networks

    , the win was Kerry's first in 10 Super Tuesday contests.

    The veteran lawmaker and Vietnam veteran went into Tuesday's

    showdown hoping to land a knockout blow on his only serious

    challenger for the Democratic nomination

    .

    And if Kerry emerges as the Democratic nominee as expected, Ohio

    will likely play a key role in November's election battle against

    Republican President George Bush.

    Cheney defiant

    Meanwhile, US Vice-President Dick C

    heney has insisted he will be on

    Bush's re-election ticket, and has brushed aside speculation the president 

    might consider replacing him.

    Edwards may run as John Kerry's
    campaign partner

    "He's asked me to serve with him on the ticket again for

    the next four years," Cheney told Fox News in one of a series of

    cable television interviews.

    "I'm happy to do that as long as I

    can be of assistance and he wants me in that spot, I plan to

    serve."

    Some political analysts have speculated Bush might drop

    Cheney, who has become a lightning rod for Democratic

    criticism, if he is down in the polls as the November election

    approaches.

    In recent months, Cheney's image has been battered by attacks on

    his role in the administration's Iraq policy and previous ties

    with energy company Halliburton, which is being probed for

    alleged overcharging for its services in Iraq.

    Cheney told MSNBC if he thought he had become a liability to

    Bush, he would tell him to find another candidate.

    Health questions

    "Obviously, if a health question came up or something like

    that, clearly if I thought that I couldn't do what he needs to

    have done, then I'd be the first to recommend that he gets

    somebody else," Cheney said.

    But he said that was not the case.

    Cheney has a history of heart trouble including four heart

    attacks, but says he is in good health.

    The vice-president's popularity has fallen and more than

    one in four Republican primary voters want Bush to pick a new

    running mate, according to a new poll by the Annenberg Public

    Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

    Thirty-six per cent of Americans held an unfavorable view of

    Cheney in February, up from 26% in October.

    Among likely Republican primary voters, 62% said

    Bush should keep Cheney, while 27% thought he should be

    dumped.

    Gay marriage

    Cheney was a prime mover in the decision to invade Iraq and

    spoke repeatedly of a danger posed by Iraqi weapons of mass

    destruction. No such weapons have been found.

    Cheney's reluctance to answer media questions re-emerged on

    the topic of Bush's decision to back a constitutional amendment

    to ban gay marriage.

    Cheney's daughter Mary, a senior official in the

    Bush/Cheney campaign, is openly gay.

    "He (Bush) has asked me to serve with him on the ticket again for

    the next four years.

    I'm happy to do that as long as I

    can be of assistance and he wants me in that spot, I plan to

    serve"

    Dick Cheney,
    US vice-president

    The vice-president had

    said in the 2000 campaign that he did not necessarily see a

    role for the federal government in the gay marriage issue.

    Cheney was asked by MSNBC if he is ever conflicted between

    his role as a father and that of a politician.

    He said he

    considers his daughters' lives private "and I think that's the

    way it ought to remain".

    And he told CNN, "I support the president," but said any advice

    he gave Bush on the gay marriage issue was private.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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