Gordon Corera in Washington
As Senator Kerry wins another 5 primaries, Gordon Corera writes from Washington that the pundits are gearing up for the "main show".
As the votes pile up, the race for the White House begins to look less murky.
On the Democratic side, Senator John Kerry now looks the front-runner and his party's nomination is nearly his.
A surprise victory in Iowa catapulted him into a win in New Hampshire and then five of the seven states that voted on February 3rd.
But victories for General Wesley Clark in Oklahoma and John Edwards in South Carolina will give them another chance to prove themselves in the coming weeks as the race spreads further out across the nation.
Both will need to prove they are not one-hit wonders. Edwards has impressed many (praised as the best natural campaigner in the field) with a powerful, populist message that speaks to people's real concerns.
But the voters have made one thing clear. They want a candidate who can take on President Bush and they think that Edwards (with his relative lack of experience) may not stand up as well as Vietnam veteran John Kerry when faced with a Republican onslaught on national security.
Meanwhile Howard Dean has yet to win a state. An amazing fact for someone who a month ago was the front-runner. He must win soon to stay in the game.
For Kerry the focus is already beginning to shift onto the real race, the one against George W. Bush for the White House.
President Bush and his allies are already trying to paint Kerry as a liberal, but he is ready to fight back. Early polls suggest a race between Bush and Kerry could be extremely close, extremely tough and pretty nasty.
But first Kerry has to see off the other Democrats. That should happen by March 2nd when a series of big states like New York and California vote.
After that, get ready for the main showdown.
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