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Edwards, Giuliani to end presidential bids


Washington : Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards was to quit his bid for his party’s nomination on Wednesday, while on the Republican side, former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani plans to drop out of the race.

Edwards, 54, who has staked his campaign on a populist message, has consistently trailed frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the opening state-by-state contests to determine the Democratic and Republican nominees for the Nov 4 presidential election.

The end of Giuliani’s candidacy comes after a distant third place finish in voting Tuesday in Florida, a state Giuliani, 63, hoped on capturing to propel him back to the frontrunner status he enjoyed heading into the campaign last year.

“I spoke with Rudy Giuliani this morning and he confirmed that he is dropping out of the race and will endorse Senator John McCain for president,” Joseph L. Bruno, the New York Senate majority leader, said in a statement Wednesday.

Edwards was to announce the end of his campaign at a speech in New Orleans at noon (1800 GMT), CNN reported.

Edwards, a former senator who was John Kerry’s vice presidential running mate in the 2004 election, was not expected to immediately endorse either of the other two candidates.

He failed to win any of the six states that have gone to the polls so far, including a disappointing third place finish in his native South Carolina on Saturday. The former trial lawyer made his best showing in the first contest by edging Clinton for second place in the Iowa caucus Jan 3.

But Edwards was unable to gain steam against the hype surrounding the campaigns of the two senators. Obama is seeking to become the first black president, while Clinton would be the first woman to hold the White House.

Edwards finished a distant third place in Florida on Tuesday night. Although the Democratic Party disqualified the state delegates from counting in the overall number needed to capture the nomination, Edwards’ placing left him weakened heading into Tuesday’s vote in 22 states, the most delegate rich day of the nomination contests.

The Democratic National Committee barred the Florida delegates because the state chose to move up the date of its primary without the authorization of the committee. The Democratic slate was banned from campaigning there, but the victorious Clinton, who won Florida with 50 percent of the vote, showed up at a rally once polling was closed. Obama received 33 percent of the vote and Edwards had 14 percent.

Despite Edwards’ planned departure from the race, he could still be a force in the outcome. With Clinton and Obama in a neck-to-neck race, both candidates are expected to pursue his endorsement to gain the backing of his supporters.

Bruno said New York’s Senate Majority Conference would join Giuliani in endorsing McCain, the Arizona senator whose victory Tuesday night in Florida solidified his standing as the Republican frontrunner.

Giuliani, whose leadership following the Sep 11, 2001 terrorist attacks won him widespread praise, was ahead in national polls heading into the campaign and many expected him to win the nomination.

Giuliani chose to skip campaigning in the early round of voting in the previous five states to focus on winning in Florida and gaining momentum heading into Tuesday’s vote in 22 states, which will be the biggest day in the presidential nomination contest.

But Giuliani’s strategy appeared to have backfired, as McCain and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney were able to capitalize on early victories to out manoeuvre the former prosecutor in Florida.