Edwards drops out of White House race

Democratic candidate John Edwards abandoned his United States presidential bid on Wednesday, while among Republicans challenger Mitt Romney vowed to keep up his struggle to overtake newly crowned front-runner John McCain.

Edwards, a former North Carolina senator who was his party’s vice-presidential nominee four years ago, never managed to match the superior firepower of the two heavyweights in the Democratic race—Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

His decision effectively narrows both the Democratic and Republican field to two realistic candidates apiece ahead of next week’s “Super Tuesday” contests when 24 states hold nominating contests for one or both parties.

Edwards was to announce his withdrawal formally at 6pm GMT in New Orleans, a campaign official said.

His decision leaves Clinton, a former first lady and New York senator, pitted against Obama, an Illinois senator.

Among Republicans, it is Arizona Senator McCain against former Massachusetts governor Romney. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is still formally in the race but his lack of money and appeal beyond Christian conservatives gives him little real chance.

The Edwards announcement stole the thunder from former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who planned to drop out and endorse McCain later on Wednesday after coming a distant third in Tuesday’s Republican primary in Florida.

McCain won that vote, cementing his status as Republican front-runner to contest the November election to succeed President George Bush.

Romney, who has poured millions of dollars from his personal fortune into the race and vastly outspent McCain in Florida, said it was now a two-man race.

“The options are me or John McCain,” he told Fox News on Wednesday. “It’s becoming a real race between two people who have two different views about the future of this country.”—Reuters

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