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Senator John F. Kerry waved to a group of photographers at the rim of the Grand Canyon on Aug. 9.
Senator John F. Kerry waved to a group of photographers at the rim of the Grand Canyon on Aug. 9. (Globe Staff Photo / Dina Rudick)

On the trail of Kerry's failed dream

Page 16 of 16 -- After dinner with his family and the departure of his aides around 10 p.m., he began fidgeting: Pacing up and down stairs in his Beacon Hill town house, sorting through papers, starting conversations and then growing silent.

Once again, as in 2000, the election appeared to hinge on one state. Four years ago it was Florida. Now it was Ohio, where Bush appeared to be winning by about 136,000 votes, but some 155,000 "provisional" ballots, which still required verification, had not been counted. Without Ohio, Kerry would lose both the Electoral College and the popular vote. If he won the state, even by a single vote, the Electoral College would name him president.

After midnight, Kerry and Cahill decided that he should not make a planned visit to the crowd at Copley Square, instead sending Edwards to tell the crowd to wait one more night.

But by Wednesday morning, Kerry knew there was no chance he would gain enough votes in Ohio to become president. Agonizingly, he realized that his campaign had met its turnout goal in Ohio voters but that the Bush campaign had turned out many more rural voters than anticipated, including many apparently driven by cultural and leadership issues.

After the obligatory telephone call to Bush, Kerry delivered an emotional concession speech at Faneuil Hall in which he said he wished he could "embrace each and every one of you." Kerry then asked some of his longtime friends to come back to his Louisburg Square home for private reflection. Some had known Kerry for more than four decades and had always believed he would be president. A day earlier, they had been convinced of it.

Now the dream was over.

Kerry sat in the kitchen, sipping a bowl of soup, and shook his head as he turned to a friend and said simply, "We worked so hard." There were tears and hugs.

As Kerry sat, he started to analyze the race. Many voters, he concluded, cast their ballots on single issues, such as abortion or gay rights. Kerry had tried to walk a fine line on both issues, saying life began at conception while supporting abortion rights, and opposing same-sex marriage but also rejecting a constitutional amendment to ban it. From the start, it had been difficult for a Bostonian to appeal to the conservative South and some Midwest states. Kerry felt he had done it.

But through it all, the rivers of war -- Iraq and Vietnam -- ran through the campaign.

As the friends and family gathered around him, Kerry's daughter Vanessa comforted her father.

"I'm so proud my name is Kerry," she said. 

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