Candidates 2004

They wanted to be President of the United States

Here, listed by party and in alphabetical order, are the major candidates for the presidency of the United States in 2004.


Wesley K. Clark
(dropped out on 11 February 2004): Clark attended West Point and served in the Army for 34 years, rising to become a 4-star general and the NATO Supreme Allied Commander. He won the Silver and Bronze Stars while serving in Vietnam. Since retiring from the military in 2000 he has run his own consulting firm and served as a television commentator for CNN.

Howard Dean
(dropped out on 18 February 2004): Dean was governor of Vermont from 1991 until 2003, when he stepped down with the avowed intention of running for president. Prior to serving as Vermont’s governor, Dean worked as a physician; his wife, Judith Steinberg, is also a doctor.

John Edwards
(dropped out on 3 March 2004): Youthful, telegenic and Southern, Edwards is sometimes compared with former candidate (and president) Bill Clinton. Edwards has been a senator from North Carolina since 1999; prior to his election he spent 20 years as a trial lawyer. In July of 2004, John Kerry announced that Edwards would be the Democratic candidate for vice-president.

Richard Gephardt
(dropped out on 20 January 2004): Gephardt has run as a traditionalist Democrat and is especially known for his firm opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He previously ran for president in 1988, when he was defeated for the Democratic nomination by Michael Dukakis. Gephardt has been a congressman from Missouri since 1977.

Bob Graham
(dropped out on 7 October 2003): A two term governor (1979-87) and three-term senator from Florida, Graham was reportedly high on Al Gore‘s short list for running mates in 2000. In the 2004 race, Graham became the first major candidate to drop out of the Democratic field, telling TV interviewer Larry King “I have made the judgment that I cannot be elected.”

John Kerry: Despite serving in the U.S. Senate since 1984, Kerry was still the junior senator from Massachusetts; the senior senator was Ted Kennedy, who first was elected in 1962 (and who himself ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972 and 1980). Kerry served with the U.S. Navy in Vietnam, where (like Clark) he earned Bronze and Silver Stars for gallantry. Kerry won enough primaries to assure himself of the Democratic nomination for 2004, then picked John Edwards as his running mate. Kerry was officially nominated at the Democratic convention on 28 July 2004. He was defeated by George W. Bush in the general elections in November.

Dennis Kucinich
(defeated at convention in July 2004): Member of Congress from Ohio since 1997 and former mayor of Cleveland (1977-79). The son of a truck driver, Kucinich is something of a blue-collar intellectual in the Carl Sandburgmode; he also was the only vegetarian in the 2004 campaign. Though Kerry was assured of the Democratic nomination after the primaries, Kucinich didn’t end his campaign until Kerry was officially nominated.

Joe Lieberman
(dropped out on 3 February 2004): Lieberman has been a U.S. senator from Connecticut since 1989. He was Al Gore‘s running mate in the elections of 2000, when he made history by becoming the first Jewish candidate on a Democratic or Republican presidential ticket.

Carol Moseley-Braun
(dropped out on 15 January 2004): A former U.S. senator from Illinois (1993-1999), Moseley-Braun was the first female senator ever from Illinois and the first African-American female ever elected to the U.S. Senate. She also served as the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand from 1999-2001.

Al Sharpton
(defeated at convention in July 2004): A powerful (if controversial) orator and longtime activist in the African-American community, Sharpton made his first run for the presidency in 2004. He is sometimes compared with another activist who ran for president in 1984 and 1988, Rev. Jesse Jackson. Like Kucinich, Sharpton never officially dropped out of the race until Kerry was nominated at the Democratic convention.


George W. Bush: President of the U.S. since 2001, Bush was elected in the controversial vote of 2000. A deadlocked vote in Florida was the determining factor in whether Bush or Democrat Al Gore would become president; after a month of legal wrangling (complicated by the fact that Bush’s brotherJeb Bush was Florida’s governor), the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in with rulings which led to Bush’s win.

As the incumbent, Bush had no major Republican challengers to become the 2004 GOP nominee, with incumbent vice president Dick Cheney as his running mate. He and Cheney won second terms by defeating Kerry and Edwards in the November general elections.

Independents and Others

Ralph Nader: Nader announced in February of 2004 that he would again run for president in the fall elections, this time as an independent candidate. (He ran as a Green Party candidate in 1996 and 2000.) Nader scoffed at those who accused him of costing Al Gore the elections of 2000, saying on NBC’s Meet the Press that he was running to “challenge this two-party duopoly.”

To date, no other major independent or third party candidates have entered the 2004 race.Real estate mogul and casino owner Donald Trump, who nearly ran in 2000, spent early 2004 starring in his own NBC reality show, The Apprentice. And nine-time candidate Harold Stassen is finally out of the running: he died in 2001.

For a look back at the last election cycle, see our loop on Candidates 2000.

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