The nomination within reach, John Kerry's advisers are discussing strategies for sharpening his message, spending his money, airing TV ads and collecting a winner's share of the 538 electoral votes in November's general election.
While the candidate focuses on defeating John Edwards and Howard Dean to sew up the Democratic race, parts of his mushrooming political team have put President Bush firmly in their sights.
"In a cycle that has been this unpredictable, the Kerry campaign is wise to stay focused on the task at hand. But engaging the administration serves a dual purpose for Senator Kerry," said Democratic strategist Michael Feldman.
"Going toe-to-toe with President Bush is also the best way to secure the Democratic nomination," Feldman said. His former boss, Al Gore, polished off the 2000 Democratic nominating struggle while at the same time eying Bush.
With each of his 12 primary season victories, Kerry has stepped up his criticism of Bush. He calls White House foreign policy feckless, Iraq policy reckless, domestic policy ruthless and distortions of his own record baseless.
"George Bush and the Republican smear machine has begun trotting out the same old tired lines of attack," Kerry said recently, adding that he has news for Republicans: "I am not going to back down."
Thus, he's already begun to build up his general election campaign.
Read more : Kerry's Advisers Look to Sharpen Message