John Kerry on the Campaign Trail

ABCNEWS' Ed O'Keefe is on the trail with Sen. John Kerry as he runs for president. For the latest report, scroll down.

¿No más?

COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 2--Sen. John Kerry's day leading up to Super Tuesday felt more like a busy general election campaign swing rather than the continuing drama of a two-person nomination contest. In fact, to hear Kerry's trio of stump speeches delivered Monday in Maryland, Ohio, and Georgia, one might believe the only two-man race in the Senator's mind is against President George W. Bush.

In a 35-minute rally cry in which Senator Kerry never once even mentioned Sen. Edwards, the Massachusetts Senator instead focused on President Bush, promising, "This is going to be a campaign different from campaigns in the past. This isn't going to be some kind of, you know, we're like them, they're like us, wishy-washy, mealy-mouth, you can't tell the difference deal. This is going to be something where we're giving America a real choice."

But even as Kerry gave glimpse of the anticipated fall campaign to come to in his "Real Deal" spiel at Ohio State University, a young boy in the audience had had enough. Slipping from his mother's grasp, his sneakers plunked to the ground and he began a silent protest.

Cupping a hand over each ear, the young boy paced along the rear security barrier, finally realizing only a direct plea would win his mother's attention. Standing at her waist, the boy looked up and cried, "No más! No más! No más!"

Fortunately for Sen. Kerry, the boy did not represent the feelings of the nearly 500 gathered to see the frontrunner on his third trip to Ohio in twelve days.

It is clear, however, the Kerry camp hopes the Junior Senator from Massachusetts racks up big wins on delegate-rich Super Tuesday, forcing the Senior Senator from North Carolina to do his best Roberto Duran in acknowledging either the statistical inevitability or stark reality of Kerry's nomination crown.

In some part, the Kerry camp would like to conclude the nomination phase of the election for all the expected reasons. Facing a $4.5 million onslaught of BC04 ads, now is not the time for any potential Democratic nominee to be draining near-empty coffers of precious resources on the battle when the war is yet to come.

But, it's also a question of energy. Sen. Kerry has been campaigning at a near constant pace since December of 2002, hardly even taking a break to recover from prostate cancer surgery early the next year.

Kerry, a meticulous and articulate speaker, tires more easily and is beginning to make small mistakes on the trail.

In Dayton, Ohio last week, the Senator twice referred to Ohio as Iowa and on Monday he ruffled some Buckeyes when beginning his remarks, "We're here at Iowa State, Ohio State. I've got to get it out right."

The Senator is also reverting back to an old habit of stepping on or rushing signature lines, causing events to quickly fall flat.

And new material is sloppy such as when the Senator, in attempt to make an Oscar connection, joked, "Did you see Peter Jackson, Lord of the Rings? (It) cleaned up, obviously. I learned that Peter Jackson used 25,000 extras (to make the film). He's created more jobs than George Bush has, ladies and gentlemen." Unfortunately, a majority of those 25,000 jobs were created in New Zealand where the "outsourced" trilogy filmed.

Nevertheless, the Senator proved he's still quick on his feet. At an otherwise lackluster early morning rally in Baltimore, Sen. Kerry introduced his youngest daughter Vanessa Kerry, receiving a rowdy chorus of baritone cheers in response to the 27-year-old Harvard Medical School student's wave.

The Senator, appearing for a moment more like a father than a presidential candidate, warned, "Hey, guys, you gotta talk to me first."

At Kerry's final event at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia, Kerry's voice was noticeably cracking, his throat strained from the most aggressive multi-stop, single day of campaigning in some time.

On Super Tuesday, Sen. Kerry will be in the last place the potential Democratic presidential nominee wants to be: Washington, DC. Kerry returns to Capitol Hill, a place at which the 4-term Senator has worked countless days over the last 19 years, but one which he has not seen much of lately.

Kerry has not appeared on the floor of the Senate since Nov. 24, 2003, when he participated in the Medicare prescription drug debate. This time, Senator Kerry heads to the Hill, Secret Service detail in tow, on 1,151-delegate rich Super Tuesday to vote on gun liability legislation.

On Wednesday, Kerry heads to Florida, a March 9 primary state and, obviously, an important general election state as well.

The Natural

BUFFALO, N.Y., Feb. 29--To look at Sen. John Kerry, one might expect a town hall meeting in Buffalo's Ellicott Square Building, better known as the hotel at which the mysterious Harriet Bird (Barbara Hershey) inexplicably shoots Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) in The Natural, to be, well, a bit unnatural.

Instead, the 6'4" long-jawed politician works best in the round, surrounded by question-filled voters, rather than delivering more Senate-inspired podium pontificating. Building on the cinematic theme, the Kerry advance team benched U2's "A Beautiful Day" in favor of Randy Newman's "The Whammer Strikes Out" as the Senator entered to speak with (not at) 600 mostly upstate New Yorkers. The often long-winded Senator Noted the occasion saying, "We're going to make history here tonight. This is the shortest speech I'm going to give in this campaign."

Indeed, Kerry lived up to his promise, clocking in at just over two minutes.

The Senator spent the remaining 54 minutes of his sole pre-Super Tuesday upstate swing taking 11 questions from the eager crowd.

Aside from talking trade to a hall filled with union banners and several "FTAA Sucks" t-shirts, Kerry responded to a question on the perils of the Patriot Act by declaring, "The biggest problem with the Patriot Act is two words: John Ashcroft."

While the Ashcroft knock is standard, the Massachusetts Senator then went on to suggest a "panel of distinguished jurists" whose purpose would be to "guarantee rights are being protected" might be one way, in addition to repealing several controversial provisions before renewing the Patriot Act, to both protect national security and preserve civil rights.

Kerry mentioned former Senator George Mitchell (D-ME), former Senate Majority Bob Dole (R-KS), and former Senator Warren Rudman (R-NH) as those who might serve on such a panel.

The final questioner of the night asked Kerry if he would be willing to listen and include Independent candidate Ralph Nader in any presidential debates. Senator Kerry began by insisting he would appeal to "those who felt disenfranchised" in 2000 and concluded, "I don't think this is a year that we can afford to let anybody take away any votes and allow George Bush to change the Supreme Court down the road."

While those are Kerry's strongest words on Nader to date, the Senator did not answer the direct question on allowing the former Green candidate in the traditionally two-candidate debates.

Later, Kerry, whose staff has become increasingly superstitious as the possibility of actually winning the nomination grows, bucked luck and tried his hand at numerology. Having just reunited with a fellow Vietnam veteran, Kerry described the identifying numbers of his two swift boats.

"One of them was 44 boat, and the other was the 94 boat," the Senator described.

"And it occurred to me this afternoon…I am running to be the 44th President of the United States and I was on the 44th boat. I think that's a pretty good sign. And the other boat I was on was the 94 boat, and that has a 4 in it, and I'm running in November 04 and that's a pretty good sign," Kerry concluded.

Aside from the numerological assertion that Kerry will still be running in November, staff members steadfastly refuse to discuss mid-March schedule, or even take questions assuming Senator Kerry as the hypothetical nominee.

Kerry, however, showed no fear in making predictions. The Senator, whose recent campaign stops in Los Angeles and Brooklyn have drawn the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Christie Brinkley, boldly stated as he walked up his campaign charter plane, "Lord of the Rings. That's the one. Best Picture, Lord of the Rings. You can take that to the bank."

Unfortunately for Senator Kerry, he was unable to join the press corps Oscar pool as he was unable to post the $5.00 entry fee. When an identity protected press traveler asked the candidate, who narrowly avoided a discussion of his extensive means in Sunday's debate, to ante up, Kerry admitted he had no money and to emphasize his point, reached into his pockets and pulled the insides out.

Alas, whatever Senator Kerry's predictive powers, it is now certain Kerry will campaign through Super Tuesday with stops in Maryland and Georgia. Senator Kerry will also make his first appearance in the Senate since last fall, bringing Secret Service and a 50-person press corps in tow as he votes on the assault weapons ban Tuesday. The Kerry campaign holds its "Super Tuesday celebration" in Tampa, Florida, and the Senator intends to campaign in each of contested 3/9 states regardless of Tuesday's outcome.

King in Queens

NEW YORK CITY, Feb. 23 — The Democratic frontrunner takes a few liberties now and then. Some, such as screeching a 10-car motorcade from Harlem to Queens in 26 only to delay the day's final event by 45 minutes, come with the title.

Others, such as claiming the endorsement of Senator Daniel Inouye — as Kerry did at an avail in Atlanta Saturday night despite the Hawaii Senator's public pledge to stay neutral — might be an overeager leap.

But then there are those, such as offering a pre-buttal to the president's first overtly political speech of the campaign season, that apparently come with the potentially brutal 2004 general election turf.

Before a sparse crowd gathered at the Alhambra Ballroom in Harlem, Kerry said, "The president (Monday night) will lay out his vision … I believe the president will run away from his own record because he doesn't have a record to run on."

Kerry, who rarely ever mentions his lone remaining major Democratic nomination foe, added, "It's interesting. We have George Bush on the run because he's going to get out there tonight and start his campaign even before we have a Democratic nominee."

The event concluded with Coldplay's "Clocks," but regardless of frontman Chris Martin's endorsement of Kerry, the Grammy-winning song was quickly skipped for Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke."

The Senator's second stop took him to Queens, where the record repeated. In a press avail, Kerry again charged, "I think George Bush is on the run and I think George Bush is on the run because he doesn't have a record to run on."

He also said, "(Republicans) have even named their multi-million dollar television advertising (campaign) 'Operation Carpet Bombing,'" although no evidence exists to support this claim and the Republican National Committee denies it.

Kerry was also asked by a television news producer whether or not he felt it is appropriate that Senator Edwards' stump speech focuses on economic and domestic issues, making little mention of national security.

He deflected the opportunity to criticize Edwards on a subject on which he often critiques the president, offering only that he "wouldn't comment on any other candidates' strategies."

The Kerry campaign does intend, however, to counter Edwards in the three markets where the North Carolina Senator has begun to air television ads.

Starting Tuesday, Kerry will go up with the ever-popular "Del" or "A Good American," an ad featuring one of Kerry's swift boat mates describing the Senator's service in Vietnam. "Del" will run through Super Tuesday in Ohio, Georgia, and upstate New York including Rochester, Buffalo, and Syracuse but not Albany.

Two new ads — one on the economy and one Georgia-specific featuring former Senator Max Cleland and Rep. John Lewis — are also in production.

Kerry Communications Director Stephanie Cutter would not disclose the specific amount of the buy, labeling it "pretty significant."

Cutter insisted other states could be added to the buy and deflected the notion that the move is intended to counter Edwards.

"It made sense to go up in those states," Cutter said, later adding the Kerry campaign "always knew" they would advertise in Ohio.

"It's a significant state," Cutter remarked. "It embodies everything that's wrong with this country."

Kerry attended three closed fundraisers in New York City Monday evening. He begins a two-day trip to Ohio Tuesday, with stops in Youngstown, Cleveland, and Toledo.

Disengage Autopilot

ATLANTA, Ga., Feb. 22 — Prior to Sunday, the Kerry campaign's post-Wisconsin week was Notable more for what did not happen than for what did.

Senator Kerry did not expand his pre-Super Tuesday travel schedule, campaigning only in Ohio and Georgia between two down days in his home state of Massachusetts. In that same time, Senator Edwards busily made his way to five of the 10 contested March 2 states.

The Kerry campaign did not go up with ads — even symbolically — anywhere, despite moves by the Edwards camp to go on the air in both Georgia and Ohio.

And Kerry did not utter the Senator "E"-word without prompting, preferring to cast himself as President Bush's opponent rather than focus on the last man standing nomination battle ahead.

In Wisconsin, Kerry looked tired and sounded hoarse, suffering the effects of an almost constantly strained throat in spite of a lighter schedule. Several news outlets observed that Kerry's Middleton, Wis., victory speech fell flat and that a subsequent event in Ohio felt forced.

But on Sunday, a well-rested, Christophe-coifed Kerry emerged in Georgia re-focused and energized. Before an overflow crowd seated inside and even stretching outside the Coca Cola Roxy Theater in Atlanta, Kerry limited his opening remarks to just over 10 minutes, reserving a full 55 minutes for 18 questions from the crowd.

In rapid-fire Q&A not present since Iowa, the often long-winded Kerry limited most responses to one to three minutes and drew affection from the crowd without once delivering his signature line: "Bring it on."

On only one occasion did Kerry appear more Brahmin and less common when during a question on troubled youth, Kerry capped his statement which included an assertion that he recognizes the difference between crack and powder cocaine by insisting, "This is not palaver."

Kerry did, however, riff on some more popular themes, invoking some familiar but far from copyrighted phrases.

When discussing trade, Kerry said, "We need a president who knows what it's like to be part of an America that's struggling to get by today."

And when asked by an incoming college freshman to give a post-Kerry administration economic forecast, the Senator would only promise his economic plan would center on "putting people back to work."

Kerry reserved his strongest criticisms for the Bush administration, not his primary Democratic opponent. Kerry baited the Bush administration to continue the publicity-wielding debate concerning the Senator's defense votes which the Kerry camp has deftly turned into a squabble over Kerry's military service record.

Asked by a local reporter if the Bush-Kerry campaign exchanges on defense were over, Kerry replied, "It depends on them. If they're going to try to question my commitment to the defense of our country, then I'm going to fight back, because they did that to Max Cleland, they did it to John McCain and I'm not going to stand for it."

But despite Kerry's desire to continue that fight, the political reality remains that he first needs to win the nomination.

Toward that end, it appears "Minuteman" intends to continue riding the momentum wave, taking his now eight-car, 14-Secret Service agent motorcade to stops in New York, Minnesota and California, with a return trip to Ohio midweek.

The Kerry camp will likely forgo expensive paid ads in the delegate-rich Super Tuesday states instead strategizing that the traveling spectacle of the frontrunner will generate a free local media bonanza wherever Kerry goes.

Kerry will also participate in two debates — one in Los Angeles Thursday, the other in New York this Sunday.

Say Cheese

GREEN BAY, Wis., Feb. 16 — Forty-four years ago, a 23-year-old Ted Kennedy accepted a dare, agreeing to fly off a Wisconsin ski jump to support his older brother, then-hopeful candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator John F. Kennedy.

On Monday, the-now Senior Senator from Massachusetts who good-naturedly described himself as "71 and a little heavier" nevertheless offered to do the same for his junior colleague, Sen. John Kerry.

Fortunately for Kennedy, Kerry might not need any stunts for a decisive Wisconsin win.

Despite a wide lead in most Badger State polls, a commanding 560 delegate head count nationally, growing fundraising and positive press, the frontrunner is taking no chances. Or, some might argue, Kerry is going for the jugular in what could, for the first time in four decades, prove an influential Midwestern contest.

Engaging in his most active single state day of campaigning since New Hampshire, Kerry started early and ended late on Election eve. Holding three events in Wausau, Green Bay and Milwaukee, Senator Kerry deviated from his tarmac to tarmac, media and momentum-dependent game plan but stuck strictly to the strategic anti-Bush playbook.

Kerry's immediate post-Wisconsin strategy will be to travel to Ohio, a state the Senator has repeatedly claimed was a winnable one for Vice President Gore in 2000. In regards to further plans, Kerry would only add, "We're talking about the schedule right now. Obviously, New York, California, Ohio…it's hard right now to say." The Massachusetts Senator may be tired of the Iowa-New Hampshire-Wisconsin cold. Traveling from Green Bay to Milwaukee, the Senator turned to his campaign staff and proclaimed, "Hey guys, we have to go to Hawaii. How can you dis Hawaii?"

Adding insult to injury, it appears that if Kerry does not make it to the Aloha State before their February 24th primary, he may not even be able to bank all those campaign hotel credits.

Having spotted a traveling reporter booking an upcoming vacation online, Kerry turned to all-purpose aide Marvin Nicholson and asked, "Do we get (hotel) points? (The reporters) get points for vacation."

Nicholson, the 6'8" Kerry "body man", replied, "Ah, I don't know. We'll look into it."

Kerry retorted, "Look into it. Yeah, I've heard that staff answer before."

The Kerry campaign remains up with three rotating ads in Wisconsin through Tuesday's primary. They have not made any final decisions with regard to Super Tuesday advertising.


FAIRFAX, Va., Feb. 10 — When Senator Kerry enters a room advanced by his skilled team of television-friendly stage makers, scene setters and banner hangers, the crowd roars as Springsteen rocks and "Real Deal" ovals wave.

But as the front-running candidate walked into Bob's Barksdale Restaurant in Memphis, Tenn., an eerily appropriate and utterly non-advanced song played overhead.

Kerry gripped and grinned as Don Henley's Eagles sang:

"Somebody's gonna hurt someone Before the night is through Somebody's gonna come undone. There's nothin' we can do." As the Massachusetts Senator worked the Southern crowd, the refrain echoed softly:

"There's gonna be a heartache tonight, A heartache tonight, I know. There's gonna be a heartache tonight, I know. Lord, I know."

Indeed, by Tuesday night Kerry's nomination fight had successfully made its way through the one region of the country that had yet to cast its ballots for him.

In the wake of overwhelming Kerry wins in Tennessee and Virginia, Gen. Wesley Clark decided to bow to the Lieutenant — or his campaign, anyway, leaving only two major candidates in contention.

And the Kerry campaign strategy against Edwards and Dean at this point seems to ignore the fact that they are still in the race. In his victory speech on the campus of George Mason University, Kerry positioned himself as President Bush's challenger, stating, "Our opponents say they want to campaign on national security," using an inclusive pronoun while neglecting Dean and Edwards entirely.

The Senator, who has hardly mentioned a Democratic opponent by name since New Hampshire, will take two down days in Washington to strategize, organize, and fundraise, while his rivals campaign in Wisconsin.

Kerry, who leads by double digits in what few polls are available in the Badger State, continues to rotate two ads there — one focused on his service in Vietnam, the other on "special interests," will make his first trip to Wisconsin since this summer on Friday.

The campaign will also make a one-day trip to Nevada prior to the state's Valentine's Day primary, keeping in line with Kerry's pledge to "fight for every vote" in each primary and caucus state.

In Virginia, even as eection day polls showed a wide lead, the Senator left nothing for granted, appearing before 200 supporters at the Robinson Secondary School polling site in Fairfax Station.

At this late event, Amy Conrick moved through the throng with her 8-year-old son, Eoinc, to say, "This is a young fellow Irishman."

Kerry, whose roots were described by one senior aide as "little bits of lots and lots of things European all mixed up" replied, "Well, I only have a tiny piece of that, I'm afraid, you know, very little."

Thank goodness young Eoinc did not observe, as one colleague did on Kerry's Miami Air charter, the Senator conversing in fluent, if rusty, off-camera French with an international correspondent and crew.

Heritage aside, Kerry's sense of identity, with one-quarter of the delegate march toward the nomination complete, was not in question.

On the eve of Kerry's Southern sweep, a local Virginia television reporter queried, "Do you prefer the comparisons to Kennedy or Dukakis?"

Kerry replied without hesitation, "I prefer being John Kerry."

Yes, Virginia, It's an Unusual Southern Strategy …

MEMPHIS, Tenn., Feb. 9 — Senator Kerry spent the last three days in pursuit of the one prize that has eluded him thus far in this lopsided Democratic nomination contest: a win in the South.

Kerry sandwiched his two-state, six-city effort with trips to Nashville and Memphis, touching down in more familiar Virginia cities in between.

On Monday, Kerry arrived 23 minutes late to Fire Station One in Roanoke, Va. Four hundred and fifty supporters nestled between the Corporate Look Barbershop and the eldest fire station in Old Dominion to hear Kerry's "Real Deal" spiel.

In an interview with local television stations, Kerry was asked if he viewed Virginia as a way to "wrap up the nomination," and he replied, "That is way beyond my pay grade. I just keep campaigning and someday somebody will, you know, hopefully will take a count of the delegates and we've won the nomination … "

For the record, ABC News' count currently shows Kerry with an amassed 430 delegates going into Tuesday's 151-proof contests. The total leaves Kerry closer than his rivals but oh so far from the 2,161 delegates needed to arrive at the Fleet Center triumphant in July.

Flying further south, the Senator slogged through the Memphis rain late Monday, hustling into a raucous rally, accompanied by the district's favorite son, Rep. Harold Ford, Jr.

The Southern-accented Ford reminded folks (who probably didn't need reminding) that the lanky Bay Stater is from out of town.

"I just want to introduce you to someone who knows a little more about clam chowder than barbeque … I want to bring you someone who knows more about lobster than fried chicken," the young House member joked.

Kerry took the mic and opened with a similar zinger, reminding the swelling crowd that his New England Patriots won the Super Bowl and thus, according to Kerry, proving a New Englander could "go down to Texas and win."

Of course, the Patriots' win came at the price of the Tennessee Titans' 12-4 season; the hometown Titans were defeated 17-14 at Foxboro in the AFC Championship on the ever-reliable kicking leg of Adam Vinatieri.

Let's just say that "Bring it on" went over much better.

As the evening wore on, Kerry seemed to be channeling the voice of the nation's last successful Massachusetts Senator in a presidential contest.

The rarely introspective JFK offered, "There's an impatient streak in me … some have faulted me for it," suggesting that his "drive" had helped in "fighting for people."

Kerry later added that he joined the field of politics because, "I believe this can be a noble profession … I believe it's right to dream."

He also stepped up the rhetorical battle against President Bush, charging, "The one thing we need to do is stop allowing politicians to make drive-by photo ops at schools."

Kerry continued, "I don't understand the ethics of someone who can walk into a school … and leave knowing they don't have the proper funding."

The Kerry campaign approaches Tuesday's contests in Virginia and Tennessee with cautious optimism. Dismissing any polls, even those that show him pulling away, Kerry will campaign in both states on Election Day, coming to a rest in Virginia to watch the returns.

Kerry remains on the air with ads in both states, including Democrat-heavy Northern Virginia, by advertising on pricey Washington, D.C.-based stations. Looking ahead, aides say Kerry will campaign in Nevada prior to the state's Valentine's Day primary, and that the campaign went up with ads statewide in Wisconsin on Sunday.

Most importantly, however, a Note update: the circa 1961 album featuring an 18-year-old Kerry's St. Paul's School band, "The Electras," sold on E-Bay early Monday morning for $2,551.00. Congrats "nopiccolo" — feel free to give the Note a peek at those liner notes.

Frontrunnerus in Extremis

CHESAPEAKE, Va., Feb. 8 — — Despite a 10-for-12 nomination contest record and garnering 412 delegates (until the Maine Democratic Party certifies the results of its caucuses), a lion's share of those allocated so far, Senator Kerry still resists the "F" word. ("Frontrunner," for those who read the Rolling Stone interview and got confused.)

Nevertheless, there are emerging cultural signs — setting aside lopsided returns and a slew of endorsements — that "Seabiscuit" is now setting the pace of the Democratic race.

Surfing the online auction site E-Bay (LINK), for instance, a circa 1961 album from "The Electras" featuring a young, St. Paul's schooled Kerry on bass guitar stood at $2,410 with only a handful of hours to go.

The rare and potentially lucrative collectible pictures a lanky 18-year-old Kerry and band mates, each of whom list their residences. The Senator, whose father was in the Foreign Service, cites Oslo, Norway, as home.

On Friday night in Nashville, the stars shone bright in the swanky Hermitage Hotel. As the three-bus press corps descended, word of Kerry's arrival quickly spread.

Noting several "Kerry Press" bag tags, a woman turned to ask reporters, "Is Senator Kerry staying here?" Receiving an affirmative response she sighed with Elvis-spotting glee, "Wow! Cool."

Having taken the elevator with a long-haired, sunglasses-wearing and serious character, a colleague looked with surprise as the remaining passenger exclaimed, "That was Kid Rock. And Senator Kerry's here too!"

But traveling with a rock star — the Frontrunner, not Kid Rock — has many downsides for the sideshow crew.

As the Kerry press corps attempted to drag their luggage onto the elevators and up to their rooms, they ran smack dab into Hermitage security, holding both elevators, and preventing all plebian traffic.

Ah, Kid Rock must be heading to his Broadway Street show. Or, maybe a third, unknown dignitary to Note. Alas, it was Kerry, finishing a cell phone call, while 60 people alternatively gazed and glared in his direction.

The Senator spent the remainder of his weekend was spent in Virginia, mostly delivering pre-buttal and rebuttal to the man he hopes to soon call rival, President Bush.

Having presumptively thanked Michigan and Washington State for the "great message" being sent to Virginia and Tennessee hours before the polls closed in either state Saturday, Kerry tamed a speech which, as written, directly counter attacked "the Republican smear machine" on taxes, health care, education, jobs, homeland security, and national security.

In the prepared text, Kerry labeled the Bush administration "extreme" six times; in delivery, Kerry added another two for good measure.

On Sunday, Kerry picked up the endorsement of Virginia Gov. Mark Warner then hammered President Bush's morning show performance.

Kerry charged that Bush had changed his story on the reasons for going to war in Iraq, but many questions centered on the president's defense of his service in the National Guard during Vietnam.

Kerry contended, "The issue here, as I have heard it raised, is was he present and active on duty in Alabama at the Times he was supposed to be. I don't have the answer to that question and just because you get honorable discharge does not in fact answer that question."

Kerry starts the week in Tennessee then holds an election night party in Fairfax, Va. Looking toward the battles ahead, the Kerry campaign went up with a statewide ad Sunday in Wisconsin called "A Good American," featuring fellow swift boat mate Del Sandusky.

Coffin to Coffers

NEW YORK CITY, Feb. 5 — Senator John Kerry moved sluggishly into the 16-passenger Gulfstream II waiting on the "Million Air" tarmac in Teterboro, N.J.

Kerry, who mounted a comeback campaign by rallying against "special interests," was welcomed for landing at Teterboro despite having occasionally cited the corporate-friendly airstrip as a symbol of excess in his stump speech.

At Sister Sarah's Restaurant in Algona, Iowa, shortly before the turn of the New Year, Kerry railed, "I can't tell you, I mean, you can go to Teterboro airport in New Jersey on a Friday night, and watch a whole bunch of corporate executives getting into corporate jets, flying to their corporate-paid-for homes, who are going to play golf at corporate paid-for-golf club memberships, after they've been to the theater at corporate-paid-for tickets, all of which (is tax) deducted, all of which you're paying for."

Summarizing his lengthy riff, the Senator concluded, "There's too much money loose in the American political system."

But as Gotham's night lights began to glow, Teterboro airport represented something much less rotten to the Kerry campaign.

At a gathering of the Senator's national fundraising team, his New York heavies announced they raked in over $750,000 mostly post-Iowa dollars — an amazing figure, considering only five weeks ago an anonymous fundraiser confessed to Patrick Healy of the Boston Globe , "I'm dying out there. There was so much excitement about John Kerry early on, and now there's none."

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and former State Comptroller H. Carl McCall joined uber-fundraisers including Steven Rattner and Orin Kramer for a buffet of pasta, roast sirloin and green … vegetables.

And many of the 70-some guests sported a new fashion trend: round blue buttons with white script reading "4JKB4IA" which translated from DMVanese means "For John Kerry Before Iowa."

The Kerry campaign also announced they have raised $5 million since the first of the year, with all but $500,000 of that figure pouring in post-Iowa. In other words, Kerry's coffers have filled at a clip of $1.5 million per week since earning the first-place caucus crown.

On Thursday, Kerry also greeted the prominent endorsements of Michigan Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and, from his hospital bed in which he's suffering from a recently broken rib, Maine's Gov. John Baldacci.

Most significantly, on Friday, the Senator's one-time nomination rival Rep. Dick Gephardt will endorse Kerry in Warren, Mich. Given Dean's perceived retreat from Michigan and the labor union-cueing endorsement from Gephardt, the Kerry campaign will spend only one day in Michigan before turning their focus to Virginia and Tennessee.

In those Tuesday contest states, Kerry will attempt to accomplish the one task that has thus far eluded him in the nomination process: win in the south.

Of his chief competition in the region, Senator Edwards, former Gephardt campaign manager and newly acquired Kerry guru Steve Elmendorf poked, "(Edwards) hasn't moved beyond a regional candidate. If he were a national candidate, he'd be in Maine or Washington competing. He won South Carolina (because) he focused an incredible amount of attention on it."

Kerry continues to rotate two veterans-oriented ads in Virginia (including Washington, D.C. stations) and Tennessee. There are no plans to go on the air in Michigan, Washington, or Maine, while Wisconsin seems less a question of if but when.

Surge Protector

SEATTLE, Feb. 3 — Sen. John Kerry sat before a live camera in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel & Towers commenting on the third consecutive Democratic nomination victory party that lived up to its name.

"I'm going to continue to march toward the nomination and toward defeating George W. Bush," an admittedly tired Kerry told ABC News' Ted Koppel.

Kerry's march now takes him into a two-front battle. The first front, against former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, comes to a head this Saturday in Michigan and Washington state.

Kerry's approach to these delegate-rich primaries is much the same as his Feb. 3 tactic: ride momentum and endorsements, making late visits that saturate highly populated media markets at voter decision time. His first success? The aforementioned victory party. Riding the tide of a five-for-seven night, Kerry packed in more than 2,000 in downtown Seattle and proudly displayed the recent endorsements of Gov. Gary Locke and Senator Maria Cantwell.

In Michigan, the Kerry campaign has thus far resisted pricey advertising and, confident of their position, will dedicate at least two valuable days to the state late this week. Gov. Jennifer Granholm has endorsed Kerry and, during a down day in Boston Wednesday, the Senator will focus on unions and fundraising, both of which could aid his effort in the Wolverine State.

On the second front, Kerry looks back to the South, the region of the country in which the New Englander has failed to place first, delivering his only political defeats since 1972. Kerry's principle competition in Virginia and Tennessee, both of which hold their contests Feb. 10, is fellow Sen. John Edwards. Kerry, like Edwards, will go on the air with series of ads in both states. The only significant difference: Kerry will also advertise in Democrat-rich northern Virginia with ads airing on Washington, D.C., stations as well.

Kerry will turn his attention to Virginia this weekend, appearing at the state's Jefferson Jackson dinner, and likely spending some quality campaign time in the state.

South by Southwest

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Feb. 2 — On the eve of his first multi-state election day, Senator Kerry made a first and final two-state swing through the southwest, rallying party faithful in New Mexico and Arizona.

The sense in the Kerry camp the day before Tuesday's seven 269-delegate rich contests is unlike that of the nights prior to the upset in Iowa or New Hampshire romp. Instead, a quiet confidence has overcome the once-downtrodden crowd.

No one dares make an on-the-record guess but underlying questions persistent at almost every campaign level: has Kerry locked up four, maybe five? Could he sweep?

The once foolish thoughts are banished quickly amongst nomination fever struck staffers, more out of superstition than disbelief.

Whatever Tuesday's outcome, Kerry's ability to seriously compete in the Feb. 3 states boil down to one word: momentum.

Case in point: since Kerry's official presidential announcement in Charleston, S.C., on Sept. 2, 2003, and before the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 27, 2004, the Senator visited Arizona twice, New Mexico once, and South Carolina once.

Senator Kerry did not campaign in Oklahoma, Delaware, Missouri, or North Dakota during this time.

The Kerry campaign purchased no advertising in the Feb. 3 states until just seven days ago and national staff presence was sporadic at best.

Nonetheless, the Senator has received welcome cheers in all seven states this past week, piled on state and national endorsements, and went up with four rotating television ads.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson commented, "He's virtually unstoppable in New Mexico, great momentum. He has incredible support in the Hispanic community, 3 to 1."

In Missouri, Kerry, who has snatched up all but one of Rep. Dick Gephardt's presidential press shop, also appears well positioned to swipe the Show Me State's 74-delegate top prize.

The Kerry camp also feels confident in Arizona, where well over 1,000 people rallied in the Tucson sun and nearly 800 energized supporters gathered in Phoenix Monday.

In an interview with ABC News' Kate Snow, Kerry stated he would be "satisfied" if he "won four or five states" in Tuesday's elections.

Though the candidate refuses to speculate beyond numbers, several Kerry are hopeful in Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, and North Dakota, leaving Delaware, Oklahoma, and South Carolina ripe for pick-up.

Seemingly exhausted during a series of satellite television interviews Monday, Kerry, during a break, turned to an aide and stated, "Edwards says he's the only one who can win states in the South. He can't win his own state."

If Senator Edwards wins South Carolina and stays in the race, candidate Kerry may find himself once again in a newly defined two-man battle.

Looking forward, the Kerry camp will continue running four ads in the Feb. 3 states, with one new ad featuring the endorsements of Senator Fritz Hollings and Rep. Jim Clyburn appearing through Tuesday, solely in South Carolina. Post-Feb. 3 ads should start almost immediately upon the conclusion of Tuesday's contests.

Preparing for the possibility of a two-front battle, the Senator spends election night in Seattle, Wash. (a.k.a. Dean country) before red-eyeing a charter to Boston for his first down day since New Year's Day. Senator Kerry's southern exposure post-Feb. 3 depends largely on Tuesday's outcome. Despite that fact, staffers continue to mobilize, eyeing mid-February and even Super Tuesday sites.

Dakota Patriots

FARGO, N.D., Feb. 1 — As the first half of Super Bowl XXXVIII drew to a close, Sen. Kerry turned back to the gathered crowd of Midwestern-turned-New Englanders and mouthed only two simple words: "Adam Vinatieri."

As the fourth quarter came near, the Patriots remained ahead yet still Kerry insisted, "This game will come down to Adam Vinatieri."

Indeed, with only eight seconds left on the clock, sitting in Playmaker's bar in Fargo, N.D., the Senator's prophecy about the South Dakota State University kicker became reality; Vinatieri stepped up, set, and, for the second time in three years, kicked the clutch field goal, again delivering a world championship to New England.

Kerry, tossing aside his barely touched Sam Adams bottleneck, jumped from his seat, raised both arms in the air and high-fived every native in sight.

The evening capped what could only be deemed a highly successful campaign day in the far flung part of "up north" country. Kerry arrived in North Dakota Saturday night but did not hold his only event of the day until noon on Sunday.

Considering only 2,000 North Dakota Democrats voted in the Gore v. Bradley 2000 race, Kerry's 1,200 crowd at the Fargo Air Museum was itself a success. Although the Senator arrived nearly a half hour late, the capacity crowd cheered his stump speech, appreciating the mere presence of the frontrunner in the three electoral vote, 14-delegate state.

The only artifact apparently not welcome at the Senator's Fargo rally was a replica of President George H.W. Bush's World War II Avenger. The vintage plane, dubbed the Barbara II, was moved out of the hanger where Kerry held his event, although five less political planes remained.

In a post-event availability, Kerry responded to the news of day, pushing back a Newsweek report on his connections to Democratic fundraiser Johnny Chung. Kerry stood before the "Plane Jane" and stated blankly of the charge, "This is old news. It's been fully vetted. It was investigated and the moment we learned anything about that contribution, we returned the entire contribution. It's one of the reasons why I have been such an advocate of campaign finance reform."

As for rival Democrat Howard Dean accepting Kerry's earlier challenge to a one-on-one debate, the Senator demurred, "We're in a seven-state primary. I don't have the time right now, very simple, and we have another couple of states after that suddenly. I have a schedule."

Pat Healy of the Boston Globe challenged, "But you have a down day on Wednesday."

The Senator quickly shot back, "I need it. So do you."

Seemingly undaunted by the below-the-donut temperatures, Kerry dodged a commitment to return to the Peace Garden State if and when a fall campaign occurs; Kerry did, however, pledge to local television stations that if he were to win the presidency, he will return to North Dakota during his first term.

Kerry leads into the Feb. 3 contests with a swing through the Southwest, hitting New Mexico and Arizona for the first time in months. On E-Day, the Senator will stop in Washington State before jaunting back to Boston for a brief day of rest.

The Kerry campaign continues to advertise in all Feb. 3 states, rotating veterans-centered ads in North Dakota and South Carolina and Spanish language ads in Arizona and New Mexico.

On Monday in New Mexico, Kerry will receive the endorsement of New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer. Over the weekend, Kerry picked up the endorsements of Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Rep. Sander Levin, and Washington Gov. Gary Locke.


ST. LOUIS, Mo., Jan 28—No longer able to quibble over the semantics of being labeled the frontrunner, Sen. Kerry boarded "Elaine," a 737 green and purple striped Miami Air charter bound not for the sun-filled fun of South Beach but instead cruising west toward the bellweather state of Missouri.

Once aboard, Communications Director and Gore campaign veteran David Morehouse faced his first critical decision of the flight. Choosing among Matrix Revolutions, Hulk, School of Rock, Master and Commander, and Daddy Dare Care, Morehouse reflected on his immense political experience and made the call: School of Rock it would be.

So it was that Jack Black, who has headlined fundraisers for Kerry's rival Senator John Edwards, displayed his antics on movie screens throughout the cabin as the Senator held court over the ever-burgeoning traveling press corps.

As Kerry began his 6-day, 7-state charge toward the third of February, he remarked, attempting to lower expectations by the sentence, "We're going in strong. We're going in in pretty decent shape, call it competitive -- it's the best way to put it. I'm going in in a competitive position."

In sporting news, the Senator learned, much to his dismay, that he will not attend the Patriots v. Carolina Superbowl in Houston, campaigning instead in New Mexico. Kerry will, however, get a chance for some exercise in near future, aiming to skate with the Detroit Red Wings shortly before Michigan's primary. On Wednesday, Senator Kerry arrived in St. Louis to a slew of endorsements, including that of the city's Mayor, Francis G. Slay, who led a security-heavy 11-vehicle, 2 fire engine motorcade to the day's one and only event at St. Louis Community College.


MANCHESTER, N.H., Jan 27—In just two weeks, Sen. John F. Kerry went from twenty-five points down to a double-digit win in New Hampshire's first in the nation primary; and the Masschusetts Senator even had time for an election day haircut.

The Senator's final primary day in the Granite State was relatively calm, marked only by a round robin of morning show appearances and a brief stint in the Kerry for President Headquarters phone bank. Growing restless, Kerry made his way to the intersection of Granite & Canal streets mid-afternoon for some old fashioned street politics.

Just before the polls closed at Ward Five's Beech Street School Community Center, Kerry planted himself in the narrow pathway leading to the voting location's doors. Without a single voter in sight, Kerry was asked what a win would mean for the looming seven-state battle on Feb. 3, to which the Senator replied, "I really don't know. Obviously, I hope a lot. Considering where my campaign was three weeks ago, a win here would be a huge turnaround and an incredible upset. Everybody had written us off three or four weeks ago."

Between pleas to nearly twenty potential supporters entering the Beech Street School over as many minutes, Kerry responded to another question regarding what it would take to be declared the frontrunner. Senator Kerry offered, "Just win. That'd be great. All I have to do is just win. That would be the biggest turnaround in American politics in a long time."

Returing to the Tage Inn in Manchester, Kerry was taking a shower when his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry delivered news of his victory. As elaborated upon in a cable news interview, Heinz Kerry said, "We nearly had a wet guy running around." Heinz Kerry went on to relate the experience to Iowa recalling that her husband first heard the official news of his upset caucus win while shaving. "It seems to be a bathroom event," the spunky heiress added.

The Senator insists he has no election day superstitions, though he did wear a medallion of St. Christopher which has been more often than not around his neck since Vietnam. Kerry did, however, keep the four-leaf clover given to him by a supporter in Iowa, carrying it with him through his second nomination win.

At first glance, Kerry's approach to Feb. 3 boils down to three-pronged attack: 1) bask in the free media bounce, 2) build awareness through visibility, and 3) ads, ads, ads. The Kerry campaign hopes momentum from New Hampshire will give their candidate an advantage, especially due to the campaign's pre-Iowa organizational deficiencies in Feb. 3 states. The hope is, whatever Kerry may have lost by focusing on Iowa and New Hampshire will be more than regained by virtue of winning Iowa and New Hampshire.

Since his official announcement in September, Kerry has not traveled to South Carolina since that month, Arizona since November, New Mexico since December, and not at all to the remaining four states. To make up for this deficit, the campaign plans an all-out media and travel blitz to every contested Feb. 3 state. Senator Kerry begins his seven-day-seven-state charge Wednesday, traveling first to Missouri then to South Carolina.

Three ads will rotate in each state. "The Good American", an ad featuring footage of Kerry walking through the jungles of Vietnam with an M-16 and discussing "doing what's right" with regard to health care and taxes, concludes with swift boat mate Del Sandusky vouching, "He's a good American." A second ad featuring David Alston, an African-American minister from South Carolina, focuses on veterans issues. Both "The Good American" and "Alston" will play heavily in Veterans' states such as South Carolina and Arizona.

"Corruption versus Opportunity" shows a sharp-looking Senator eyeing the camera straight on, in essence introducing himself to the viewer while explaining the need to roll back the Bush tax cuts. This ad is likely to run more regularly throughout the states.

The Kerry campaign refused to provide details of the ad buy, insisting only that the three thirty second ads will rotate in seven "significant" statewide buys.

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

JAFFREY, N.H., Jan. 26 — Senator John F. Kerry strode into Yoken's Restaurant in Portsmouth, N.H., and asked, "You want the Old Man of the Mountain pose?"

The senator, whose distinguished mug eerily resembles the Granite State rock formation which crumbled last year, added, "I'm all that's left standing."

And that's precisely the political scenario Kerry hopes will ring ever more true after Tuesday's votes are counted.

Deftly avoiding the expectations game, while simultaneously dropping his transparent underdog claim, Kerry comes into New

Hampshire's first in the nation primary in a vastly improved but still perilous position above the crowded field of Democratic contenders.

The candidate refuses to acknowledge polls, instead vowing to "fight for every vote" in New Hampshire before turning to the seven states in play on Feb. 3.

But there are subtle signs that Kerry is at least looking with one eye south and west while keeping his duck boots firmly on New Hampshire's ground. An early morning questioner asked Kerry, "How are you going to going to win?," especially in light of the recent Republican attacks claiming the senator is "more liberal than Ted Kennedy" and "without a legislative record."

Kerry quickly turned the question into a commentary on his chances in the south asserting, "The south is not a foreign country, ladies and gentlemen."

Having sealed the deal with four undecided voters traveling on the "Real Deal Express", Kerry turned his attention to an interview with ABC affiliate WMUR, during which a question was asked about the campaign's impending travel to Missouri and South Carolina.

Following the interview, Kerry asked aide David Wade, "Why's it out where I'm going?" Wade replied, "People figured out where you're going, but you're going other places too."

Indeed, the Kerry campaign's 2/3 infrastructure has solidified since the upset in Iowa only a week ago. Press secretaries have been dispatched to Arizona, New Mexico and Missouri, and political directors are working in South Carolina, North Dakota, and Missouri as well. But, the true influx of advance and support staff must wait to hear Tuesday's results before scattering across the nation.

On Election Day, Kerry holds only three events, two press opportunities early in the morning and one to gather with supporters while awaiting returns. The intervening time, dubbed affectionately by The Note as The Whouley Hold, remains subject to the whim of Kerry's ace strategist Michael Whouley's and his target turnout concerns.

Don't They Get It?

LACONIA, N.H., Jan. 22—In Iowa, Sen. John F. Kerry clawed his way back from the political graveyard attending upwards of seven events per day and, in the final week of harried campaigning, traveling 1,880 miles in search of a momentum-building win. Three days into a seven day New Hampshire stint, it appears the Massachusetts Senator will take a different approach in attempting to win the Granite State. At present, the Kerry campaign seems content to hold the lead, avoid mistakes and turn the calendar's pages as quickly as possible.

At the Senator's first press availability in five days en route from Manchester to Laconia, NH, the Senator spoke for six minutes with his traveling press corps before remarking, "I feel so cob-webby today."

In Laconia, 400 people filled the Elks Lodge with an overflow crowd. Kerry, who arrived nearly a half hour late for his first and only event of the day, abbreviated his stump to a twelve minute presentation, then took forty-four minutes worth of audience questions. After the event, as is quickly becoming custom, a media swarm engulfed the candidate, eventually forcing Kerry to wade step-by-step into a throng of immovable reporters, cameras, and stills. Having finally broken through the crush of media, Kerry stormed onto the "Real Deal Express", ripped off his Timberland Barn Coat, and tossed it into the gray and red striped seat by his side.

"Don't they get it?," Kerry bellowed to no one in particular. "I can't have this," he continued, referring to the media horde now watching his every move. David Wade, traveling press secretary, entered the bus and immediately faced the Senator's wrath. Thrashing his arms, Kerry asked several times, "Where are my boots?" Once located, the previously nervous Kerry seemed a bit more serene. Surrogates continue to flank the state, while the candidate grows less willing to take any risks or chances given the current volatility of the Democratic field. Former Senator Max Cleland, arrives Friday for a Veterans' event with James Rassmann, the special forces soldier who was saved by Kerry in Vietnam. Teresa Heinz Kerry returns to New Hampshire to campaign through this weekend for her husband. And, naturally, the Kerry campaign will be dependent upon its most influential surrogate so far: big Mo(mentum).

The most dramatic scene at Thursday's debate occurred before most of the press arrived. Senator Kerry, who stands six foot, four inches tall decided to walk from the "Real Deal Express" to the debate site several hundred yards away.

Before taking ten steps behind a bagpipe band, supporters and small representatives from rival campaigns surrounded the Senator, chanting "Kerry no More" and "Clark '04". As Kerry continued down the road, a swarm of rival campaign supporters attempted to get close to the Senator. Given the enormous press and personal contingency, the campaign fought its way through screaming opponents, near fisticuffs, and several downed reporters and internal supporters. By the conclusion of Kerry's walk, three local police officers had been called over to control the crowd. Kerry continued to work the walk with a smile, but became visibly agitated the longer this madness continued.

Senator Kerry shops for veterans' votes Friday in New Hampshire and South Carolina Friday, as well as some of Kerry's trademark chili. On Saturday, Kerry laces up his skates with former Boston Bruins Ray Bourque and Cam Neely.

Granite vs. Corn

EXETER, NH, Jan. 21—Forty eight hours after Sen. John F. Kerry's upset victory in Iowa, new trends are quickly emerging as the campaign tries to keep pace with its own momentum in New Hampshire.

Being 'Kerry in Vogue' is tricky business these fast-paced days so The Note is pleased to provide a short hand list of what's in and what's out at the Kerry camp BI (Before Iowa) and AI (After Iowa).

In: Growing the press corps; ; ; ; Out: Boring the press corps

In: Full suits and stylish ties; ; ; ; Out: Wrinkled cords and a threadbare blazer

In: Beacon Hill bed; ; ; ; Out: Super 8 thread count

In: Environmental Record ; ; ; ; Out: Hawkeye produced ethanol & soy-based lubricant

In: Independent Voter; ; ; ; ; Out: Undecided Voter

In: 'Comeback Kerry'; ; ; ; ; Out: 'Come back to the Senate Kerry'

In: Shrum, Whouley, Shaheen; ; ; ; Bush, Rove & Company

In: Surge ; ; ; ; Out: Shakeup

In:: New Hampshire Tough ; ; ; ; Out:Iowa Nice

With only five days to go before New Hampshirites head to the polls, Senator Kerry spent a relatively calm day featuring only two public events, an extensive "60 Minutes" interview, and a new ad.

At Daniel Webster College in Nashua, New Hampshire, Kerry delivered a twenty-six minute speech, relatively short for the Massachusetts Senator, who was introduced by Mary Ann Knowles, one of the 'real people' featured in the Kerry campaign's latest statewide ad.

And in Thursday's headlines, Kerry will be greeted by a rare sight: not only will both the Boston Globe and Boston Herald endorse the Senator's presidential bid but each Beantown daily newspaper shows Kerry first in New Hampshire by a statistically significant ten point margin.

As Thursday's debate looms, Kerry continues to project positive while letting the others around him scramble for the key to Plan B.

On Wednesday in Exeter, New Hampshire, Kerry, not exactly shedding the long held aloof image, stood before an overflow elite crowd of 1,200 to state, "…in light of the last few days of my campaign, it's been 4 hours sleep a night, a couple of all nighters, a lot of cold pizza and some warm beer and Hostess cupcakes." "Folks, I felt like was in exam week," the Senator proclaimed.

And indeed it is.

The 'F' Word (Again)

PEMBROKE, N.H., Jan. 20—On January 8, Sen. John F. Kerry departed his native Boston an often dismissed former frontrunner fighting for the third class ticket out of Iowa.

On Tuesday morning, Kerry returned bleary-eyed but victorious, touching down in New Hampshire for the first time in 12 days, traveling not third but first class in the campaign's own plum-full 168-passenger 737 Sun Country jet.

The Senator spent his first waking hours walking a tricky political tightrope. In three separate morning show interviews, Kerry proclaimed himself 'Comeback Kerry' then quickly reminded viewers that he's behind in New Hampshire and, therefore, still the underdog.

Exiting the interviews, Kerry gathered with friends, family, and staff at the Wiggins terminal of Manchester Airport.

Spread across the conference table dominating the room's center were the day's headlines from the Boston Globe, New York Times, Nashua Telegraph, USA Today, and other papers.

The team Shaheen, advisor Bob Shrum, siblings Diane and Cameron Kerry, Rep. Ed Markey, singer Carole King and exhausted Iowa staffers could not help but smile, between Dunkin Donut coffee sips, at the sight of "Kerry pulls off Iowa upset; Dean finishes a distant third".

In an airport hangar rally for re-energized supporters, Kerry, standing in front an enormous American flag and with just a hint of a fledging voice, bellowed, "All of you have made me a better candidate…I am the underdog (in New Hampshire) but I have not yet begun to fight."

The cautious candidate made only one oblique reference to Gen. Clark, proclaiming in his speech, "I am a lifelong Democrat," to thunderous applause. As the Kerry campaign re-groups following their fast break from the starting gate the essential questions remain: how far will momentum take the Massachusetts Senator and where does he focus after New Hampshire?

The campaign has already begun to move pieces on the political organization chess board. In the wake of Monday's win, several Iowa staffers jumped aboard the Des Moines to Manchester charter, some to aid in the Granite State, others to position for possible re-deployment.

Iowa lead advancer Teresa Wells will likely remain in New Hampshire while Hawkeye State spokesperson Laura Capps will trade ear muffs for sun block in Arizona. And, in what is viewed both long overdue and a strategically brilliant move by at least one Note scribe, Iowa Political Director Mike Malaise will attempt to work his down home charm in North Dakota.

Advance and organizational resources have also set their sights on southern entrée South Carolina but overall the campaign's long-range focus has not yet come into full view.

But with the first battle in Kerry's two-front momentum war decisively won, the near-term goal appears to be following the Iowa model: lower expectations as long as one can, break late, and score an energy building surprise.

Ironically, the source of Kerry's biggest potential and his biggest potential for weakness is his own success. Clearly pleased with their success in Iowa, the Kerry campaign has become a more confident but still 'F'-word free zone. After all, Seabiscuit breaks best when challenged and when running from behind.


DES MOINES, Iowa, Jan. 19 — On September 2, 2003, Senator John F. Kerry stepped into the Grand Ballroom at the historic Hotel Fort Des Moines only hours after he had stepped on his own announcement tour message, embroiling his campaign in a "staff shakeup" drama that would haunt the Kerry camp for three long months. On Monday night, Kerry walked out of that same ballroom the upset winner, regaining the frontrunner status lost somewhere in Dean's hot summer. The Senator heard the first set of entrance poll numbers while traveling on the "Real Deal Express" from his final Iowa event to Urbandale High School, a bustling caucus site for 1,400 people.

Kerry waded his way through the crowd, signing autographs, posing for pictures and making one last pitch, "Help the undecideds," Kerry cried, "Don't let them get away!"

By the time the Senator reached Suite 1014 in downtown Des Moines, it was fast becoming clear that his 76 long days in the Hawkeye State were about to pay off. Kerry sat with his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry and his daughters Alexandra and Vanessa watching returns and failing to eat the room service his ever-faithful staff had ordered for him.

Sen. Ted Kennedy, who made three separate trips to the Hawkeye State in support of his junior Senator, sat nearby, along with numerous members of the Kerry staff, including turnout wizard Michael Whouley, ad man Jim Margolis, and concept creator Bob Shrum.

In a brief availability with his original press corps, Kerry heaped praise on Iowa for "giving America a lesson in democracy."

Pledging to take the fight to his native Northeast, Kerry pledged, "I'm a fighter. I'm here to win. And I'm going to take that message to the White House." The candidate mentioned a call he placed to Gephardt, the "gracious" conversation he had with Howard Dean, and several attempts to reach Sen. Edwards. The seemingly tired but clearly pleased Senator leaned back and commented, "It feels like comeback Kerry. I like it."

Kerry's campaign took a 2:00 am flight from Des Moines to Manchester with only 7 days to find out if New Hampshirites feel the same way.