Former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun said Saturday her White House bid would offer a sharp contrast to President Bush's policies on Iraq and federal spending.

"I believe we should not go to war unilaterally, by ourselves, and I'm very clear that we should not have budget deficits," she said at a campaign event.

Moseley-Braun this week plans to take a first step toward running for president in 2004, joining a crowded field of contenders.

"If the American people respond to my message and respond to my candidacy then it will be a viable one," Moseley-Braun said.

"If they don't then we'll probably fold our tent in September or thereabouts and support whoever the Democratic nominee might be, but I have every intention of winning the nomination."

Her formation of an exploratory committee will allow her to raise money, finance travels around the country and help gauge voter support.

She was spending the President's Day weekend at campaign events in the key early nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, appearing at events sponsored by American Women Presidents, a political action committee.

Moseley-Braun, 55, made political history in 1992 as the first black woman elected to the Senate. She lost re-election in 1998 and later was ambassador to New Zealand.

Already running in 2004 are Sens. John Edwards of North Carolina, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut; Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri; former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont; and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

A source familiar with his plans said Saturday that Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio plans to file papers to launch a presidential campaign on Monday, making him the eighth formal candidate for the Democratic nomination.

Moseley-Braun said that candidates in the race are not drawing a stark enough contrast with Bush.

"I look forward to this opportunity to help shape the debate, to help move my party in the direction of being an alternative on these issues," Moseley-Braun said.