WASHINGTON – Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (search) will formally announce his bid for the Democratic nomination for president next Tuesday against the backdrop of the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown.
Kerry, who began campaigning around the country months ago, will use his declaration to start a two-day, four-state swing from the carrier's home port of Patriot's Point, S.C.
Fox News has learned that Kerry probably won't be speaking on the deck of the aircraft carrier. Aides are wary of comparisons to President Bush's May 1 landing aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.
Bush earned criticism from Democrats who said his use of the carrier to announce the end of major combat in Iraq made the speech little more than a thinly disguised campaign commercial.
From South Carolina, Kerry will go to Iowa, then Manchester, N.H., and finally Boston for his last announcement speech.
Rival campaigns have already been snickering that Kerry was focusing on South Carolina because of Howard Dean's (search) successes against him in the New Hampshire polls.
South Carolina, along with six other states, will on Feb. 3 provide the third major test of the Democratic hopefuls' campaigns, following the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 19 and the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 27.
Kerry's favorite-nephew status in New Hampshire is being challenged by Dean, a former Vermont governor whose challenge to Kerry's status has turned the New Hampshire primary into an all-New England affair.
Kerry aides in New Hampshire have begun to put the word out that Kerry need not win in New Hampshire, an unavoidable sign of Kerry trouble and Dean momentum.
Bush handily won South Carolina in the 2000 Democratic election, and its senior senator, Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (search), a Democrat, announced earlier this summer that he wouldn't run again, partly, experts say, because of the changing political sentiments in the state.
Candidates traditionally make their first formal announcements in their home states, and then repeat them in early primary states. Kerry has reversed the process, starting his campaign in the one early primary state where he is doing the most poorly.
Fox News' Carl Cameron contributed to this report.