MANCHESTER, N.H. – Fresh from an upset victory in the first test of the Democratic presidential campaign, John Kerry (search) barreled into New Hampshire (search) on Tuesday and promptly proclaimed himself the underdog in next week's first-in-the-nation primary.
Still, Kerry said fellow New Englander Howard Dean (search) can be beaten in the state, despite leading in the polls. "Well, obviously, we proved that in Iowa," said the Massachusetts senator.
Kerry, who won Monday's Iowa caucuses with 38 percent support, flew eastward overnight, arriving in New Hampshire at sunrise for an appearance at an airport hangar timed for morning television.
There and in a round of interviews, he repeatedly described himself as a fighter, ready to do battle against President Bush and the special interests.
"I am running because I, like many Americans, don't think it's right that George Bush places his buddies as the first priority of America. I am running for president to put New Hampshire and its citizens first, and that's what we need to do," he said.
Kerry told reporters he had not run any negative television commercials in Iowa, but said there were contrasts to be drawn between his record and those of his rivals.
"There are real differences between all of us in this race," he said.
"If we are going to beat George Bush, I believe we need a nominee who has experience in international relations and foreign affairs," he said. "I also believe it's important to have a president who has years of experience in domestic issues. So I think I am the only candidate in this race who brings the full package to the table."
The opening win appears to have energized Kerry. He spent hours taking questions at an evening chili supper in Pembroke, where he drew listeners out on details of medical problems, burdensome student loans and tough economic times.
"What you are hearing is the real world that I was talking about," he said.
Kerry also told personal stories in greater detail than normal, speaking of his mother's death and his sister's work as an inner-city teacher.
"In the last two years, I lost both my parents," said Kerry, urging activists to examine his personal story.
"Check out my gut, check out my heart," he said.
Earlier in the day, Kerry did not mention any of his rivals by name. Dean, the former governor of Vermont, has no significant foreign policy experience, while retired Gen. Wesley Clark has little experience with domestic policy. Sen. John Edwards was a trial lawyer until his election to the Senate in 1998.
Kerry, by contrast, is in his fourth Senate term.
Recent polls have indicated that Kerry has been gaining ground in New Hampshire, while Dean has fallen back closer to his pursuers.
Voter surveys in Iowa showed Kerry did well among voters who cited experience and the ability to beat President Bush as the most important candidate qualities. He did well among those who supported the war as well as those who strongly opposed it. Kerry voted for the congressional resolution authorizing the war but has been critical of Bush's post-war planning in Iraq.
The entrance poll of Iowa Democratic caucus-goers was conducted for the National Election Pool -- made up of The Associated Press and the TV networks -- by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.
On Tuesday, Kerry sought to capitalize on his Iowa success, appealing to supporters for campaign cash. The campaign had an influx of money within hours of his victory.
Kerry challenged donors to help him raise $365,000 over the Internet on Tuesday, marking the 365 days left before the 2005 inauguration, and he had collected $300,000 by late afternoon, spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said.