Kennedy Sent On Kerry Stump Task

Sen. John Kerry (search) of Massachusetts sent the senior senator from his home state, Edward Kennedy (search), into upstate New York on Friday to drum up support just four days before the crucial "Super Tuesday" primary.

And, Kerry picked up endorsements from a group of top New York supporters of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's defunct presidential bid.

Kerry's chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. John Edwards (search) of North Carolina, has been hitting the traditionally more conservative upstate region hard in search of votes.

Edwards has been telling voters that he will be better at stopping the flow of manufacturing jobs overseas than will Kerry.

Kennedy, however, told a half-filled union hall in Albany that it was Kerry who was the real friend of labor.

"John Kerry is out there for everyone of these gut issues you and I care about," Kennedy told almost 200 people at the union hall.

Kennedy noted that he had been in the Senate since 1962 and served all 42 years on the Labor Committee. He told the Kerry supporters that, unlike President Bush, Kerry would not try to end some overtime for workers.

"Mr. President, we're going to take your overtime away," thundered Kennedy as the crowd cheered.

Kennedy was headed for a later stop Friday in Syracuse and planned another rally for Kerry in Rochester on Saturday.

Both Edwards and Kerry were headed to upstate New York on Sunday after joining Al Sharpton and Rep. Dennis Kucinich in New York City for the final debate before the "Super Tuesday" voting in New York, California and eight other states.

Meanwhile, Kerry staged a conference call Friday welcoming former top New York supporters of Dean who have decided to back the Massachusetts senator.

"As former Dean supporters, we know that John, a great progressive and a distinguished man of conviction, will lead the Democrats to victory," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler of Manhattan.

Other congressmen switching from Dean to Kerry included Major Owens of Brooklyn, Joseph Crowley of Queens and Maurice Hinchey of Ulster County.

Other former Dean supporters signing on with the Kerry campaign included state Assemblyman Bill Parment of Chautauqua County in western New York and Stu Brody, Essex County party chairman and head of the New York party's Democratic Rural Conference.

"I think he's been graceful and showed the mark of a leader in the way he's talked about the urgency of defeating George Bush," Kerry said of Dean during his conference call with his new New York supporters.

Edwards has also picked up former Dean supporters in New York, including Eric Schmeltzer, who served as Dean's deputy campaign manager in the state.

Kerry also picked up the endorsement Friday of the Middletown Times Herald-Record.

"The time is right to explain why Kerry, not Edwards, should be the Democratic candidate," the newspaper said. "One word: gravitas."

"In a fascinating campaign phenomenon, Kerry's perceived weakness in early polling — his seriousness of purpose and lengthy government service — have transformed into his primary assets," the paper said.