Dean Welcomes 2nd Place

This time, Howard Dean (search) kept his suitcoat on and his emotions in check.

The former Vermont governor accepted his second-place finish in New Hampshire (search) on Tuesday with restraint and pronounced it good enough to propel him forward toward the Democratic presidential nomination.

He was careful to avoid any of the theatrics that accompanied his screaming, arm-waving speech a week earlier in Iowa, where he finished a distant third.

"Stand with us until the very end, which is January 20, 2005," Dean told New Hampshire campaign workers.

"The people of New Hampshire have allowed our campaign to regain its momentum and I am very grateful," he said.

Just two weeks ago, Dean held a double-digit advantage in polls of New Hampshire voters, but his lead evaporated in the wake of his poor Iowa showing and the much-talked-about speech.

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Dean, a former governor of neighboring Vermont, was hoping for a strong second-place finish in New Hampshire that would help him recover his battered image and diminished war chest. He said he couldn't overcome the Iowa loss or relentless criticism he received as the one-time front-runner in time to win New Hampshire.

He said his outsider's message would carry him forward to the nomination.

"I think the only way we're going to beat George Bush is for someone to come from outside Washington," Dean said, a not-so-subtle criticism of New Hampshire victor John Kerry (search) and other rivals for the nomination.

Dean spokeswoman Tricia Enright predicted Kerry would face similar treatment now that he's a two-state winner.

"We'll see if John Kerry can take the number of body blows that Howard Dean did and still be standing," Enright said.

With the next round of voting just seven days away, Dean will spend Wednesday huddled with staff in his hometown of Burlington, Vt., plotting strategy. He'll also spend four hours on television interviews being sent by satellite to 12 upcoming primary states.

Dean plans to devote at least two days competing with South Carolina favorite John Edwards, a senator from neighboring North Carolina. Dean plans to campaign Thursday in Greenville, site of a debate that evening, then Friday in the Columbia area.

Then he plans to split his time between states that hold their votes next Tuesday and some that hold later nominating contests. Early plans call for him to visit St. Louis, Albuquerque, N.M. and Phoenix, which the campaign considers some of his strongest base of support on Feb. 3, but also visit Seattle, Madison, Wis., Detroit and Lansing, Mich.

Michigan and Washington state hold caucuses on Feb. 7. Wisconsin's primary is 10 days later.

"We're optimistic," Dean told supporters from 25 states in a conference call Tuesday night. "We've got a full schedule for the next 10 days in 12 states."

A senior Dean adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity, said several Dean advisers had urged Dean to pick fewer targets, cherrypicking a few states to conserve resources. But the former governor vetoed the strategy, insisting that his campaign was muscular enough to compete nationally.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Dean acknowledged that aides urged him to skip South Carolina. "There was some discussion about it," he said. "I never gave it any thought

Dean raised more than $200,000 in the 24 hours before the primary, but he has been spending money just as fast -- and he will keep up the pricey pace with his new strategy.

He will bypass Oklahoma, North Dakota and Delaware, three of the cheaper states.

An exit poll conducted for The Associated Press showed Dean was strongest among New Hampshire voters who consider themselves very liberal, were opposed to the war, were angry at Bush, and who thought the most important candidate quality was standing up for what they believe. He lagged behind Kerry among voters who most wanted a candidate who could beat Bush and a candidate who had the most experience.

Almost third of voters said they do not think Dean has the temperament to be president.

While Kerry had a 3-1 lead among those who decided early in the last week, Dean and Kerry were about even among those who decided in the last three days, suggesting Dean was able to stop his slide.