NASHUA, N.H. – Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry (search) went door to door in frigid temperatures Sunday, looking for every possible vote before this state holds the nation's first primary contest in two days.
"I'm energized," said Kerry, a Massachusetts senator, adding that he would leave no stone unturned in his search for votes.
After knocking on doors in Merrimack, Kerry joined Sen. Edward Kennedy (search), D-Mass., and former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (search) for noisy campaign rallies aimed at creating a sense of urgency for Tuesday's primary.
Polls show Kerry, who won Iowa last week, building upon his lead over fellow New Englander Howard Dean in the closing days of the campaign.
At one stop, Kerry accused Dean of "flip-flops" on major issues and said his own strength is "the consistency of my positions."
He told David and Diana Frothingham that Dean is weak on foreign policy issues, and favors higher taxes for middle-class voters.
"The Republicans will just kill us on this," Kerry said. "Between foreign policy and taxes, I think it is a serious problem."
The Frothinghams described themselves as undecided, and remained so after a 10-minute chat with Kerry in their driveway.
"It's helpful, but we have to think about it," Mrs. Frothingham said. She said the couple was trying to decide between Kerry and Dean.
"I'm making progress," Kerry said, as he slogged down a road in his door-to-door pursuit of votes. "I've already gotten three votes."
While he was tweaking Dean mildly on the stump, Kerry was headed to the high road on the airwaves. He began running a recycled positive television commercial Sunday touting his endorsement of New Hampshire newspapers and voters.
The spot has been updated to include the backing of the League of Conservation Voters, an endorsement he collected over the weekend.
He won over Rebecca Lambert, a multiple sclerosis sufferer who said she has had to continue working as a teacher to keep her health coverage. She signed on after a private chat with Kerry about his health care plan.
"He was very nice, very personable," Lambert said.
Kerry said complacency was his enemy and insisted the contest was up for grabs. "I think we have a strong contest. I've never said otherwise."
Kerry sought to avoid the label of front-runner.
"I hate the word and I'm telling you I'm fighting for every vote," Kerry said on "Fox News Sunday." He pledged a vigorous, closing two-day blitz. "We're working right up until the last minute," Kerry said.
He also dismissed his lofty standing ahead of his rivals, saying: "I'm not here to talk about polls and I don't look at polls."
Later, more than 2,000 people packed a high school gymnasium for a noisy rally with Shaheen and Kennedy, a liberal and favorite of Democrats. Joining them was Kennedy's son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., bringing some of New England's most popular politicians together to rally supporters.
"I'm here because I believe he has a heart and soul that is built on strength, that is built on determination, that has steeliness," said the elder Kennedy said, lauding Kerry's background as a Vietnam War hero. "There's no one in America better prepared to take that office."
As Kerry focused on closing out New Hampshire, aides were planning for a broad competition in the seven states with contests on Feb. 3, including Missouri. That state suddenly fell back into play when favorite son Rep. Dick Gephardt folded his presidential campaign last week.
Kerry is opening a campaign office in Missouri and actively courting top Democrats, though he's not in direct contact with Gephardt. "I'm not actively talking to him about that," Kerry said.
Plans call for an ambitious campaign schedule heading into the Feb. 3 contests, with Kerry visiting Missouri, South Carolina and Delaware before heading west to campaign in Arizona and New Mexico.