Kerry Plays Psychological Game With Competitors

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Presidential candidate John Kerry has been passing notes on the Senate floor, assuring his southern Democratic colleagues that he plans to compete in their home states.

The Massachusetts senator distributed verbatim text of remarks he gave earlier this month at a fund-raiser in California when he was asked about his chances in the conservative-leaning South.

Kerry slipped the note, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, to a few colleagues Wednesday while the Senate deliberated the budget. He was prompted by a story Monday in The State newspaper of Columbia, S.C., titled, "Kerry might have written off the South," that referred to his speech.

"Al Gore proved that you can get elected president of the United States without winning one Southern state -- if he had simply won New Hampshire or West Virginia or Ohio or Colorado or a number of other states," Kerry said at the fund-raiser. "We are the leaders. Democrats have to stop looking at the small solution that the country is compartmentalized in that way."

Kerry decided Southern senators should see the complete text, in which he says he will campaign in the South and already has a presence there.

Several of Kerry's rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, including Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, have responded to Kerry's remarks by saying they planned to campaign in every region of the country.

The note was marked "Personal, From John Kerrry, To Senator," and contained only the 21-line quote. His name was misspelled with an extra letter "R."