Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry will start running television ads today in all seven of the next states to hold primary contests, becoming the first to buy commercials in delegate-rich and ultra-expensive Missouri, his advisers said yesterday.
The multistate advertising blitz indicates that Mr. Kerry, a senator from Massachusetts, will compete for delegates in Arizona, South Carolina, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Delaware and North Dakota, which hold contests Feb. 3.
Three of his rivals — Wesley Clark, a retired Army general, and Sens. John Edwards of North Carolina and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut — are advertising only in states where they believe they have the best chance to pick up the most delegates. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is in the dark in all of those states as his campaign determines where to play after yesterday’s New Hampshire primary.
Mr. Kerry, whose fund-raising struggles late last year led him to pump in nearly $7 million of his own money, had focused all of his advertising dollars on two states. He spent about $2.5 million in Iowa and at least $2 million in media markets that reach New Hampshire voters.
Mr. Kerry’s surprise win in Iowa helped the campaign meet its goal of bringing in at least $1 million last week, a financial windfall that the campaign hopes will continue.
Missouri, with its 74 delegates, had been the only Feb. 3 state largely devoid of presidential-campaign ads. The candidates did not bother to advertise in the high-priced media markets of St. Louis and Kansas City because they figured that favorite son Rep. Richard A. Gephardt would win the state. They are reconsidering now that the congressman is no longer in the race.
Mr. Kerry’s rivals, meanwhile, have been on the air for weeks in some of the Tuesday states.
Mr. Clark, who did not compete in Iowa, has been on the air steadily in five of them. His advisers say that in the final week of campaigning he is continuing to run heavy levels of ads in South Carolina while pumping in considerably more money than he had been into Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and North Dakota.
He was slated to start running a new ad in those states last night that will claim he comes from a humble background and that he is the true outsider, compared with other Democrats in the field.
Meanwhile, Mr. Lieberman is running ads in four Feb. 3 states. And, Mr. Edwards is on the air in three after going up yesterday in New Mexico for the first time.
Mr. Dean stopped running ads entirely in South Carolina, New Mexico and Arizona over the weekend to focus advertising dollars on New Hampshire, where advisers say he has spent between $800,000 and $850,000 in the stretch run, significantly more than his opponents.
Campaign advisers said scaling back advertising in those states does not indicate that Mr. Dean, who raised $41 million last year, is short on cash.