- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 19, 2004

BOSTON — Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry yesterday rallied his staunchest and longest-running supporters, promising 1,000 donors at a dinner here that he’s now in fighting trim for the stretch run to the Nov. 2 election.

“These folks have got me in a fighting mood. When I get in a fighting mood at the end of September and the beginning of October — you know what happens here in Massachusetts,” said Mr. Kerry, who Democrats say has a history of finishing strongly in elections.

Seeking to stem a sense of worry among Democrats across the country that his campaign has stumbled since the end of the Democratic National Convention here in July, Mr. Kerry told his longtime supporters that he feels the race changing.

“This race — I feel those October juices flowing — I’ve been at this for a while, and when those juices get flowing, I feel good,” said Mr. Kerry, who for nearly 20 years has been the junior senator from this state.

Polls on the campaign are wildly divergent. Many show the race within a point or two, but the latest Gallup survey shows Mr. Bush leading by 13 percentage points, and the CBS-New York Times poll shows the president with a nine-point lead.

Still, on Friday, Kerry adviser Joe Lockhart told reporters the campaign believes the race has returned to where it was just before the Republican convention.

“As we sit here today, we are looking at a race that is very tight both nationally and tight in the battleground states,” he said. “This is a race that fundamentally and structurally has not changed for some time. And we are, I think, very pleased with the position we’re in.”

Mr. Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, said last night she believes now is Mr. Kerry’s time.

“I think it is interesting as the only senator from the class of 1984, he’s the only one who has not run for president, which, of course, is not a reason to run for president,” she said. “But he’s been accumulating hours and knowledge, and I think that this is his time.”

In his brief remarks last night, Mr. Kerry took a couple of shots at Mr. Bush.

“It’s very clear to me that we’re going to win this race because, number one, the fund-raisers are going to keep doing what they’re doing; number two, the volunteers are going to keep doing what they’re doing; and number three, George Bush is going to keep doing what he’s doing,” Mr. Kerry said.

At another point, Mr. Kerry said that, by pursuing the war in Iraq, Mr. Bush has made it impossible for the United States to help out in Sudan.

“We’re not even able to move because we’re bogged down in Iraq. We’ve lost our moral authority,” he said.

Mr. Kerry thanked supporters last night for being the backbone of his campaign.

“We wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for your incredible support over 20 years,” he said.

The event last night raised $2.5 million for the Democratic National Committee’s 2004 victory fund. Alan Solomont, chairman of Mr. Kerry’s Massachusetts campaign-finance committee, said that Massachusetts donors have given $20 million overall to Mr. Kerry’s campaign since the beginning.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Kerry taped the “Dr. Phil” show, and the candidate said he talked with the host, Texas psychologist Phil McGraw, about parenting and families.

“It was fun to be with a prominent Texan who tells the truth,” Mr. Kerry said.

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