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Kerry tests waters for White House bid

Massachusetts senator says 2004 committee to be formed

U.S. Sen. John Kerry says he will file papers this week to establish a presidential exploratory committee.
U.S. Sen. John Kerry says he will file papers this week to establish a presidential exploratory committee.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, announced Sunday he will take the first step toward a 2004 presidential bid by filing papers this week to establish an exploratory campaign committee.

Kerry told NBC's "Meet the Press" that he discussed the matter over the weekend with his family and advisers.

"It's a enormous step, and it's not one I take lightly," the junior senator from Massachusetts said. "But it's one I'm excited about."

Kerry said he was going to file papers with the Federal Election Commission to establish a presidential exploratory committee and would begin trying to establish a national campaign this week.

He said Americans are living with a "deep anxiety over security" that transcends what he called a narrow vision offered by the Bush administration.

"I think the country is in a very different place than many people in Washington think it is and certainly that this administration thinks it is," Kerry said. "On almost every issue facing the country, I believe there is a better choice for this nation."

Kerry, who will be 59 on December 11, was a decorated Navy officer in Vietnam and became an antiwar activist on his return home. In congressional testimony in 1971, he asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

He voted against committing U.S. troops in the 1991 Persian Gulf War but supported the October congressional resolution authorizing the use of force to disarm Iraq in the current standoff.

Kerry said that Americans are concerned about "job security, income security, retirement security, health security, education security, physical, personal security and of course national security."

But he rejected President Bush's call for more tax cuts to ease economic problems.

"No new tax cuts," he said, echoing the first President Bush's famous "Read my lips, no new taxes" quote from the 1988 campaign. "We can't go on any longer pretending we can have everything."

Kerry was first elected to the Senate in 1984 after serving as Massachusetts' lieutenant governor and as a state prosecutor.

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