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Dean rallies supporters after third-place finish

Former Iowa front-runner: 'We've got a 50-state organization'

Dean exhorts supporters to keep up the fight after his third-place finish in Iowa.
Dean exhorts supporters to keep up the fight after his third-place finish in Iowa.

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Howard Dean pumps up his supporters during an early morning rally Tuesday in New Hampshire.
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Despite his third-place finish in Iowa, Dean fires up his supporters there, promising not to give up the fight.
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CNN's Jeanne Meserve on the Democrats' next battleground: New Hampshire.
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DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) -- Howard Dean didn't let the sting of dropping from lauded front-runner to third place in the Iowa caucuses keep his spirits down Monday evening.

He ripped off his suit coat and pumped his fist in the air to chants of "Dean, Dean, Dean," as the former Vermont governor exhorted his cheering supporters.

"Not only are we going to New Hampshire ... we're going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico," Dean said with his voice rising. "We're going to California and Texas and New York. We're going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan. Then we're going to Washington D.C. to take back the White House."

The crowd roared in response.

"We will not quit, now or ever," Dean said. "We want our country back for ordinary Americans." (Transcript)

Dean had led many polls in Iowa until a week before the caucuses. Yet Dean dismissed the thought that he failed to meet expectations and instead provided his own spin.

"You know something? If you had told us one year ago that we're going to come in third in Iowa, we would have given anything for that."

He acknowledged that some of his supporters may have been disappointed but used the excited crowd to play down that thought.

"You have already got the picture here," Dean said. "I was about to say I'm sure there's some disappointed people here."

In an earlier interview on CNN's "Larry King Live," Dean said he was not disappointed by the results and congratulated the Iowa caucuses' top two finishers -- Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina.

Dean praised the cheering crowd of supporters at his Iowa campaign headquarters for keeping focusing on the race ahead.

Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi said his candidate's message was "drowned out" by the negative campaigning of his rivals targeting him as the front-runner. Trippi said the third-place finish carries at least one benefit.

At least Dean's opponents "won't be whacking us for a while," he said.

Even before the results began coming in, Dean had planned to fly to New Hampshire for a late-night rally.

During his interview with CNN, he looked past Iowa.

"We've got a 50-state organization," he said. "We're determined to win."

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