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Kerry to GOP: 'Bring it on'

He urges supporters to keep working after primary win

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry comfortably won the New Hampshire primary.
Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry comfortably won the New Hampshire primary.

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CNN's Kelly Wallace reports on the momentum that carried Sen. John Kerry to victory in New Hampshire.
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Kerry defends his voting record and says he is ready to debate President Bush
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Kerry addresses supporters after claiming victory in New Hampshire
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MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) -- Riding high after back-to-back wins in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. John Kerry challenged President Bush and the GOP to start attacking him.

"I look forward to talking to real Americans about the real issues, and I'll tell you, we're ready. Bring it on," Kerry told CNN after being asked about the GOP characterizing him as a liberal.

"We are going to have a heck of a good debate in this country, and, look, if balancing the budget is called 'liberal' in America, let's go. You can go ahead and call me that," he said. "People are fed up with the labels. They want real leadership and real programs."

Just a month ago, Kerry trailed in New Hampshire polls by wide margins. Tuesday, he came away with a double-digit victory, eight days after winning the Iowa caucuses.

In his victory speech, Kerry asked Democrats across the country to unite to help him beat President Bush and "demand a government that's on your side again."

He also pledged to "shut down every loophole, every incentive, every reward that goes to some Benedict Arnold CEO or company that take the jobs overseas and stick Americans with the bill."

After his second victory in as many weeks, a confident Kerry acted like a man who wanted to be the new sheriff in Washington.

"I have a message for the influence peddlers, for the polluters, the HMOs, the big drug companies that get in the way, the big oil and the special interests -- who now call the White House their home," Kerry said. "We're coming. You're going. And don't let the door hit you on the way out."

Kerry was flanked by his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry and former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia -- one of the Vietnam veteran whom Kerry credits for helping revive his campaign -- as well as campaign workers and union members.

"I love New Hampshire," he said. "I make this pledge to you tonight: I have spent my whole life fighting for what I think is right and against powerful special interests, and I have only just begun to fight," Kerry said to roars of approval.

Kerry campaign aides called the win "historic," saying that no one has staged such a comeback in New Hampshire. It may also mean more cash for the Massachusetts senator. Contributions jumped after his win in Iowa.

'I have only just begun the fight'

Kerry urged his supporters to keep his campaign's momentum going.

"This campaign goes on to places all over the country and I ask Democrats everywhere to join us so we can defeat George W. Bush and the economy of privilege, and so that we can fulfill the ideal of opportunity, not just for some, but for all Americans," Kerry said.

Sheila Rothman, 72, traveled to Manchester from Palm Beach County, Florida. After the contested presidential election in her state in 2000, Rothman says she called Democratic headquarters and said "I want to work for whoever is going to defeat [Florida Governor] Jeb Bush and George W. Bush."

Resting against a wall after a night standing on her feet, she said, "We have to get the vote out this time," she said. "We cannot afford a close race, we need to have a decisive win. We have more Democrats than Republicans, and we shall win in November."

Help also arrived from overseas. Stacey Williams, from Killarny in County Kerry, Ireland, was holding a large poster reading "County Kerry, Ireland for Kerry." She said the Irish media are following the race closely.

The senator is looking ahead to the primaries and caucuses that seven states are holding February 3, and will leave New Hampshire on Wednesday for stops in South Carolina, Missouri, Arizona, New Mexico, Delaware, Oklahoma and North Dakota, according to his campaign.


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