Kerry thanks Iowans for victory

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – John Kerry made a stop Saturday along the route of explorers Lewis and Clark as he headed to the Democratic National Convention on what he hopes will be his own historic trail.

“We go to Boston, to the birthplace of the revolution of America and the possibilities of the future,” the presidential candidate said from a pavilion along the Missouri River. “And from there we go to the White House.”

Kerry promised to “fight for the little person” and thanked Iowa for giving him his first victory that has led to his impending nomination.

“Last fall, all the people who know everything would have told you there will never be a guy named John on the national ticket of the Democratic Party,” Kerry said. “And Iowa listened, and Iowa worked, and Iowa knew better.”

Democrats Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt were considered the front-runners heading into Iowa’s caucuses last January, but Kerry scored a surprising come-from-behind win that set him on course for the nomination.

Kerry’s speech was on “America’s can-do spirit,” a theme tied to the campaign’s plan to stay upbeat in the lead-up to the convention. Kerry did not mention his rival by name, but still had harsh words for President Bush’s military leadership as he described his own experience as an officer in the Vietnam War.

“I came back from a war that lost the consent of the American people,” Kerry said. “I came back from a war where people had lied about what was happening. I came back from a war where the nation had lost interest but the soldiers were still on the front lines. And I saw what happens and I know in my gut that this nation has always been guided by a different set of values.”

He encouraged his supporters to rally friends who don’t vote. “Knock them on the head and say, ‘Wait a minute, there are better choices for this country.’”

The site of Kerry’s rally, along the river that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark explored 200 years ago, was chosen in part because of Kerry’s fascination with their journey.

“He loves history,” Teresa Heinz Kerry said as she introduced her husband. “And he reads history. He actually reads.”

Associated Press

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry greets supporters Saturday in Sioux City, Iowa.

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