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Voting Begins in Closely-Watched New Hampshire Democratic Primary - 2004-01-27

Voters in New Hampshire head to the polls Tuesday in a presidential primary that could have a major impact on the battle for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

Seven Democrats are vying for the right to challenge President Bush in the November election, and the polls indicate Massachusetts Senator John Kerry is leading former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.

Mr. Dean rallied supporters at a campaign appearance in Portsmouth on the eve of the primary. "What we want more than anything is a president who will begin again to appeal to the very best in us and stop appealing to the very worst in us. We can do better than this," he said.

The candidates spent a last frenzied day of campaigning Monday, trying to sway the remaining pool of undecided voters.

After candidates Kerry and Dean, there appears to be a close battle for third place here in New Hampshire among retired General Wesley Clark, North Carolina Senator John Edwards and Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman.

The top finishers in New Hampshire can expect a boost for their presidential hopes as the campaign prepares to head south and west for a total of seven primaries next week.