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US Democratic Party Presidential Candidates Hold Debate Before Primary

The Democratic candidates running for U.S. president gathered in Manchester, New Hampshire Thursday for a debate before next Tuesday's first-in-the nation primary. Polls show that Senator John Kerry has surged to the lead in New Hampshire.

Just weeks ago Massachusetts Senator John Kerry's campaign was struggling here in New Hampshire, but after this week's surprise victory in the Iowa caucuses, polls show him ahead of former frontrunner Howard Dean.

Mr. Dean spent his day campaigning here and trying to explain his fiery concession speech after coming in third in Iowa, a speech that has drawn sharp criticism and negative publicity from some political analysts.

The former Vermont governor says he was simply responding to the "passion" of his volunteers. "Now I am not a perfect person. I have got plenty of warts. I say what I think, I lead with my heart. All I can promise you is that I am going to deliver on what I say," he said.

Just released surveys of voters in New Hampshire show retired General Wesley Clark running third, behind Senator Kerry and Governor Dean.

General Clark skipped the Iowa caucuses to focus his campaign on New Hampshire.

The retired general says he is not concerned about his showing in the polls. "I am not paying any attention to the polls," he said. "I am looking at what I see in the voters. I shake hands, look people in the eye and I feel very good about New Hampshire and about all of the races across this country."

North Carolina Senator John Edwards, who surprised many political observers with his second place finish in Iowa, is now being forced to explain an internal campaign memo advising his workers on how they should criticize other candidates in the race.

Senator Edwards, who has built an image as a candidate who avoids negative attacks, says the memo should never have been written.