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Kerry ads to hit next 7 states

John Kerry will begin airing TV ads today in all seven of the next states to hold contests, the first of the Democratic presidential candidates to buy commercials in delegate-rich and ultraexpensive Missouri.

The multistate advertising blitz indicates that Kerry will compete for delegates in Arizona, South Carolina, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Delaware and North Dakota, which will hold contests Tuesday, and can afford to do so.

Three of Kerry's rivals _ Wesley Clark, John Edwards and Joe Lieberman _ are advertising only in states where they think they have the best chance to pick up delegates. And Howard Dean is not on the air in any of those states as his campaign decides where to focus after New Hampshire.

Kerry, whose fundraising struggles late last year led him to pump in nearly $7-million of his own money, had focused all of his advertising dollars on two states. He spent about $2.5-million in Iowa and at least $2-million to reach New Hampshire voters.

Kerry's surprise win in Iowa helped the campaign meet its goal of raising at least $1-million last week, a financial windfall that the campaign hopes will continue after New Hampshire.

Missouri, with its 74 delegates, had been the only Feb. 3 state largely devoid of presidential campaign ads. The candidates figured that favorite son Dick Gephardt would win the state. They are reconsidering now that the congressman is no longer in the race.