With little more than a week to go before the South Carolina primary, John Kerry publicly downplayed the importance of the South in any Democratic candidate's strategy to win the White House. ABC News reports that Kerry on Saturday "noted that former Vice President Al Gore would be president if he'd won any number of other non-Southern states in 2000, including New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Ohio. 'Everybody always makes the mistake of looking South,' Kerry said, in response to a question about winning the region. 'Al Gore proved he could have been president of the United States without winning one Southern state, including his own.'"
Dick Harpootlian, former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, told ABC that Kerry's message was the wrong one. Kerry's the only major candidate not running TV ads in South Carolina. Right now, he's running a close second to Edwards in one poll of likely S.C. primary voters.