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John Kerry staff

Tad Devine, Mary Beth Cahill, Stephanie Cutter, Mike Donilon, Mark Mellman, and Chad Clanton, senior staffers of US Sen. John Kerry's Democratic presidential campaign, were Thursday's guests. Here are excerpts from their remarks:

On where the race stands:

(Devine) "George Bush is weaker today than any elected incumbent has ever been in the last 50 years, and John Kerry is stronger than any challenger has been."

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On taking the race to Republican (red) states:

(Devine) "We have taken this race to the red states and it is our intention to expand the playing field further into the red states.... We are going to put them on the defensive."

On Iraq as an election issue:

(Donilon) "[Bush] is not going to be in a position of saying Kerry has moved his position. [Bush] is going to be in the position of explaining to us why he moved to Kerry's position and why he moved so late."

On whether Kerry's ties to Sen. Edward Kennedy will hurt in the general election:

(Cahill) "He has been an enormous help for Senator Kerry in the course of this race. So it is not like we are suddenly going to rewrite history. [Kennedy] has been around the block a few times and so he is very clear on what his strengths are and where he can be useful to a Democratic nominee."

On Democrats' worries:

(Donilon) "The principal reason Democrats have been as worried as they are is because of the [Bush campaign's] money.... There is a presumption that no one can take this much money attacking them and survive it."