MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, claiming a 'terrific boost' from his convincing win in neighboring New Hampshire, set his sights Tuesday on the South and vowed a strong showing in Dixie.
'The people of the South are not voting for a zip code,' the Democratic presidential hopeful told an enthusiastic victory party Tuesday night. 'They're voting for a president of the United States.'
The next big political test is March 8, known as Super Tuesday, when 20 states, many of them southern, hold primaries or caucuses.
Claiming victory at a University of New Hampshire rally, Dukakis had a gold medal placed around his neck by his wife Kitty. Dukakis said he was pleased with his strong third-place showing in Iowa's Feb. 8 caucuses, and had aimed higher in New Hampshire.
'I always wanted to be an Olympic champion,' Dukakis said, referring to the medal. 'I love the people of New Hampshire. They've been terrific.'
'Last week in Iowa our message started to shine through, and we won a bronze. Tonight here in New Hampshire, our message came through loud and clear. We went for the gold and we won it.'
The Massachusetts governor, who finished behind Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri and Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois in Iowa, was expected to easily win in New Hampshire, where he is popular for his opposition to the coastal Seabrook nuclear plant.
Claiming victory, he sought to project a national appeal.
'The combination of a very good showing in Iowa and a very good victory in New Hampshire demonstrates that this is truly a national candidacy,' said Dukakis, who was scheduled to move his campaign to Georgia and Florida on Wednesday.
'The fact of the matter is, I don't have a southern strategy, I don't have a northern strategy. I have an American strategy,' Dukakis told his joyous supporters, who shouted 'Duke, Duke, Duke.'
Yet he predicted a strong showing in the South.
'This is a terrific boost for us,' he said. 'I think we're going to surprise some people down there. The South is wide open and we're going to work very hard to win our share of delegates.
'I think Florida and Texas are both promising states for us,' he said. 'I think we have a good chance of doing well in states like Georgia and Florida.'
The victory party was held in an old converted mill building on the University of New Hampshire's Manchester campus, where he announced his candidacy for the presidency last year.
Hundreds cheered as the band played a Neil Diamond's song about 'coming to America.' Dukakis's father settled in Manchester, New Hampshire's largest city, when he immigrated from Greece 75 years ago.