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Kerry, the party's 2004 presidential nominee, has been acting like a 2008 candidate virtually since he lost to President Bush -- traveling the country, spreading money to other Democratic candidates, and keeping in place a campaign infrastructure that was ready for another presidential bid.
But according to Kerry associates, the senator's plans changed dramatically in the fallout of his election-eve ``botched joke" about the education levels of US troops. The harsh reaction to that incident -- from many Democrats as well as Republicans -- displayed to Kerry the extreme skepticism within his own party about whether he should mount another run.