updated 12/31/2003 1:42:18 PM ET 2003-12-31T18:42:18

With the first 2004 presidential contests just weeks away, several Democratic candidates are expanding their television advertising to states with primaries and caucuses beyond Iowa and New Hampshire.

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Wesley Clark is running his biographical ads in Tennessee, New Mexico and North Dakota beginning this week. Dick Gephardt just went on the air in Michigan and Oklahoma, broadcasting spots that previously ran in other states. And Joe Lieberman is starting a new ad Monday in South Carolina, Arizona and Oklahoma.

A few of the new buys are about $150,000 a week, a moderate amount, but many are less than $50,000, with ads airing in selected media markets instead of statewide, meaning they won’t reach a lot of voters.

Such modest buys are intended to give a candidate a presence in a given state, headlines in the local media and credibility with state politicians. They also energize supporters and appeal to potential fund-raisers.

'Trying to start a buzz'
“The candidates are trying to start a buzz to show they aren’t writing off that state,” said David Magleby, director for the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University.

Those running commercials are spending a majority of their television money in Iowa, which holds its caucuses Jan. 19; New Hampshire, which has its primary Jan. 27; and South Carolina, the most hotly contested state of the seven that will hold contests on Feb. 3.

Front-runner Howard Dean is running ads in those states and is broadcasting spots in New Mexico and Arizona. He intends to return to the airwaves soon in Oklahoma.

John Edwards continues to have a much more modest TV presence in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

John Kerry is on the air heavily in New Hampshire and Iowa, but campaign advisers say he has no immediate plans to expand his advertising elsewhere.

Clark, who is not competing in Iowa, has spent $3.5 million so far to run ads in New Hampshire, as well as in Arizona, South Carolina and Oklahoma. This week, he is spending about $150,000 to broadcast in all four media markets in Tennessee, which has its primary Feb. 10; about $60,000 to broadcast in one New Mexico market; and about $30,000 in two North Dakota markets. He plans to start running ads soon in Virginia and Wisconsin.

Gephardt's Iowa push
Gephardt, a Missouri congressman, has poured his ad money mostly into Iowa, his must-win state. He’s spent at least $1.5 million there and at least $250,000 in South Carolina. He has not been on the air in New Hampshire since early October. This week, Gephardt started broadcasting ads about health care and the middle class in Tulsa, Okla., spending under $50,000, and in several Michigan markets, with a buy of about $150,000.

Lieberman, the Connecticut senator who bypassed Iowa, has spent at least $750,000 so far to run ads in New Hampshire. He’s slated to spend about $70,000 in selected media markets next week in Arizona, and under $50,000 in South Carolina and Oklahoma markets. The ad will be new, but the campaign would not disclose details.

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