In a packed auditorium here tonight, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) faced the first question of his presidential campaign about his cheating on a test when he was a student at Harvard.

He answered angered the television network crews who are covering him -- not because of what he said, but because their cameras were unable to record it. Kennedy's press secretary Tom Southwick, moments earlier had walked over and unplugged the network pool lights after the senator complained they were blinding him.

Scott Kleinschmidt, of Morristown, N.J., a freshman at Keene State College, asked Kennedy whether he believed it is important to have an honest president, and how Kennedy could explain his expulsion from Harvard.

Kennedy replied: "Of course it is" important to have an honest president.

"About my being expelled from Harvard," he continued, "I made a mistake as a schoolboy and had someone else take an exam and I caused a great deal of suffering to the members of my family, which I have regretted the whole part of my life."

Kleinschmidt reportedly had been prevented from bringing into the auditorium a sign that read, "Remember Chappaquiddick . . . Better Dead than Ted," a slogan associated with the presidential campaign of Lyndon LaRouche, former head of the U.S. Labor Party and a Democratic candidate for president.

The crowd of about 1,000 at Kenne Junior High School was the most enthusiastic so far in Kennedy's New Hampshire campaign.

Southwick, questioned after the event by irate reporters and network correspondents, apologized.

"I acted precipitously and will not do it again," he said. "I was thinking of the senator's ability to see the people with the lights in his eyes."

He noted that the senator had complained of this problem in the past. Southwick added that he had not known about the Harvard question until someone told him about it later.