MANCHESTER, N.H., SEPT. 24 -- Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) completed a painful journey here today, criss-crossing the country to thank shocked and saddened supporters for their efforts on behalf of his ill-fated presidential campaign and to signal his intention to run sometime in the future.

Forced out of the race by reports of law school plagiarism, the use of unattributed quotes in speeches and false academic claims, the 44-year-old, three-term senator and his family traveled from Wilmington to Des Moines and finally to this key primary state to meet behind closed doors with staff and the many Democratic activists who had joined his campaign.

In Des Moines, the signs and buttons read "Biden '92" as the fallen candidate was greeted with a shower of hugs, kisses and tearful embraces from more than 100 staffers and supporters of his campaign in Iowa, a key caucus state.

After meeting privately with them for half an hour, Biden appeared outside the storefront headquarters and said he "told all of them how much I appreciated what they have done for me."

"I have no rancor, no complaints," he said of the circumstances that led to his withdrawal. "Nobody did this to Joe Biden. There had to be something there for them {the news media} to stitch together a portrait -- even though I don't happen to think it was an accurate one.

"There will be other presidential campaigns, and I'll be there," Biden said. "I'm here to thank my supporters and tell them not to worry about me."

"The tragedy of this is that he is such a good man and the American people never got to know him," said John T. Broderick, who hosted the meeting for New Hampshire supporters in his law offices here. "If we get people who meet these tests of purity, you would not want to have a beer with them. It's not right, it's just not right."

Eileen Foley, former mayor of Portsmouth, N.H., and a cochairman of Biden's steering committee, said: "I'm heartbroken. I'm a political animal, but I do have feelings."

"He just basically said he intends to run in 1992 and that right now he will concentrate on his duties with the Bork nomination," said Ann Farley, Biden's Wilmington volunteer coordinator, after the Delaware meeting, referring to the Supreme Court nomination of Robert H. Bork pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Biden chairs.

In New Hampshire, Democratic state representative Lillian Soucy said, "I considered him more than a candidate for the presidency. He was a good friend."

Theodore Cusson, a Democratic organizer here, argued that "the senator should have stayed in and let us help work him out of this difficult situation." A danger now, Cusson said, is that "when a candidate hits a wall, they pull up stakes and stop" instead of giving the voters a chance to speak.

Several supporters said they thought that Biden would have been able to survive the storm of negative publicity were it not for a videotape showing him reacting angrily -- and misstating his academic credentials -- to a teacher at a New Hampshire campaign stop who asked about his school record. The incident occurred in April, but was not widely publicized until Biden's other troubles began to mount.

Biden appeared to agree on the tape's effect. "I can remember my dear mother, God bless her, telling me ever since I can remember, 'Joey Biden, some day your temper is going to get you in real trouble' -- and boy, did it," he said.

Lowell Junkins, one of Biden's Iowa cochairmen, said he would try to keep Biden activists -- about 2,000 of them -- together so they could be in a position to move en masse to another candidate. Others expressed skepticism that that could be done, noting that Biden's appeal tended to be personal rather than ideological. Staff writer Paul Taylor contributed to this report.