MANCHESTER N.H. — Moving on from soft-spoken finishes in
the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, former Vermont
Gov. Howard Dean continues to develop his image as the ideal
Washington outsider set out to reshape the presidency.
“We’ve got a strategy and a good organization to win
everywhere and we’re going to try to get as many delegates as we
can everywhere,” Dean told the Associated Press
One of the primaries Dean still hopes to clinch is
Arizona’s, which will take place next Tuesday.
In his remarks made Monday before New Hampshire voters took to
the polls, Dean repeatedly portrayed himself as he has for the bulk
of his campaign: the embodiment of a core democratic value —
the right to speak one’s mind no matter how unpopular
Compared to politicians such as Sens. Joe Lieberman of
Connecticut and John Kerry from Massachusetts, Dean is somewhat
left-of-center, in that he does not want to cast himself as a
doppleganger of President Bill Clinton.
During his tenure as governor, for example, he advocated
socially liberal policies, most notably one granting same-sex
couples economic benefits for civil unions made in his state.
Nearly all states do not even recognize such unions.
In his remarks made Monday, he reaffirmed his support for gay
marriages. “This election is not about changing presidents,
it’s about changing America,” Dean said. In saying so,
Dean redrew a distinction he has often drawn between himself and
those he says are Washington insiders.
To this end, he reiterated his unflinching opposition to the
Iraq war, which Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, Kerry and
Lieberman supported by voting for a 2002 resolution authorizing the
use of force in that country. Dean attacked the war on several
fronts. He dismissed the allegations of links between Iraq and
al-Qaida made before the war began.
But he later claimed al-Qaida is aiding the Iraqi insurgency,
which has continued long after Bush declared the end of major
combat operations. The former governor also cast doubt on claims by
the Bush administration that Iraq was manufacturing weapons of mass
Dean rejected depictions of the war as a clash of civilizations.
“The notion that there’s a civil war between East and
West is nonsense. There’s a civil war between radicals and
moderates within Muslim society.” As to how he would remedy
the problem of state-sponsored terrorism, Dean said he would seek
out renewable sources of energy so as to lessen U.S. reliance upon
Midle Eastern nations for oil.
Unlike his anti-war counterpart Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio,
Dean has said he would not pull American troops out of Iraq.
Kucinich, whose platform would remove all American forces from Iraq
in the first 90 days of his term, accused Dean of not having a
clear plan for U.S. withdrawal from the rough-and-tumble nation.
“I want to internationalize the reconstruction of
Iraq,” Dean said. He said he believes the unilateralism of
the Bush administration has alienated America from the
international community. “We’ve lost our moral
leadership under this president,” Dean said. He later called
Bush’s suspension of cordial diplomatic relations with
Mexican president Vicente Fox “the most foolish thing Bush
did in office.” Mexico’s relationship with the U.S. was
strained when Fox refused to support the U.S.-led war on Iraq.
Dean also advocates multilateralism in dealing with countries
such as Iran, where he said a strong youth culture is agitating the
theocracy for democratic change. If the U.S. interfered in that
“nationalist, proud nation” as Dean called it,
“we would undercut the very democratic forces we want to
help.” Dean has adhered steadfastly to his claim that
multilateral diplomacy could have unseated the Baath Party in Iraq
and that a preemptive strike was not necessary.
But Dean’s stances on the war have earned him much
criticism — particularly a December statement in which he
argued that America Saddam’s ouster did not make America
safer and that Osama bin Laden deserves a fair trial if caught.
“I was not against removing Saddam Hussein,” he said
Monday. He then promised to “embark on a foreign policy
principally based not on confrontation but cooperation.”
As an example of such a policy, he said the U.S. should play
peace broker in the Mideast peace process.
In his pre-primary speech, Dean tackled another hot-button issue
of the presidential race: health care. “We are the only
industrialized nation without universal health care,” Dean
said, after naming a litany of countries with coverage for all
their citizens. He also took issue with the prescription drug plan
passed during the first session of the 108th Congress in
“The president took the side of the drug companies over
the side of the American people,” he said. Dean portrayed the
plan as a profit-sharing venture for health maintenance
organizations and pharmaceuticals. The governor proposed universal
health care as an alternative without offering specifics. However,
his plan harks back to initiatives taken in Vermont, where 90
percent of children have health care coverage following legislation
Dean initiated in the mid-1990s.
Dean is one of few Democratic candidates who have promised to
making balancing the federal budget a priority of their first
presidential terms. Alluding to $500 billion in budget deficits run
up by the Bush Administration, Dean extended his criticism of the
president to his handling of the economy — the most salient
issue in the year’s election, according to some polls. Dean
contrasted 11 years of balanced budgets under his stewardship in
Vermont with record shortfalls in national coffers under Bush. In
Vermont, Dean’s administration balanced the budget without
cutting K-12 or higher education. He suggested Monday that this
could be done at the federal level.
“As governor, I was conservative about money and socially
progressive,” he said. As evidence of the latter of the two
claims, Dean cited his support of affirmative action in the
workplace. He related how as governor, his office employed more
women than men. But Dean was recently accused by fellow candidate
Rev. Al Sharpton of not selecting any black or Latino cabinet
members during his 12-year long tenure as Vermont governor.
Throughout his speech, Dean characterized Bush and his own
Democratic competitors as beneficiaries of the Washington spoils
“We don’t go down there to Washington on bended knee
(to cater to special interests),” said Dean. He credited his
fundraising success to the mass participation of small donors
instead of a cadre of wealthy contributors. Dean’s charisma,
grassroots efforts and youth appeal may not be enough to secure a
win in face of the Kerry bandwagon effect after the Iowa caucuses.
New Hampshire is being called another four-man race, with no clear
victor in sight.
Democratic candidates ’04
Former governor of Vermont (1991-2002), medical doctor.
- Balance the federal budget, now $500 billion in the red.
- Repeal all of the Bush tax cuts.
- Students who go into public service “will never pay more
than 7% of their income — if they enter fields such as
nursing, teaching, law enforcement, or firefighting in high-need