Blog Chat with Howard Dean

on BlogForAmerica, June 9, 2004

Moderator/Gov. Dean: While we are waiting make sure you have read the personal story about health care on the blog.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Sorry I'm late.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: I wanted to start with the story about health insurance because after all politics

Moderator/Gov. Dean: and changing America really comes down to the struggles of ordinary Americans, and ahealth insurance is something that most

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Americans really struggle with. I hope that we're going to become a country

Moderator/Gov. Dean: where ordinary Americans can expect that when they work hard they will have economic security and health care

Moderator/Gov. Dean: which citizens of every other industrialized country can count on will be the centerpiece of a Kerry administration.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Thanks so much for all your help and support. Our candidates are really doing well around the country.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: I hope I will see you out there as I travel on their behalf.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Joan in Florida - Gov. Dean, Thanks for coming. Are you giving Senator Kerry some private suggestions for improving his campaigning techniques which seem to lack the vigor and enthusiasm needed to keep voters interested and which comes so naturally to you?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: John's campaign is doing better then the national press is reporting it.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: I've been on the road with him. He has a good message which is well recieved, particularly about economics.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Check him out when he comes to a city near you.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Lynn in Cincinnati - How much of a threat is Nader's candidacy? And, is there anything being done behind the scenes to convince him to get out of the race?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: I think Nader is a real threat because the election is going to be so close.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Both John Kerry and I have talked to him personally, he has no intention of getting out of the race.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: We just have to be sure to energize the progressive voters of the country and give them a reason to support Democrats.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Mary - My question is how do we reach military personnel who are trained to blind loyalty and change their vote from Bush to Kerry? Many of us pro-choice Democrats have relatives who are serving in the military either here or overseas. Not surprisingly many of these soldiers (including my dear brother) are Republican and for Bush despite his lack of military wisdom. They have the attitude that they must be for "their team" right or wrong. How do we get them to use their brains and not their brawn when deciding who they will vote for?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: It's true that the military in the past has tended Republican but I think that will be less so this year.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Most of the Bush presidency is talk and little action.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: That's true of the way he treats soldiers and veterans. I'd be surprised if we didn't get a much bigger share of the military vote in 2004 then we did in 2000.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Let's move to live questions.

Lunch Lady: What are your feelings about the sucess of Democrats in Congress and the White House compared to last year at this time?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: I think they have started to find some backbone.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Particularly Nancy Pelosi in the House.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Go Nancy!

nordy: Nordy in Seattle: I've heard that Florida has dropped "73,000 felons" from the voting rolls. How worried are you about a stolen election?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: I'm deeply worried. Most of those "felons" are probably not felons at all. That's exactly what they did in 2000. And this year we have the spectacle of the Republican made voting machines which can't be recounted.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: But can be programmed to record votes falsely. All of you should be writing letters to the editor about the lack of reliability

Moderator/Gov. Dean: of these machines if you live in counties that use them. Please also make sure you sign our petition at

Moderator/Gov. Dean: They Secretary of State in California has banned these machines for the 2004 election we need to put pressure on other states to do the same.

Susan in Orlando: How do we make the government see how much this country really needs universal health care?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Changing presidents is our only hope.

Listener: Will there be a large Voter Drive in Florida to encourage people to vote via Absentee Ballot, so to *create* a paper trail?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: I hope so.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: That's a really smart idea.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Go read my column at

Toscha: Gov. Dean, can you tell us why you chose to support candidates who have little or no chance of winning for your Dean Dozen? Is building a longterm movement more important than winning seats right now? Which is a bigger priority for you?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: We choose a wide variety of candidates most of whom have been suggested to us by our grassrotos organizations around the country.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: We want these candidates to win but we also cheerfully support candidates who don't have much of a chance because if we don't let candidates in places like Kansas and Mississippi hear our message we'll never have a chance to win.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Interestingly enough this is the strategy that Ralph Reed and Newt Gingrich devised in order to allow the right wing to take over the country.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: We're the only organization that I know of that is concentrating on both the short term election

Moderator/Gov. Dean: and a long term strategy to take back the country.

Ann in Kansas City: Can you share with us your thoughts about how our country might achieve a more balanced budget? I'm aware it won't happen for years, and it will require painful sacrifices.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: The first thing we need to do is get rid of the Bush tax cuts.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: They produce the largest job losses since Herbert Hoover was President and created half trillion dollar deficits.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: We're rapidly replacing $20 an hour jobs with $8.50 an hour jobs with no benefits.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Getting rid of tax custs which benefitted large corporations and weahtly individuals at the expense of the middle class is the first step to restoring the healthy American economy.

MRT for Dean: Melissa: I love that you have been studying organizing success by the Right Wing. What else have you learned?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: The right wing in addition to their ugly attributes such as putting their ideology ahead of the interests of the country are extremely disciplined and are willing to think long term.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Democrats need to learn both those traits, but must never put the interests of the Democratic party ahead the interests of America.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: We're looking at the long term future and we need your help. We have a bat up at

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Check it out!

Les in Chicago: How much of the current job gains is due to military spending?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Most of that money is going to Halliburton and Bechtel in Iraq.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Not much job creation there.

JennyG: Jane in NY - Thanks so much for doing this chat Gov. Dean. And for everything you do. What do you think about, and how do you think Kerry should handle the recent unanimous UN resolution on Iraq which Bush will tout as "internationalizing" the Iraq conflict and which is what Kerry has been calling for?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Again lots of Bush talk, little action. If the President had internationalized this in the first place we wouldn't have 800 Americans soldiers dead.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Not to mention countless permanently injured. My response to the President is a little more thought and a little less conversation.

marcia-: How much has George Lakoff influenced your political philosophy?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: I think Lakoff is exactly right when he talks about energizing our core supporters and increase turn out instead of apologizing for what we believe and pretending we are something we're not.

MRT for Dean: Melissa: I love this Building the Bullpen movement. How many grassroots activists do you hope will be trained by November? We have to have goals!

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Along with other organizations such as 21st Century Democrats and America Coming Together we hope there will be another 4 to 5 thousand trained activists which i fervently hopefully will remain on the payroll to work on campaign finance reform and health insurance after the election and before the next cycle starts.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: To get involved with candidates check out the Dean Dozen at

Moderator/Gov. Dean: And tell your friends!

Moderator/Gov. Dean: We're putting out our third dozen tomorrow.

lindab: Are you alligned at all with the Wellstone project?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Yes, we work with the Wellstone Project, they're great.

hershe: How can we hold the FDA and EPA more accountable for drugs and environmental toxins that do more harm than good and that are sometimes poorly regulated?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: The only thing we can do is change Presidents in order to get the political yes men who run those agencies out of office. This administration simply does not believe in science.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: It shows a lack of respect for the facts and voters when a program called the Clear Skies Initiative allows 500% more Mercury emissions and when the FDA ignores their own scientific

Moderator/Gov. Dean: advisory groups and bans contraceptives for religious reasons.

chiTeacher: A NYT article reports high school exit exams are too easy yet too many seniors fail them anyway. What do you think the primary reason for the failures may be?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: I believe that the main reason students don't do well in school is because we don't make anything more than a minimal investment in children between the ages of zero and three.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Those are the years that children's intellectual capacity becaomes hard wired and if we want public schools in this country to suceed we need more investment in early childhood.

MRT for Dean: Melissa: How can we minimize the role of the modern-day Corporation. Not only do liberals work for companies like Halliburton, but people invest their 401Ks in the ne'er do good companies. How can we get people to use their consumer power and shift their money to invest in more socially-conscious companies?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Check out Charlie Derber's most recent two books "Corporation Nation" and

Moderator/Gov. Dean: "Regime Change Begins at Home"

Moderator/Gov. Dean: He is a political scientist at Boston College and his suggestions, particularly in "Corporation Nation" are very thoughtful.

Kathy-West Texas 2.0: I can't believe how intractable some Bush supporters are. Do you think shows like Hannity and Limbaugh are brainwashing their followers?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Recent research shows that right wing talk show hosts don't convert people they just attract their base.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Air America is the liberal antidote.

Ann in Kansas City: How can we help convince the average voter that their vote DOES make a difference?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: The alternative to thinking your vote makes a difference is to give up. We need to convince the average voter that they need to vote whether their vote makes a difference or not just to maintain a sense of hope in the country.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: And then we need to attack the voting machine scandal every day. Again write letters of the editor tomorrow if you're in a county that uses touch screen voting machines and keep doing it until election.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Check out my column last week on electionic voting machines at

freegirl: What are your thoughts on how to deal with the Kurds in Iraq given this new UN resolution?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Iraq will do better if it does not become 3 countries instead of one. If the Kurds become independent Turkey will percieve that as a major threat since there is a long history of Kurdish rebellion in Turkey.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: I favor giving the Kurds as much autonomy as possible but keeping the Kurds within Iraq.

Bucanera: Governor, what did you told the people in Vieques? Tell us something about what you saw there?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: The work is just beginning in Vieques. The bombing has stopped but there is an enormous amount of pollution and unexploded ordinance left on the island which the United States needs to clean up.

Cat: Do you believe that individuals in the White House and Pentagon should be held responsible for the abuse scandal?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Yes, if the Democrats controlled the Senate and the House there would already be major investigations going on. The Republicans always seem to be too willing

Moderator/Gov. Dean: to put the interests of their party above the interests of the American people.

bushtool: Do you think Reagan should replace another President on our currency?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: No, currency ought to be left as it is. While Reagan was a strong leader and had some foreign policy sucesses his accomplishments do not rise to the level of the founding fathers.

Sharon and Roger: sharon in Kennewick: how do you deal with unscrupulous Democratic state leaders?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Get rid of them or bypass them same as we try to deal with unscrupulous Republican leaders.

hanna: Who do you think was the greatest American President?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: My list of the top seven - Washington, Lincoln, FDR, Jefferson, Truman, TR, Lyndon Johnson.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Of all those the most interesting choice is Johnson who had an appauling record in Vietnam but nevertheless belongs on the list because of his extraordinary domestic record on civil rights, the creation of medicare and medicaid

Moderator/Gov. Dean: and the war on poverty.

Page in Albuquerque: Do you think there is a need for increases in nuclear armament?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: No, we need more special ops forces and human intelligence. There's no military reason for battlefield tactile nuclear weapons. That doesn't help fight terrorism at all.

Maura in VA: Interesting choice of Johnson as a great President. Did you have this opinion in college, or is it only after many years of reflection?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Only after many years of reflection. I disliked him intensely in college because of the Vietnam War.

MRT for Dean: Melissa: Gov. Dean--please help us rally behind Kerry. Many of us have worked hard in local campaigns (me for Richard Morrison) but I personally can't bear to wear a Kerry shirt. Others have expressed the same reluctance. What could you say to motivate us?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Think of it this way - which candidate will be better for American's environment? Bush or Kerry?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Which candidate has a better record on balancing the budget? Bush or Kerry?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Which candidate has universal health care as part of their platform? Bush or Kerry?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Which candidates has early childhood education in their platform? Bush or Kerry?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Rallying behind Kerry is a no brainer for me.

pyewacket: Howard, how can you stay fair-minded and grounded when you have such a devoted following (CRUSHIES, too) and you are surrounded by arrogant politicians?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Not all politicians are arrogant. 34 members of the House, many from the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus took a chance and endorsed us.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Tom Harkin, Bill Bradley, and Al Gore endorsed us.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Like any group of people politicians ought not to be stereotyped.

Andrea in Upstate NY: Can we still stereotype Republicans, please?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: There are even one or two good Republicans but the number continues to diminish rapidly.

Dean Nut In Sandy E: Sooner or later the oil is going to run out, and then the coal. What do we do now to get a "soft landing"?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Another strong point for Kerry, he has a real renewable energy program that works, and is very similar to the one we pushed during the campaign. We can make a enormous strides towards getting off oil dependency by investing in renewables particularly in transporation, as soon as possible.

Wiggles: Besides Florida, what Southern States do you think Democrats have the ability to win in the upcoming Presidential election?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: I put down Louisiana, Arkansas, and Georgia.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: And check out the changeforkentucy website

Moderator/Gov. Dean: they did a terrific job when the Kentucky Democratic Party was reorganized and they now have a big presence in Kentucky.

Oscar In Louisville: Governor Dean, the state of Ohio has installed touch-screen voting boxes that cannot be verified, and many citizens of Ohio have come together to prevent these machines from being used. What can be done by DFA to help the CaseOhio cause that Renee In OH is spearheading?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: We've been in touch with Renee and I've already written one column about these machines. It's really important for DFA in Ohio to get very active in the touch screen voting machine controversy.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Ohio is probably the most important state in the country in this election.

Maura in VA: We can win VIRGINIA!!!!!! The Dean campaign helped to energize Democrats in Virginai. Last week's Rasmussen poll showed Kerry within 2 points of Bush in VA!!!!

Moderator/Gov. Dean: You're right, Virginia is another one.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: From Sarah from MN - regarding her question on the Dean Dozen - go to their websites, give them small donations and work for them. And tell your friends! And nominate local people that you

Moderator/Gov. Dean: respect to be in the Dean Dozen.

Texas Roots: I'm told that there are actually more Democrats registered to vote than Republicans but that they are better at showing up to vote. What kinds of things can we do now to establish a structure to actually get those voters to the polls?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: You are absolutely right that's why I'm a Lakoff fan. Energizing the base and getting out your vote has been the Republican model of sucess for the last

Moderator/Gov. Dean: couple of election cycles just ask Roy Barnes in Georgia and Jean Carnahan in Missouri. We must

Moderator/Gov. Dean: energize our base in order to win and that's what DFA will be doing both for Kerry and for local candidates.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Last question

Sharon and Roger: stolte: Do you honestly believe that we average Americans have the POWER?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: There is no question that you have the power.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: The reason we made such an impact on the campaign so far is not because of me

Moderator/Gov. Dean: it's because of the big numbers of you and your energy. We're always stronger when we work together and stay together.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Thank you for all you have done for the country.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: We've just got to keep at it for the next five months, and then

Moderator/Gov. Dean: a few more years after that to remake both the Democratic party and remake America.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: into a place where we want to raise our children and where we respect each other again. Thanks for all you've done and keep at it and don't forget to tell your friends about DFA and the Dean Dozens.

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Good night!

Just for kicks, see all the comments the bloggers made about the chat.

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