Online Chat hosted by the Washington Post and Concord Monitor

November 6, 2003 Monitor: Thank you for joining us online today. Yesterday you said you were sorry for any “pain” you caused by saying you wanted to “be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.” How much damage do you think that comment, and your perceived unwillingness to retract it, has inflicted on the Dean campaign?

Howard Dean: I have retracted and apologized for that statement. I still firmly believe we need a dialogue on race in this country and I think we need to appeal to white southern voters if we are going to have any success in the south. I think the way to do it is to appeal to things we have in common such as the need for jobs and education.
Wheeling, W.Va.: Governor Dean, How is your proposal for a single payer system of health insurance superior to the Canadian National Health System given that Canadian patients wait as long as several months for simple surgical procedures?

Howard Dean: I don't propose a single payer system because I do not believe it would pass the Congress. What I want is the system based on what I did in Vermont, where 99 percent of our children under 18 have health insurance and 1/3rd of our seniors have prescription benefits.
Costa Mes, Calif.: Currently one of the most, if not the most, dangerous threats to a stable world peace is the US standoff with North Korea. What could you do as president to end this stalemate and help to bring the government of Kim Jong-il into the world community?

Howard Dean: I think the President's fundamental flaw in negotiating with North Korea is in fact his refusal to negotiate. The North Koreans in principal have suggested, in return for a non-aggression pact, they would give up nuclear weapons. That is something we should explore in bilateral negotiations.
Dallas, Tex.: If elected President, what are your plans for NASA and the Space Program? Do you think it's time to retire the Shuttle and move on to bigger and better things, such as a human mission to Mars, or returning to the moon?

Howard Dean: I am a strong supporter of NASA and every government program that furthers scientific research. I don't think we should close the shuttle program but I do believe that we should aggressively begin a program to have manned flights to Mars. This of course assumes that we can change Presidents so we can have a balanced budget again.
Baltimore, Md.: You have received considerable rebukes over the past few days regarding your comments about southern voters. Putting aside your poor choice of imagery, it seems to me that you were right. I agree that the Democratic Party must make serious efforts to bring back into the fold disaffected poor, southern, white voters who have traditionally shared the economic priorities of the Democratic Party. My question is: how do you intend to do this?

Howard Dean: I believe that although I should not have used the symbol of the Confederate flag, that the thrust of our strategy is the right thrust. We have to get people to focus on what we have in common in the south and elsewhere in this country. We have to stop the Republicans from dividing us on issues like race and abortion and guns and start focusing on the need for jobs, healthcare and education. That is the way to bring southern white voters back to the Democrats.
Concord, N.H.: Dr./Gov. Dean, many of your fellow candidates criticize NAFTA and the WTO for our country's loss of manufacturing jobs. What is your plan to help stop the loss of these jobs without America losing out on the long term economic benefits that come from free trade under NAFTA and the WTO?

Howard Dean: Globalization is here to stay whether we like it or not, but the rules for globalization are not. Both NAFTA and the WTO help large multinational corporations but ignore the needs for the people who work for them—not only in America but around the rest of the world. In order to make globalization work we also have to globalize worker protection, labor rights, environmental rights and human rights. Free trade won't work under the present circumstances.
Portsmouth, N.H.: Governor Dean,

As Governor of Vermont you signed a regional pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Do you think the nation should adopt the same goals as New England?

Howard Dean: We should find a way to sign Kyoto. It is not perfect and we must include the developing nations, such as Brazil and China, and require them to reduce greenhouse gasses as well. But in the end global warming is the most important environmental problem we face. We can't follow the head-in-the-sand view of the Bush administration on global warming. We have to deal with it.
Hanover, N.H.: Governor Dean, from my friends, family, and coworkers, I keep hearing the same criticism of your campaign: “I like Gov. Dean's policies, but I don't think he can beat President Bush.” From a strategic point of view, what would you do differently from your opponents to win the general election?

Howard Dean: I think I may be the only Democrat that can beat President Bush. We have a huge and growing army of supporters and we have raised more money than any other Democratic candidate—mostly in small donations averaging $75 a piece. People all over this country need jobs, health insurance and are demoralized by the President's arrogant foreign policy. What we represent is change. What the President represents is more of the same.
Gettysburg, Pa.: Dr. Dean,

How can you justify bypassing the public financing that we have struggled to attain for the short term opportunity to try to raise more money than is allowable when you receive matching funds? Haven't you said you believe in changing the system and trying to get some control of the outrageous focus on money and politics?

Howard Dean: Our campaign is campaign finance reform. Bush is going to raise $200 million from corporate America. We
are raising money with an average donation of $75 a piece. I think there are 2 million Americans who would give this campaign $100 if only they could send George Bush back to Texas. And if our campaign supporters vote to do that we plan to give them the chance.
Vienna, Va.: Where do you stand on the partial birth abortion ban? I'm all for choice, but partial birth abortion seems to me to clearly cross the line—and I haven't seen how such a procedure, if done, would need to be done for the health of the mother.


Howard Dean: In the four years between 1996 and 2000 there were no late term abortions performed in my state. Late term abortions are very rare and should never be used except to save the life or health of the mother. I just don't think the government ought to be making personal medical decisions for Americans. No respectable physician would ever do a late term abortion except for the most serious reasons. That is why I did not support the President's bill.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada: U.S. relations with Canada have gone through some tough times under the Bush administration. How do you feel you can repair relations between the U.S. and their neighbor to the north, and for that matter the whole international community?

Howard Dean: I have a long standing relationship with Canada both because my kids have spent numerous weekends playing hockey there and because I have appeared on Canadian talk shows many times. Repairing our relationship with Canada requires the same solution that repairing our relationships with the rest of the world requires, and that is the removal of a president whose arrogance and contemptuousness for others overrides the respect that is necessary between parties to conduct international relations.
Washington, D.C.: Dr. Dean, I believe strongly in your entire platform except for your stance on gun control. Don't you think your feeling that gun control laws should vary state by state ignores the fact that guns can and do easily travel across state lines and be used in crimes in states different from where they were purchased?

Howard Dean: I come from a rural state with a very low homicide state and no gun control other than the federal laws. I support those federal laws vigorously. Hunters don't need AK-47s to shoot deer and most hunters I know don't believe that it should be easier for criminals to get their hands on guns, but I know that states like California and New Jersey want more gun control than that. I believe that they should be allowed to pass what gun controls they think they need, but that it is unreasonable to apply laws that may be necessary in California to rural states like Montana or Vermont. The cross border issue has been resolved in the one case I know of where it became a big issue. Virginia now limits the availability of gun purchases because so many Virginia guns were turning up in New York City illegally.
Oxford, U.K.: Many Democrats have accused the Bush administration and the Republican-controlled Congress of setting very high standards and penalties for public education under the No Child Left Behind Program, while at the same time not giving sufficient federal funding to schools. As president, would you support more funding under a plan similar Bush's, or a completely different plan altogether?

Howard Dean: No Child Left Behind is bad policy. Texas and Ohio have already reduced their educational standards in order to save money. This bill is hurting American education, not helping it. We need accountability in education and high standards and this bill is doing the opposite. I would scrap the majority of No Child Left Behind, fully fund special education and create a very high standards test with technical assistance to help schools meet the goals.
Atlanta, Ga.: Governor Dean:

Will you rollback Bush's restrictions on stem cell research?

Howard Dean: Yes. The president's anti-science bias should not be permitted to deprive Americans with Parkinson's, diabetes, and other treatable diseases of the help that they need.
Kennesaw, Ga.: Would you please tell us your views towards nuclear power? Should we build more nuclear power plants?

Howard Dean: We can not build any new nuclear power plants until we have a satisfactory way of disposing of the waste.
At present, significant questions have been raised about the safety of Yucca Mountain, the disposal site in Nevada. Unless those safety questions are resolved Yucca cannot be opened and new plants must not be built.
Austin, Tex.: Your web site says that you've “opposed President Bush's war in Iraq from the beginning.” Now that that war can't be undone, what responsibility do we have for Iraq? What would you do about Iraq?

Howard Dean: George Bush's father had over 100,000 foreign troops in Iraq, many of whom where from Muslim nations. We need to bring troops from those countries back to Iraq to replace our Guard and Reserve troops and one of our two divisions in Iraq. This cannot be an American occupation it must be and international reconstruction effort.
Hastings, Minn.: Governor Dean, Would you be willing to once and for all expose the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), that neo-conservative think tank (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and others) who called for the military takeover of Iraq before 9-11 and before Bush was even in office for the purpose of furthering U.S. economic interests in the Middle East?

Howard Dean: The neo-conservative movement which has captured this administration has done enormous harm in American and to our standing in the world. This is one reason we need a different president.
Melbourne, Australia: Governor Dean,

I am an American living in Australia and am a supporter of your candidacy. I have been very disturbed to read the various stories about the security concerns surrounding the makers of electronic voting machines being used increasingly in our elections. Most alarming have been the allegations surrounding Diebold Election Systems and their attacks on those who have questioned their products and their behavior. Could you please discuss your feelings on this matter, the implications you think it has on our democracy, and what you would propose be done to address it?

Thank you and good luck.

Howard Dean: The chairman of Diebold has sent a letter saying that he will do everything he can to get Bush reelected. This does not engender confidence in the American electoral system. If I become the Democratic nominee we will have teams, particularly in jurisdictions like Florida, who will be conducting poll watching activities to prevent the kind of Republican abuses that took place in the last election. We will do more work on the voting machine issue as the campaign moves along.
Washington, D.C.: How do you feel being labeled the “youth's canidate?”

Howard Dean: One quarter of all our donations come from people who are under 30 and I think it is because we respect voters opinions, including young voters, and we often act on them. Younger voters have a lot more to loose from the Bush administration than my generation does. Their college grants have been cut, tuitions have skyrocketed due to the Bush tax cuts and, because of these tax cuts, young people will be saddled with the largest debt in American history. We need a change in this country and young voters, as is often the case, are driving that change.
Nashville, Tenn.: It is clear to me that Kerry, Edwards, Gephardt, and Lieberman, because their campaigns are waning in comparison to yours, are doing everything they can to stop you. The Con Flag bruhaha, to me, was just the latest example of the depths to which they'll stoop to stop you, creating something where there really is nothing. My question is this:
Don't you think you need to be a little more aggressive in throwing such pathetic attacks from your rivals right back at in their faces by calling them out on their blatant and pathetic distortions of your statements, and labeling them for what they are?

Howard Dean: Politics is a tough business but I believe the American voters mostly want to hear the positive ideas instead of negative attacks that the other Democrats are throwing at us. We go through this every four years, and in the end the candidate with the most positive agenda usually wins. We will continue to try and stay above the fray with positive and inclusive ideas for America because I think it is the best way to win.
Norman, Okla.: I basically support you entire platform, but I would just like to know if you believe there are any circumstances in which unilateral military intervention abroad might be justified?

Was Bill Clinton right to not intervene in Rwanda; was he wrong to intervene to stop ethnic-cleansing in Serbia?

Thank you

Howard Dean: There are some circumstances which allow unilateral interventions. One is to stop genocide if no other world body had taken the responsibility to do that and, second, to defend the United States of America after an attack or to prevent an immediate attack.
Howard Dean: Thanks to all of you. And for those of you on our email list please vote in the election to decide whether we take matching funds or not.

For those who are not, it is too late to vote, but please visit

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