Anderson Cooper, 360 Degrees

May 19, 2004


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Anderson Cooper.


COOPER: Well, Howard Dean has much to say about the Nader factor. Not long ago, Dean and John Kerry were, of course, trading barbs on the campaign trail. That was then, this is now. Let me show you a shot, that is them playing cards.

Dean has gone from foe to friend, trying to transfer the devotion of his legions of followers to John Kerry. Howard Dean joins us now. Thanks for being with us governor.


COOPER: There seem to be two approaches to Ralph Nader right now. John Kerry met with him today. They really didn't talk anything that was confrontational. Then you also have a former spokeswoman of yours whose involved in this effort to run these ads in key states, sort of confessionals, former Nader supporters saying they got Bush elected. Can you eliminate the Nader factor?

DEAN: I don't think you can eliminate it. But this is not the year for a third party. Ralph Nader's contributed an enormous amount to this country. And for some inexplicable reason he seems determine to wreck his legacy. Another four years of George Bush is the end of Ralph Nader's 40-year legacy of environmentalism and consumerism. I don't understand why he's running and I wish he weren't.

COOPER: Do you think there's any chance he'll drop out?

DEAN: No, I don't. I've spoken with him personally. I think he's hell-bent to do this. And that's his right in a democracy.

COOPER: Does his argument make any sense to you? He says he will attract disaffected Republicans.

DEAN: His argument makes no sense whatsoever. And he's clearly not going to take more votes away from George Bush than he is from John Kerry, which is what his argument is.

Look, there are going to be one or two people that are going to be president of the United States: John Kerry or George Bush. I think there's an enormous difference between the Supreme Court nominees that John Kerry will put forward and those put forward by George Bush, between environmental policies put forward by John Kerry and those put forward by George Bush.

And unfortunately, for those who don't think John Kerry is quite pure enough, and I certainly had my disagreements with him during the campaign, if you choose to vote for Ralph Nader you're essentially electing George Bush. And we don't want to do that.

COOPER: Let's talk about the disagreements. "The New York Times" has called you and John Kerry, who we saw you guys playing cards together the political odd couple. I mean, this is a man you once called basically a Republican, or Republican-light, a George Bush wanna-be almost. How do you sell John Kerry to your die-hard supporters?

DEAN: If you look at the record, it's not too hard. John Kerry really does have a strong environmental policy. That was never in dispute at any time during the campaign. John Kerry has committed to a universal healthcare plan that's very similar to mine. So, what's not to like about that?

John Kerry actually has participated in trying to balance the budgets, by casting a vote for Bill Clinton's balanced budget program. George Bush is running half trillion dollar deficits. Why wouldn't I support John Kerry for the good of the country?

COOPER: Has John Kerry -- have you been surprised that Kerry's numbers have not raised up I mean, given a lot of negative news coming out of Iraq?

DEAN: Not at all. People don't know John Kerry yet. They have to make two decisions in this election. The first, is to reelect President Bush. And I think they're on the way to the decision not to re-elect President Bush. Then they have to decide if John Kerry is a good replacement. They're going to get to know John Kerry and I think they're going to find John Kerry has a pretty solid record and they'll be happy to have him as president.

COOPER: A lot of Republicans, though, say the Bush campaign has done a very good job of defining who John Kerry is. People used to use the word honest in some polls to describe John Kerry. In the latest poll, they weren't using the word honest, you hear the word flip-flop. Are the Republicans doing a better job of getting the message across about who Kerry is than Kerry himself?

DEAN: Well, they spent about $65 million trying to do it. There's always that stuff that goes on in the ads. But in the long run, negative ads also drive down President Bush's ratings. So I think in the long run the negative ads are not going to determine who wins the presidency. I think what people's platforms are are going to make a huge difference.

As we talked about in the top of the show: environment, job creation, balanced budgets, these are things that matter. And John Kerry's record is so much better than George Bush's I don't think there's going to be a question.

COOPER: Who do you want to see as vice president?

DEAN: That's not up to me. Believe me, that's not up to me. And I don't get into that.

COOPER: Would you have supported John McCain?

DEAN: I'll support just about anybody that can help the country and anybody who's appropriate.

COOPER: Governor Howard Dean, thanks very much.

DEAN: Thanks very much.


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