Interview on "CNN Saturday Morning"

July 29, 2006

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we'll have to wait and see how the conflict in the Middle East might impact the midterm congressional election exactly 100 days from today. It is an election highly important to Republicans and vital to Democrats.


HOWARD DEAN, DNC CHAIRMAN: The president made a big deal about bringing the Iraqi prime minister to address Congress and met with him yesterday. The Iraqi prime minister is an anti-Semite. We don't need to spend $200 and $300 and $500 billion bringing democracy to Iraq to turn it over to people who believe that Israel doesn't have a right to defend itself.


HARRIS: Not one to split hairs. Howard Dean is chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and he joins us live from Pittsburgh.

Dr. Dean, good to see you. Good morning, sir.

DEAN: Thanks for having me on.

HARRIS: OK. So you didn't like the criticism from the prime minister of Israel and the pass he gave to Hezbollah, but...

DEAN: Well, there was worse. The speaker of the parliament in Iraq said that the bombings and the beheadings were the responsibilities of "Jews and the sons of Jews."

Now, you know, we're spending an awful lot of money in Iraq. I don't think that we want the kind of government in Iraq that is anti- Semitic.

HARRIS: He doesn't -- he doesn't speak for everyone in the parliament.

DEAN: No, that is correct. He doesn't speak for everyone.


DEAN: But he is one of the highest elected officials in Iraq. I think it's extremely disturbing what is going on in the Iraqi government. And I worry about that a lot.

And we really need peace in the Middle East, and we need a commitment to fight terrorism in the Middle East. And that didn't sound so great to me.

HARRIS: Did you -- it didn't sound great, but do you know the prime minister to be an anti-Semite, or is that what you believe?

DEAN: Well, again -- again, he refused to condemn terrorism. Excuse me, he refused to condemn Hezbollah, said that Israel was the aggressor, and his speaker of the parliament is clearly anti-Semitic. And I leave it to the American people to make this decision for themselves.

I think that we need a new direction in our foreign policy. The president has gotten us bogged down in the Middle East. He didn't pay attention to the Middle East for the first two years of his term, and I think now we're seeing what happens when you don't have a comprehensive foreign policy. We need a new direction in this country, we need a new direction at home, and we need a new direction in the foreign policy of the United States.

HARRIS: OK. Last question on this area. If you had it to do again, had the statement to make again, would you still make the same statement?

DEAN: Sure. I just -- I just said that the American people can decide for themselves what their own conclusion is. But that's the evidence that I presented.

HARRIS: Right.

DEAN: The speaker made it very clear that he literally blames Jews for beheadings and bombs, that the prime minister said that Hezbollah -- or refused to condemn Hezbollah. This is $500 trillion -- $500 billion of American taxpayers' money is going into this. We just need a new direction in this country.

We need a real change. We need a sensible, thoughtful, tough and smart foreign policy, and a sensible, sensible, tough and smart domestic policy.

HARRIS: One hundred days from the midterm election. What's the affirmative case for Americans to vote for Democrats and move at least Republicans out of one of these houses of Congress?

DEAN: Well, we've got an agenda that the House, the Senate, the governors and the mayors have agreed on. We want honesty back in our government. We want American jobs that will stay in America. And we want a healthcare system that works for everybody. We want a tough, strong, national defense policy, but one that depends on being tough and smart, not just talking tough.

HARRIS: Let me personalize this a little bit. Can Democrats bring peace to the Middle East?

DEAN: Well, I wouldn't want to say we can bring peace to the Middle East. It's been going on for almost 60 years -- we've had problems in the Middle East. However, the ability of Bill Clinton to bring peace to the Middle East was demonstrated by the agreements that he was able to get between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and I think we've seen no such progress since President Bush has been in office.

HARRIS: Can Democrats stabilize Iraq?

DEAN: I believe we can stabilize Iraq by leaving Iraq over a period of time. There may not be agreement on a timetable, or whether we should have a timetable on the Democratic side, but the vast majority of Democrats believe that we should not have been in Iraq, that the president was wrong to take us to Iraq, and that the president's statement that this is going to be left to the next president is not leadership, it's not responsible.

We need to find a way to withdraw. We cannot leave immediately. We are there now, regardless of how we got there. We need to protect our troops, who have performed extraordinarily well. But I think you will see a different approach to Iraq from the Democratic Party.

HARRIS: Can Democrats balance the budget, get us cheaper gas, improve our schools?

DEAN: Yes.


DEAN: The answer to that is all yes. We have balanced the budget in the past. The Democrats are the only people that have balanced the budget in the last 40 years in this country.

You cannot trust Republicans with your money. Borrow and spend -- the largest deficit in the history of the country only a few short years after we had the largest surplus. I mean, it's pathetic.

The Democrats have a good track record on Medicare, on Social Security, on education. And I think you're going to see a markedly different economy and a markedly different approach to balancing the budget when the Democrats take over.

HARRIS: Dr. Dean, good to see you. Thanks for your time.

DEAN: Hey, thanks very much for having me on, Tony.

--- End ---

Originally from CNN Transcripts.



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