CNN's 'American Morning'

July 22, 2004

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: For Senator John Kerry, all roads lead to Boston now as he prepares to accept his party's nomination for president. The Democratic National Convention begins Monday.

Howard Dean? Well, he will be there, too.

The former candidate is scheduled to speak in prime time on Tuesday. And Howard Dean is with us now from Burlington, Vermont. Hello to you. Thanks for being with us, once again.


COLLINS: Let me ask you, you know, we are four days away, as we have just said, from the Democratic National Convention. What is your party's message?

DEAN: Our message is to have a stronger America: an America where we believe the president when he sends our troops abroad; an America where we have more jobs, not fewer jobs; an America where we can join all the other industrial nations in the world and have some kind of health insurance guaranteed for all our citizens.

Every other country in the world has that -- in the industrial world. There's no reason we can't.

It's a totally different kind of America than the America of George Bush. And I think this is an America that most Americans would be happy to have it back again.

COLLINS: But one step back -- do Americans know that that is the message of this party?

DEAN: I think so. I think, you know, John's job -- John Kerry's job and John Edwards' job -- is to get that message out over the last -- over the next three-and-a-half months.

But the key, really, is that folks have already decided in this country that they ought to take a second look at whether George Bush should be re-elected or not. Now we have an opportunity, and now we have to take advantage of that opportunity to change the country.

COLLINS: All right. Well, I want to remind you about something that you said to the "Washington Post" just the other day. You actually said -- you know, many, many years ago Barry Goldwater had made a comment, saying that I'd rather be right than president.

But you say, no way. He doesn't know what he's talking about. I'd still rather be president. Your comment on that?

DEAN: Well, it's true. Obviously I'm disappointed I'm not the nominee, but we're going to change the country. And the way to change the country is to make sure that John Kerry wins, and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that happens.

COLLINS: But how is it going to feel for you next week when you're inside the FleetCenter and you are not up on that stage as the nominee for the party?

DEAN: I'm not a very reflective person. We have a job to do. You know this -- George Bush has hurt this country terribly. We have over 900 people dead in -- of our people dead in Iraq, never mind how many Iraqis are dead, for a reason that we still don't know.

According to the president, he keeps changing the reasons as more evidence comes to light, that he wasn't being truthful about why we went there in the first place.

And we have lost a million jobs. And many of the ones that are being replaced are being replaced with jobs that pay a lot less than the ones that were lost.

We have a half-trillion-dollar deficit every single year. We can't go on like that. We need balanced budgets in this country. We need a restrained spending. We need, in my view, a president who's going to lead us and not have his agenda that's out of sync with the agenda for the American people.

This president is the president for two percent of the American people: those at the very top. I'd like a president who's going to respond to the other 98 percent of us.

COLLINS: Let me turn the corner quickly here. Does it concern you at all about the latest story that's come out about Samuel Berger and these classified documents? Do you think there's any chance that this issue is going to cloud the convention?

DEAN: I doubt it very much.

You know, we don't know what the facts were about the missing documents. Sandy Berger seems to have a plausible explanation. I think the timing is, of course, always suspect.

How did this investigating go one for two months, and then it gets leaked the week of the Democratic National Convention?

So, I think that it's just more Washington stuff, as usual.

COLLINS: We appreciate your time this morning. Howard Dean, thanks so much.

DEAN: Thank you.

COLLINS: Have a good time next week.

DEAN: Thank you.

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