CNN American Morning

June 23, 2003

BYLINE: Bill Hemmer

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: He is one of nine Democrats vying to become president, and now he's been running for a bit more than a year. Today, though, Howard Dean makes that candidacy official. The former governor in Vermont is positioning himself as a Washington outsider.

Howard Dean is our guest live today from Burlington, Vermont. Governor, good morning to you there.


HEMMER: How do you plan on taking on this president, who is very popular in the poll ratings still, is in the middle of this war, this war on terror, has an election war chest right now that exceeds I think $250 million? You come from the small northeastern state of Vermont. How in the world do you plan on knocking him off based on the position from which you come?

DEAN: This president has really not been terribly truthful to the American people. On Iraq, he told us a whole lot of things about Iraq that weren't so. We knew where the chemical weapons were, that Saddam was going to use chemical weapons on us. That didn't happen. On the tax cuts, he didn't cut people's taxes. He actually raised them. He has cut services so much that middle-class people's property taxes are going up all over America. No child left behind, no funding. Special education, no funding.

So, I think the record of the president, which hasn't been really talked about very much, is going to be a big issue in this campaign. And I don't think we're safer at home, and I think we're paying more taxes and we have fewer jobs at home, and that's a lot -- most of that is due to the president's lack of stewardship of the economy...


HEMMER: You mentioned one thing at the end there about national security. You admit that you don't have extensive experience on this issue. Joe Lieberman, another one of the contenders for this nomination, says no Democrat wins the White House without a strong policy on national security. How would you keep America safer?

DEAN: I have a very strong policy on national security, much stronger than this president's. First of all, I would put the money into inspecting all of the cargo container ships that come in, 94 percent of them are uninspected right now. Secondly, I'd give the states the money they need to protect themselves. This president has told us what we have to do to do something about homeland security, but they haven't given us any money to do it, so property taxpayers and income taxpayers are picking up that tab.

Finally, we ought to be buying the Russian supply of enriched uranium. We're supposed to be doing that under cooperative threat reduction. We haven't done it because the president has given huge tax cuts to people like Ken Lay of Enron, but not much for middle- class people. And the president has spent a lot of money on Iraq. But if that stockpile of uranium gets into terrorists' hands, we're in much more in trouble than we ever would have been with Saddam Hussein in power.

HEMMER: Let's...

DEAN: So, I'm glad Saddam Hussein is gone, but we have not done a good job in this country protecting ourselves.

HEMMER: Let's change the argument a little bit, direct it away from the Republican White House and talk about Democrats in particular here. The party is saying if you were to have this nomination, you would essentially split the vote. You would not have the strength to pick up enough electoral votes to win the White House. How do you respond by saying you're essentially a home-wrecker within your own party?

DEAN: Actually, I think I'm the only one that has a shot at winning against George Bush, because I'm a rural governor. I had a record -- for example, we balance budgets. This president hasn't been able to do that. And the other folks running for president with the exception of one of them have no experience in balancing budgets. I have health care in my state for everybody under 18. Nobody else has that.

And so, the record that I have as governor makes a big difference, and I do think people are looking for folks with executive experience as people who have balanced budgets, people who have created jobs and people who will keep America strong. And I can do that.

HEMMER: Yes, what about your son this past weekend? A pretty tough weekend for the Dean household, he was charged apparently for playing some sort of role as an accomplice in stealing beer from a country club. How was it this past weekend? You're a father first.

DEAN: You know, that's right. Everybody is a father first and hopefully a politician second. And I think that, you know, 17 year olds do dumb things, and this was a dumb thing to do, and he'll have to pay a price for it.

HEMMER: I'm assuming he's apologized? Bad timing I guess for the first weekend, huh?

DEAN: Yes, it was a hard weekend for him.

HEMMER: Good luck to you. We'll talk again down the road.

DEAN: Thanks. Thanks very much.

HEMMER: Howard Dean, former governor from Vermont.

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