CNN's 'American Morning'

November 2, 2004

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: He was once the Democratic front-runner. Now he is standing on the sidelines like the rest of us, watching how today's events unfold.

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean joins us from Burlington, Vermont, with a little more on what it's going to take for his guy, Senator Kerry, to win and what it might mean if Senator Kerry does win.

Nice to see you, Governor.

HOWARD DEAN (D), FMR. VERMONT GOVERNOR: Thanks for having me on.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little bit about predictions, shall we? Some people say Ohio...

DEAN: I never make them, but we can try.

O'BRIEN: I know, but I always try to goad you into it anyway.

Ohio as the Florida in 2004. Some people say Florida as the Florida in 2004. Do you think that this election will, in fact, be decided by the time everyone's getting up tomorrow morning?

DEAN: That's really hard to say. I've been debating that with all the folks at Democracy for America for the last, you know, 10 or 15 minutes. I think that it's going to be close.

There are 10 states that are very, very close. And I think there are going to be recounts asked for in some of those states. And I think the election is so close that we can't expect to know for sure who the next president's going to be probably until those recounts are done, and that may be for a couple of weeks.

But I think the most important thing is for everyone to get out and vote, you know, and remember the problems we've had in this country the last four years and see if you want another four years of that.

O'BRIEN: What do you think are the implications if it is not decided? Just moments ago we heard some sound from some of the folks who say they just want it over. Predict for me, if it's not all decided, do voters lose faith in the process?

DEAN: No. I think the only thing that caused voters to lose faith in the process was the Supreme Court decision last year, not because they elected George Bush, but because they didn't count the votes.

And I would hope that any court decision would be aimed at counting the votes. I really thought that court decision, Bush versus Gore, was the most disgraceful Supreme Court decision since the Dred Scott decision, because when you don't count the votes, you take away people's confidence.

Voters ought to vote. As I have often said, I'd rather today have somebody vote Republican than not vote at all. And that's quite a statement from me because I'm actually determined not to have any more of these deficits and jobs being lost, as we've seen under this president.

But I really think it's important that people participate and I think it's incredibly important that their votes count.

O'BRIEN: Here's what Tommy Franks wrote in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. He said, "I don't know Senator Kerry's plan for victory. But I do know that his criticism of the military conduct of our global war on terrorism disrespects our troops. I also know he cannot lead troops to victory in a war when he's made it perfectly clear that he does not support the cause."

As a person who ran on a big anti-war platform, what do you make of Tommy Franks' rationale?

DEAN: I don't know what happened to Tommy Franks. He sounds a little like Zell Miller.

Most of the generals that have come out and endorsed this race have endorsed John Kerry because they don't think the president pays much attention to the Pentagon, and I think that's a mistake if you've never had any serious military experience before.

So I come to the conclusion that John Kerry will keep us safer from terrorism. And certainly General Franks is a well respected military leader. He's entitled to his opinion, but I disagree with him.

O'BRIEN: Orlando Sentinel says you could be named to the Kerry Cabinet if indeed Senator Kerry becomes President Kerry, and specifically in the health and human services area. Is this something that you've thought about?

DEAN: No. I'm not going to do any thinking about it.

My experience is those who name their Cabinet before they're elected don't get to name it afterwards. So I think we'll stay away from that one. I hope very much that John Kerry is in the position to choose a Cabinet. I think that would be good for America.

O'BRIEN: Is it weird to be on the sidelines?

DEAN: Well, I'm not exactly on the sidelines. I spent last week in Ohio, the week before in Pennsylvania, and yesterday in New Hampshire.

O'BRIEN: All right, you're doing way more campaigning than the rest of us clearly. But to not be in it as a candidate?

DEAN: I feel like I am in it, certainly not as a candidate.

But I think John Kerry's done a great job. I think he's run a great campaign. He's given people a reason to change presidents. George Bush, of course, has given us a lot of reasons to change presidents.

But what John Kerry has done in the last few weeks is convinced us that he can be the president of the United States, and I think that's great. And I'm fully behind him and I'm very happy to be supporting him as hard as I can.

O'BRIEN: Howard Dean joining us this morning. Thanks for being with us.

DEAN: Thanks very much.

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