Interview on MSNBC's "Decision '08"

April 26, 2007

David Gregory, Host: We're back. Political coverage here on MSNBC all day long in advance of tonight's Democratic debate from South Carolina. And joining us now, the chairman of the Democratic Party, the one and only Howard Dean. Chairman Dean, welcome.

Howard Dean, Chairman, DNC [grinning]: It's been a while since someone called me the 'one and only Howard Dean.' Glad to be on, David.

[They chuckle]

Gregory: We're happy to have you this hour.

Dean: Thanks.

Gregory: So you got some experience with this. As you look forward to this debate, if you've got Barack Obama on one end, Hillary Clinton on the other and you're a candidate, what do you want to ask these two? How would you challenge them, as a Democrat running for the Presidency?

Dean: Well, I don't think it's my job to challenge my own candidates, but... I think this is a good place to have this debate.

The truth is, I disagree with your previous consultants. On the Democra-- it is true that the Republicans are very, very conservative, it's the Utah of the southeast on the Republican side. On the Democratic side, first of all you have a very large African-American population, which is important, since that is a population that drives Democratic victories. And secondly, Democrats in South Carolina by and large are moderates, both black and white Democrats. This is a very good testing ground for our candidates, and I'm looking forward to this. I think this is going to be a big night, and it's going to be a big night for Democrats.

Gregory: How do you explain Barack Obama closing the gap with Hillary Clinton? What do you think is happening?

Dean: I-- you know, I haven't seen-- I have seen the poll this morning; I didn't get to see any of the internals, I'm sure those are the property of NBC/Wall Street Journal. So you can't-- I'm not in a position to make a interpretation of the polls.

This is a very competitive race. I was in the last field, so I feel it's okay for me to say, that this is the strongest field I've seen in a long, long time. We've got a great group of people running, most of whom I think the American public would be far more comfortable with than any of the Republicans, because of what the Republicans are doing. They're running away from the American people. The debate that's going on in Congress right now, about the Iraq war, the Democrats are *clearly* on the side of the American people, the Republicans are on the side that the American people voted *against* in the last election, and that's gonna come out tonight during the debate.

Gregory: Let me ask you about something that Rudy Giuliani said about the Democratic field, essentially saying, I'm not quoting him here, that if-- were a Democrat to become President, that the country would basically fall back, would suffer losses in the war on terror, that it would 'take longer to prevail'.

Dean: I think that's a big problem for Mayor Giuliani. He sounds just like Dick Cheney. That's exactly the line Dick Cheney was using. And Dick Cheney is now, in your poll, something like 20%. I mean, that is not a winning strategy. People are tired of that.

People hired us for the next two years to get us out of Iraq. We're doing everything we can, and the Cheneys and the Giulianis and the Bushes of the world are resisting like crazy. The entire Republican slate running for President is supporting the President's war policy. That is not gonna fly. These guys are running in the opposite direction from the American people, and we've got the American people on our side.

Gregory: We're gonna leave it there. I know you're off, you've got a busy schedule, thanks for spending a couple minutes with us on MSNBC.

Dean: Thanks for having me on, David.

Gregory: Chairman Howard Dean of the Democratic Party. He'll be watching tonight-- [recording ends]

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Transcribed from the video linked at The DNC website.



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