"The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer

February 1, 2007

WOLF BLITZER, HOST: And joining us now, the chairman of the Democratic Party, Governor Howard Dean.

Governor, thanks very much for coming in.

DEAN: My pleasure. Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: It looks like you have got some division -- this is not a surprise -- among Democrats, but let's go through some of them and as chairman, see what you have to say.

First of all, Joe Biden. He had some really blunt comments about fellow Democrats, presidential candidates. First of all, going back, he said of Al Gore and John Kerry, he said, "Democrats nominated the perfect blow-dried candidates in 2000 and 2004... and they couldn't connect."

Now, on John Edwards, he's saying, "I don't think John Edwards knows what the heck he's talking about."

Also some disparaging remarks about Senator Clinton. And, as you know, listen to what he said about Barack Obama.


SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy... I mean, that's a storybook, man."


BLITZER: What do you make of this?

DEAN: Well, you know, as you well know, Wolf, there are going be a thousand comments of this kind that are controversial and so forth as we go forward. I'm not going to make a practice of commenting on them.

In this particular case, the principals have talked about it, they have resolved their differences. And so I'm not going to get into it at all.

I'm going to be the referee. We're going to have a fair process. The only time I'm going to get into it is if I think things are going on that are really unfair and below the belt. But the media is going to sort this one, and the principals have already talked, Senator Obama and Senator Biden. So there's no need -- no need for me to get involved.

BLITZER: Well, at what point though do you make a phone call or do you call Senator Biden, for example, and say, "Joe, maybe you should cut back a little bit on the rhetoric"?

DEAN: You know, I think there's been a lot of people probably giving him that advice publicly. And he certainly doesn't need to hear it from me publicly or privately.

Again, my job is to be the referee. I have to be very careful in this campaign. I want the DNC to be the place where every single candidate can feel they can come to, if they feel something else needs to be done differently and they're going to get a fair hearing.

And so you won't hear me commenting about who's the front-runner and who isn't and who said what last week and who said what yesterday and all that kind of stuff. I'm just not going to do that kind of public analysis.

BLITZER: Because your job is to get Democrats elected, Democrats locally, statewide and in the White House.

DEAN: That's right.

BLITZER: And if you have Democrats fighting each other, that's going to make your job a lot more difficult.

DEAN: Well, there's difference between controversial comments that get resolved in a couple of days and really serious stuff. And I'm going the save my comments and interventions for the really serious stuff that isn't going to get resolved between the principals. If the principals can resolve this stuff on their own, they certainly don't need me to help, and I'm going to be -- look, we had great year in 2006.

We've got all the momentum on our side. This presidential Iraq policy is about to be disavowed by the majority of the Senate, including Republicans.

This presidential race is something that we ought to win. We've kept our promises. I think Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid have done a great job. You know, when was the last time you can remember that people made six promises before they got elected and they kept them on time?

I think it's a great record. And I think we ought to focus -- I want to focus on the positive things the Democrats are doing.

BLITZER: What about the split that the Democrats in the Senate are having now in whether or not they should go along with a modified, a watered-down, symbolic resolution complaining about the extra troops going to the Iraq? You've got Levin and Biden on one side, you've got Russ Feingold on another side saying use the power of the purse.

This another problem you potentially have to get involved in.

DEAN: No, this is not a problem. The Democrats, in fact, are not split. And the resolution is not watered down. They changed a few words.

I think this is a very smart move on the part of Harry Reid. If we can get significant numbers of Republicans to repudiate the Republican president's policy, which is about to happen, then I think that's very, very positive.

Look, we're doing what Americans elected us to do. The American people do not believe we belong in Iraq. The president is going in exactly the opposite direction that the American people asked him to go to. It's not a surprise to me that any United States senator, Republican or Democrat, might want to listen to their constituents before they listen to a president who's taking us in the wrong direction, despite what the American people voted for.

So, I think you're going to see a unified vote. I think you're going to see unified Democrats.

The question will be, which I'm not going to go into and speculate about, but the question will be, what happens when the House and the Senate disavow the president's wrong-headed actions in Iraq, ask him not to do it, and he does it anyway? Then I think you're going to see more discussions about what the alternatives are in addition to this.

But this is a first step, it's the right step. Again, I think both Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are doing exactly the right thing on the right timetable, and I think you're going to see overwhelming Democratic support for these resolutions condemning the president's actions in Iraq to escalate the war.

BLITZER: One final quick question. Al Gore, he supported you back in 2004 when you were running for president. Now he's expected to win an Oscar. He's being nominated for a Nobel prize. Should he get back into this presidential race?

DEAN: Again, I'm not going to get into that, but I certainly think he deserves the Oscar and Nobel Prize.

Look, this guy, who is a good friend, a wonderful friend, a courageous friend, has done more to affect public policy than anybody I can think of in the last few years. Al Gore and the people who helped him make that movie -- and it wasn't just Al, but it was others -- have -- have totally changed the way Americans look at global warming.

The president of the United States has tried to pretend that global warming hasn't existed for six years. He has bullied scientists who are concerned about this, as has his administration. And because of the efforts led by Al Gore, we are really doing -- dealing with the issue that may be the most important issue to face this planet as long as humankind has existed on it.

So I think he deserves whatever awards he gets for doing that.

BLITZER: Governor Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic Party.

Thanks very much.

DEAN: Thanks for having me on.

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Original transcript from CNN Transcripts.



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