"The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer

November 3, 2006

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And joining us now from Toledo, Ohio, the chairman of the Democratic Party, Governor Howard Dean.

Governor, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: Four days to go. Four very long days.

DEAN: The longest four days in our lives, right?

BLITZER: The president sort of has a new line his stump speech that's been going out today.

Listen to this little clip.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's still time for the Democrats to tell the American people their plan to prevail in this war on terror. So if you happen to bump into a Democrat candidate, you might want to ask this simple question -- what's your plan?


BLITZER: All right, well, you're not a Democratic candidate. You're just the leader of the Democratic Party.

DEAN: Oh, I'll be happy to...

BLITZER: What's the Democrats' plan to deal with the terror threat?

Because he says by voting against the surveillance program, by taking steps against the Patriot Act, the Democrats are abdicating, in effect, the war on terror.

DEAN: Well, the truth is that you can't trust the Republicans to defend America. Look at their record. They had identified three countries that were a problem. North Korea just exploded a nuclear weapon. Iran is working on getting one. And we're in a civil war in Iraq. Osama bin Laden is still at large.

I don't think the president has had a plan for national security since he's been in office.

Here's our plan. One, capture or kill Osama bin Laden and put the troops in Afghanistan that are necessary to do that. Two, redeploy our troops in Iraq, bring home the National Guard and Reserve, keep a special operations force in the region to deal with terrorist attacks. Three, cooperate with other countries instead of trying to bully them, so we can get nuclear weapons one of the hands of the North Koreans. And be tougher on Iran.

So, we have a plan. The president hasn't showed us his plan. He didn't have a plan when he got into Iraq. He didn't tell the truth when he got into Iraq, and he doesn't know what to do now that he's there.

BLITZER: He says, though, and other administration officials say that if you simply pull out of Iraq right now, it will, inevitably, become another Afghanistan, a terrorist stronghold, perhaps aligned with Iran, and that's going to further endanger America.

DEAN: First of all, I don't know a Democrat that's talking about pulling out of Iraq right now. I do know a lot of Democrats who don't believe that the president has served us well by going in there.

We know that we have a problem. We know that we have to gradually disengage from Iraq. The president has no plan to do that.

Staying the course with a strategy that doesn't work is not a plan.

Secondly, the president is wrong. I don't think he ever understood Iraq when we went in and I don't think he understands Iraq now. The biggest danger to Iraq is not that it will turn into a terrorist state. The biggest danger to Iraq is that it will partition and destabilize eastern Turkey.* I haven't heard a word about that from the president.

Eastern Turkey is a very important American ally. The president had no plan, had no knowledge when he was getting into this that he could result in destabilizing one of our own allies.

BLITZER: The other fear that the Republicans are raising, especially the vice president, Dick Cheney, is that if the Democrats take the Senate, take the House, Americans are going to be paying more income tax.

Listen to what Cheney said in Idaho yesterday.


DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I noticed that now, on the verge of the election, the leader of the House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi...


CHENEY: Claims, she claims that Democratic leaders love tax cuts.


CHENEY: That only invites another look at her party's record on taxes.


BLITZER: Whose taxes are going to go up if the Democrats have their way?

DEAN: Well, if you'll pardon my expression, Nancy Pelosi is a lot more of a straight shooter than the vice president is.

The fact of the matter is we're not going to -- not only are we not going to raise taxes on middle class Americans, we're going to try to find a way to cut them.

We are, however, going to rescind all those huge tax breaks that the president and the vice president and the Republicans gave to the oil companies when they were charging us $3 a gallon. That's not money that should go to oil companies. That's money that should be used to balance the budget and to restore Pell grants so middle class kids can go to college again.

BLITZER: What's going to happen on Tuesday? What's your prediction as far as the Senate and the House of Representatives?

DEAN: I don't have a prediction, Wolf. I've been in this business a long time. You do not make predictions about this kind of stuff. My prediction is, however, that the American people want real change in this country. They want a new direction. My prediction is we'll give them one.

BLITZER: You know, there's going to be a lot of demoralized Democrats out there. They can taste victory, certainly in the House, almost in the Senate. It's going to be much more difficult in the Senate, as you well know. There's going to be a lot of demoralized, depressed Democrats out there if you don't win.

DEAN: Well, maybe so. But I would hope that that wouldn't happen, because this is a long-term struggle to take back this country so that we can be the great moral leader of the world once again.

We're going to do things a lot differently than we have in the past, should we prevail, should the voters restore Democrats to power.

The first thing we're going to do is avoid the polarization that the president has used to govern for the last six years. We're going to welcome everybody. We're going to respectfully talk to the people who don't agree with us, because they probably have some good ideas about how to run-America, as well. We're going to respect people's beliefs in their families.

We want to heal America and yes, there will be a lot of partisanship, because the Republicans have basically divided this country bitterly in the last six years.

We need -- if you want to make America work, we've got to be in it together.

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

Governor, thanks very much.

DEAN: Wolf, thanks again.

--- End ---

Original transcript from CNN Transcripts.

*... If the Kurdish region in northern Iraq becomes an independent country, that is a nucleus to which the large Kurdish region in eastern Turkey could join. For some reason incomprehensible to me, Turkey has been dead-set against autonomy for the Kurds in its country, since Turkey was a country, and has repressed them ferociously. For my money, the Kurds are a natural geographical and cultural unit and ought to have their own country... but Dean is apparently being politic here and indicating a desire to not stir up Turkey's soup.
See also:
Kurdish History
Kurds in Turkey
Jailed Kurdish leader Ocalan



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