CNN's The Situation Room

December 19, 2007

WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Let's get a little reaction now to this interview with Rudy Giuliani from a man who knows a thing or two about presidential campaigns and he knows a lot about his fellow democrats, as well. Joining us from Washington, the Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. Governor, thanks very much for coming in. How, how much do you fear Rudy Giuliani, if, in fact, he became the Republican presidential nominee, precisely because of the points he just made that he does appeal to potential Democratic voters?

HOWARD DEAN, DNC CHAIR: I think the biggest problem that any Republican has is that they're following one of the most unpopular presidents in history and they're all, as they campaign, swearing loyalty to him. They're all in favor of staying in Iraq. The Democrats believe we shouldn't be there. They're all in favor of pardoning Scooter Libby; we were proud that we passed an ethics bill that essentially required Trent Lott and Denny Hastert to retire before New Year's if they wanted to get on the K Street Republican gravy train.

They all thought it was great when the president vetoed health care for kids. Our candidates all believe that we ought to have healthcare for kids.

So, there are some pretty stark differences. I welcome this race. I am looking forward to giving--

BLITZER: But Giuliani suggests, but Giuliani suggests he can be competitive let's say in New York State. He was twice elected in a heavily Democratic city like New York. He says he could be competitive in California where a similar Republican, Arnold Schwarzenegger gets elected twice in a heavily Democratic state. Does he have a point there that he would be competitive in states where some of the other Republican candidates would not necessarily be competitive?

DEAN: He's making the same argument Mitt Romney is making. Those were the old Giuliani and Mitt Romney. That's when they got elected in states that were pretty Democratic. Now, they're all talking a different game. The question is, do you want a president that would shift their views and say anything to get elected? I think the answer to that is you probably don't want a president who will do that.

BLITZER: How frustrated are you that the Democrats have now been the majority in the House and the Senate, but even as we speak, only within the past few moments the congress has passed funding for the war with no strings attached whatsoever. That's upsetting a lot of the Democratic Party base, as you well know.

DEAN: Yeah, I'm frustrated as all the other Democrats are, but I'm also a realist and the truth is we tried to end the war in Vietnam when Nixon was president. Nixon's numbers were about as bad as Bush's were and he, like Bush, has stubbornly refused to do the bidding of the American people.

The solution to getting out of Iraq is to elect a Democratic president. Every single one of our candidates for president thinks we shouldn't be in Iraq. Every single one of their presidents (sic), except Ron Paul thinks we should be in Iraq. And, so, it's pretty clear if you want to get out of Iraq, you have to have a Democratic president because these Republican candidates aren't going to go anywhere. They are going to stay in Iraq for as long as it takes to screw up America, spending a trillion dollars over there where we could be spending that at home. I think you'll get a fresh start with a Democratic president.

BLITZER: But, Congress has not been able to do anything to really affect this war, has it?

DEAN: The rules of the Senate are you need 60 votes and the Republicans under Mitch McConnell have decided they don't want to do anything.

I think it's a disgusting display it be honest with you. The Republicans have put their own politics ahead of the politics of the country. So we can't get anything done in terms of the war. We passed a watered down energy bill that continues to allow the oil companies to rip off the American taxpayers. This is the Republican doing.

I'll tell you something. The pollsters, excuse me, the pollsters are showing that people are frustrated that the Democrats can't get us out of Iraq. But by about a 20-point margin they know that this is the Republicans being obstructionist and they would prefer a Democratic Congress and to elect more Democrats to Congress and I think that's the solution. More Democrats in Congress and a Democratic president so we can finally have a party in charge that puts the interests of America ahead of the interest of our party.

BLITZER: The Republican minority in the House and the Senate, they keep going after the Democrats as the 'do nothing'--

DEAN: --Sure. That's their plan.

BLITZER: --The do nothing majority in the Congress. They passed an increase in the minimum wage. They passed this energy bill today and an ethics bill, but what else have they done over the past year?

DEAN: Well, we've increased veterans' benefits, which the Republicans refuse to do. We increased to the tune of $20 billion help for middle class college students after the Republicans cut it way back. We've passed an energy bill, which nothing of the sort happened except for giving the president's friends in the oil business big tax cuts. And, so, I think we have accomplished things. The thing we haven't accomplished, which we'd like to accomplish is get us out of Iraq in a thoughtful, reasonable, timely way.

And the American people have a stark choice. If you like us in Iraq, you should vote for a republican. If you think it's time to leave, you need to vote for a Democratic president.

Here's a president--

BLITZER: --I see a campaign slogan in the works. Go ahead.

DEAN: Wolf, here's the deal. The Republicans decided that they would cut health care from kids under 18 in this country and then spend 10 times as much money on one year in the war in Iraq. These guys have the wrong priorities for America and the Democrats have the right priorities. Most Americans, by a large amount, believe that we ought to have health care for everybody under 18 and we could easily pay for that 10 times over if we weren't in Iraq. That is the difference. If you want to pay for a war in Iraq instead of health care for your kids, then you should vote Republican, but we think the Democrats will stand for real change and we think we have a better alternative.

BLITZER: Governor Dean, thanks very much for coming in.

DEAN: Wolf, thanks for having me on.

--- End ---

Transcript originally posted on CNN Transcripts.



Back to Dean Speeches

Or else I'm just a Luddite