CBS' The Early Show

December 10, 2003

HEADLINE: Dr. Howard Dean discusses his endorsement by Al Gore


HARRY SMITH, co-host:

Former Governor Howard Dean solidified his front-runner status among the Democratic presidential hopefuls after receiving an endorsement from former Vice President Al Gore. Last night in New Hampshire, Dean took part in the final debate of the primary season. Governor Dean joins us this morning.

Good morning, sir.

Former Governor HOWARD DEAN (Democratic Presidential Candidate): Thanks for having me on, Harry.

SMITH: Thanks. I don't think I have to point out to you that Al Gore did not win the last election; he didn't even carry his home state. How does his endorsement help you?

Dr. DEAN: Well, it helps me in two ways. First of all, he got 500,000 more votes than the person who did end up in the White House, so I think he's a pretty well-respected figure. Secondly, he's been enormously helpful to me in advising me on some key issues. Environment is one of them, which he knows an enormous amount about, and the other is national defense and foreign policy, which is after eight years as vice president and a significant career in the Senate and the House on the Armed Services Committees, that's a very valuable addition. You know, Al's a thoughtful person; he's well-respected. And it helps put together the Democratic Party. You know, I'm running an insurgency campaign aimed at cleaning up Washington, getting rid of some of these special interest money that was so obvious when the president's energy pill hit-bill hit the floor and-and in the prescription bill which really does more for drug companies and insurance companies than anybody else. And...

SMITH: But, you know, and you say the...

Dr. DEAN: But I know I can't beat George Bush with the-without the whole party and Al...

SMITH: Right.

Dr. DEAN: ...represents a whole segment-segment of the party that we also need to have-be-beat George Bush.

SMITH: But if yours is the insurgency campaign, Al Gore is Mr. Insider. Might he eventually end up an albatross to you?

Dr. DEAN: I don't think so. Not somebody of his intellectual capabilities and his enormous knowledge. That does not-in no way could that be a detriment. That's a huge help to us. What we're trying to do is we know that we can't beat George Bush simply by running an insurgent candidacy. We know that our values are to clean up Washington but that we've got to have the whole party together in order beat a guy who can raise $200 million in special interest contributions.

SMITH: Vice President Gore said that you were the only one who was right on Iraq all along; that was among the reasons he decided to endorse you. Does the road to the White House run through Baghdad?

Dr. DEAN: It may. The president's made a pretty big mess of this. I think all of my opponents, except for Dennis Kucinich, who had an opportunity to vote on this voted in favor of it. Even General Clark suggested to the people he was advising to go ahead and vote for the resolution. It turns out, that wasn't a very good idea. It turns out that there were a whole lot of facts that the president conveniently avoided which indicated that we ought not to be going into Iraq, that there were better ways to deal with Saddam Hussein. Now we're pinned down there, spending $87 billion where we could be helping put people back to work and helping with health insurance in this country.

SMITH: And the fact remains, though, most of...

Dr. DEAN: I think that's going to be a liability for the president.

SMITH: But the fact remains, though, that most Americans supported that war, supported the idea of that war. How are you going to convince them in the general election that you should be president?

Dr. DEAN: Well, first of all, I don't think most Americans are so interested in-in believing that that was a great thing now. Secondly, one of the things that I admire greatly about Harry Truman, who is one of my heroes, is that he was willing to stand up for what he thought was right regardless of what the polls showed. When I came out against the war, 70 percent of the people disagreed with me in this country. And now that percentage is down significantly. I think if you're going to be a leader, you sometimes have to take positions that may not be popular at the time but ultimately are the right thing for the country.

SMITH: One of the things that you have said over and over again that there needs to be more international troops in Iraq. Today we learned the Pentagon has barred Russia, France and Germany from bidding on reconstruction projects there. Is that how we get them to send more troops?

Dr. DEAN: Now that is exceptionally foolish and it's an example of why I don't think this president ought to serve a second term. The president bases his foreign policy often on personal dislike for other leaders. He mistakes policy dif-disagreements for personal disagreements and then he acts accordingly. And it's not a surprise that while we used to be the most-the respected moral leader of the world, we're not. We're now the most feared country on the face of the Earth, but no longer the most respected. If I become president, I'm going to restore the honor and the respect and the dignity that this country deserves around the rest of the world by having a foreign policy that's based on cooperation and not confrontation all over the world.

SMITH: Governor Dean, we'll see you down the road. Thanks so much.

Dr. DEAN: Thank you.

SMITH: All right.

Copyright 2003 Burrelle's Information Services CBS News Transcripts

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