CBS' The Early Show

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

HEADLINE: Howard Dean discusses the future of his campaign


DAVE PRICE (Meteorologist): Right now over to you, Harry.

HARRY SMITH, co-host:

Thanks, Dave.

As we noted, voters in Wisconsin head to the polls today for what could be a defining moment in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination and for candidate Howard Dean.

And the governor joins us this morning. Good morning, Governor.

Former Governor HOWARD DEAN (Democratic Presidential Candidate): Good morning to you, Harry.

SMITH: I've been avoiding this question for months, but do you mind diagnosing the health of your campaign today?

Dr. DEAN: I think we're in reasonable shape. You know, John Kerry's got a lot of momentum. We've done some coming back here in Wisconsin. The issues here are jobs and health care. That's good-those are good issues for me. So I'm optimistic.

SMITH: Optimistic. OK. That doesn't sound like an actual diagnosis. Are you going to be around tomorrow?

Dr. DEAN: Yeah, I am going to be around tomorrow. I'll be in Burlington. We'll be talking about what we're going to do in the future of the campaign. We're going to keep going. We've got good organizations all the way through March 9th in-in Florida and Illinois and certainly for tuper-Super Tuesday.

SMITH: All right. Campaign chairman has left to support John Kerry. There are lots of stories about your campaign workers looking what to-where to go next. What are you telling them?

Dr. DEAN: I'm not telling them anything. I'm telling them that we're in this to bring jobs to Americans. We're in this to bring health care, as we did in my state. Everybody under 18 has health insurance. I think that's a good place to start. And I have a record of balancing budgets, which God knows we desperately need. I'm actually the only person who's ever balanced a budget in the race. So, you know, I leave the stories about who's doing what to who to the press, and I just talk about my message.

SMITH: Right. You know, one of the things that I've been reading, just in terms of-of your own feelings about this campaign, and I don't know if I'm reading behind-between the lines, but you-are you ambivalent about continuing?

Dr. DEAN: No. I think we really need to change this country, and I think we're going to change presidents. I do think the Democratic nominee is going to beat George Bush. The question is: Are we really going to change Washington? Are we going to get the special interest money out so we can have health insurance in this country again? Are-are we going to stop writing bills as the president has which benefit the pharmaceutical company and HMOs more than it does seniors in the case of the prescription bill? Or give $16 billion of our money away to the oil and gas lobby? I think we desperately need a real change in Washington. And since I'm the only person who hasn't served in Washington, I think I'd make a pretty good bet, particularly since I have an executive record and nobody else does.

SMITH: Yeah, well, we've been-heard that conversation-we've had that conversation with you for a lot of months now, and it seems not to be getting the traction it once did. Last week you were very quick to attack John Kerry when the debate came around. It seems like you put the gloves back on again. What-what's your-what's your-what was the tactic there?

Dr. DEAN: My thought about this is we're not going to do anything to tear down the Democratic nominee. And if Senator Kerry is the Democratic nominee, we need to support him. This president has been the most dangerous president for America, particularly with these half-a-trillion-dollar deficits we're running year after year after year, than any president in my lifetime. We really do need to change this country. I'm going to do whatever I can to do that. I hope I'm the nominee because I think the-I'm the best person to take on George Bush, mainly because of the substance in my record. But if I'm not the nominee, I'm not going to do anything to disrupt the passage of the nominee to the White House.

SMITH: OK. Assume for a second that John Kerry is the nominee. Who should he poke-pick as vice president?

Dr. DEAN: That's up to John Kerry, certainly not up to me.

SMITH: You don't want to wave-stand and raise your hand right now?

Dr. DEAN: No, I don't think so.

SMITH: All right. Governor, we thank you for your time this morning. Good luck today.

Dr. DEAN: Thanks very much.

SMITH: You bet.

Copyright 2004 CBS Worldwide Inc.

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