CBS' The Early Show

September 8, 2003

HEADLINE: Howard Dean discusses his views of the Iraq situation


HANNAH STORM, co-host:

The president's Iraq policy is being heavily criticized by many of the Democrats who are running for president, including former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who joins us now.

Good morning, Governor Dean.

Former Governor HOWARD DEAN (Democrat, Vermont; Presidential Candidate): Good morning, Hannah.

STORM: You were quoted in The New York Times this morning as saying that Bush was beginning to remind you of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon during the Vietnam War. Can you explain that analogy?

Mr. DEAN: I think the president is—is leaving a deliberately false impression, as Al Gore said in his speeches earlier this fall, that somehow September 11th was, in part, due to Saddam Hussein. There's no evidence for that and there's no evidence that Saddam Hussein was making deals with al-Qaida. Now the president said Iraq is the beachhead of the war on terrorism because the president has chosen Iraq as that battlefield. I think that was a grave mistake and I think it's endangering the security of the United States.

We are not paying attention to Iraq at ho—to al-Qaida at home. We're allowing nuth—nu—North Korea to become a nuclear power, all because this president, for s—some inexplicable reason, decided to take out Saddam Hussein, which—who was not a threat to the United States, who had nothing to do with 9/11 and who was not making deals with al-Qaida. The president is now leaving the impression in his speeches without directly saying so that, in fact, Saddam Hussein was partly responsible for 9/11, that he was in league with al-Qaida. Those things are not true. They have not been documented and we're losing eight to 10 soldiers every week, with more wounded. We're now about to go over the half-trillion-dollar mark in the deficit because the president insists on his reckless economic policies at home as well as his reckless adventures abroad. I think it's a mistake. I think we need to defend this country here before going on foreign adventures.

STORM: Well, Governor Dean, I mean, it's apparent that the United States is going to be in Iraq for some time. This is a situation that you would inherit, you know, should you win the presidency. So let's accelerate the timetable and say that you were president tomorrow. What would you do to fix the situation?

Mr. DEAN: We need to bring some of our troops home and make this an international occupation, not a—an American occupation, to get our troops out of harm's way. We need 50,000 more troops as it is in Iraq, as General Shinseki advised the administration, and they chose to ignore his advice. Ag—ignoring military advice by people who know what they're talking about is always a very foolish thing and it's a bad sign...

STORM: So you're saying 50,000...

Mr. DEAN: the beginning of a battle.

STORM: ...additional troops of a multinational force, in addition?

Mr. DEAN: More than that. I think more than that because we want to replace some of the troops that are there now and begin to bring home the Guards and the Reserves and some of the on-duty soldiers. We have these six-month rotations that are coming up that usually are the standard. Now the president says we're going to have one-year rotations in Iraq. I think that's a huge problem. I also think it was a huge problem for him to try to cut their pay while they were over there a couple of weeks ago.

STORM: Governor Dean...

Mr. DEAN: This is an administration that's out of control.

STORM: All right. Let—let me ask you to clarify something.

Mr. DEAN: Go ahead.

STORM: I have about 30 seconds left. Last week you said that the United States should not take sides in the Middle East conflict. Can you explain your statement?

Mr. DEAN: Certainly. We're trying to broker a politi—a—a truce and then ultimately a peace settlement between—between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Israel is a longtime ally of the United States. But in order to be an honest broker, we have to take a very middle path. I actually think the president has done that in his words. The two-state solution is a solution that I support and I believe is the ultimate way to peace in—in the Middle East, and we're going to have to be the honest broker. The Americans are the only people who can broker that, and I wish the president had spent more time in the Middle East and less time on Iraq.

STORM: All right. Governor Dean, thanks so much for joining us today.

Mr. DEAN: Thank you, Hannah.

Copyright 2003 Burrelle's Information Services CBS News Transcripts

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