Summer Meeting of State Democratic Party chairs and DNC officials

June 20, 2003

[I tried to write the transcript in a way that captures the cadences, volume level, etc., of Dean's speaking style. That's why there are commas in weird places. ed.]


This is gonna be a lot of fun, trying to sandwich a 25-minute stump speech into five minutes. [Faint laughter.] So instead, what I'm gonna do is – instead of beating up on John Ashcroft and George Bush, which would be easy things to do, which gets us lots of applause – everybody-in-the-country- already-knows – everybody in the country already knows we've lost 2.7 million jobs over this president. Everybody already knows that he's bankrupted the United States of America. Everybody already knows, that he has sent our, troops to war, without explaining to the American people what the real facts are behind doing that.

[Big applause and cheering]

But the biggest loss that we've had in the last two-and-a-half years in this country is not the 2.7 million private sector that this president's lost with his foolish economic policies, and it's not even the respect in the world, which has transferred us from being the highest moral leader of the free world to being the most feared country on the face of the earth, but no longer the most respected.

What this president has lost for this country is what we're gonna get back, and that's our sense of community. Our sense that – [applause] – our sense is – our sense that we all had and we were so proud of during the Civil Rights Movement, Martha – Martin Luther King, and John and Robert Kennedy – where it wasn't enough for me as a citizen, or you as citizens, to say that we wanted health insurance for my kids and my community, or my state, as we have in Vermont. That was our responsibility and your responsibility as citizens of America to make sure that every child had health insurance. Where it wasn't enough – [applause] – enough for us in Minnesota, or in Vermont, or in California to talk about good public schools for our children, that we insisted that every child had a decent public education, and that means the kids in Alabama-and-Texas-and-Mississippi-and-in-New-Hampshire- as-well! [Applause continues.] That's our birthright in this country!

The most – [applause dies down] – the most despicable thing this president has done is not mislead the American people, sending our troops to Iraq, it was to use the word "quota" on the evening news five or six times, talking about the University of Michigan affirmative action, because – [applause, cheering] – because the word "quota" first of all, does not apply to the University of Michigan. It never has had a quota system, it-doesn't-have-a-quota-system-now! The word "quota" is a racially loaded word, [applause] designed to appeal to the fears of people who think they're gonna lose their jobs [big applause, cheering] and places in university to people of color! That was the wrong thing to do, Mr. President!

This president – [applause dies down] – this president ran as a uniter, and not as a divider, and that was a lie! This president – [applause] – this president has divided us by race, by using words like "quota". He's divided us by gender, by attacking a woman's right to make up her own mind about health insurance. [Applause. Cheering.] He's attacked – he's attacked – he's divided us by women by even attacking Title IX, which gave my daughter the same right to participate in sports [applause] as my son did.

He has divided us by-sexual-orientation-by-putting-his-arm-around-a-despicable-Senator-from- the-United-States – from the United States Senate from Pennsylvania, who equated gay people with child molesters. That was wrong, Mr. President! [Big applause, cheering.]

And he has divided us by income, by giving all his tax cuts to his friends like Ken Lay, when middle-class property taxes are going up to pay for all those tax cuts, and the people that he's sent to Iraq are gonna come back here and owe $3,000 more, as part of the national debt, than they did when they left. Mr. President, you say you're pro-military. What about cutting the military benefits and veterans benefits, that you cut, in order to give those taxpayers – [big applause, cheering] – those tax cuts?

I want our country back. I want our country back and we're gonna take our country back. Enough to economics that make no sense and only benefit, his campaign-contributors-giving-him-200-million, dollars. Enough, of divisive, racial, politics, divisive, gay-bashing, divisive economic politics. The only way that we're gonna win the presidency of the United States is to stop trying to be like the president and stand up against him. [Huge cheering and applause] Thank you.

Let me conclude by saying this: The biggest lie, that people like me tell people like you at election time [Dean hits five minutes at this point] is, "If you vote for me, I'm gonna solve all your problems." Truth is, that you have the power to change this country, that it's in your hands, to get a president, who's going give us jobs-again-instead-of-tax-cuts-to-people-who-don't-need-‘em. That it's in your hands to make sure that we join with every-other-industrialized-county-in-the-world-and-have- health-insurance-for-all-Americans. And it's in your hands that we give the 50 percent of Americans and 80 percent of young people a reason to vote again. We need them in our party, [applause, cheering] and we're gonna bring 'em in our party. [Applause continues.]

When I went – I went to Austin, Texas last week. East Austin, Latino neighborhood, 3,200 people came out to see – to hear what I had to say. Three weeks ago I was in Seattle, 1,200 people came out, I stopped in the middle of the speech, I said, "How many of you have not been involved in politics in the last ten or fifteen years?" Six, hundred, people, raised their hand. That is how we're gonna beat George Bush! Instead of moving to the right, [applause] we're gonna go after all those people who've given up on the system, who've given up on our society, and we're gonna bring them back in, and we're gonna beat, George, Bush. We're gonna beat him bad. [Applause. Cheering.]

Abraham Lincoln – Abraham Lincoln said that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from this earth. This country has forgotten ordinary people in America, and you have the power to bring this party back to power again! You have the power take our country back! And we have the power to get together and take the White House back in 2004, and that's exactly what we're gonna do! Thank you very, very much!

[Applause. Cheering.]

Thank you very much! Thank you very much! Thank you. Now let's go get 'em! 'Cause you have that power! You have that power, so let's go get 'em! Thank you.

Moderator: Our – our first questioner is Tina Abbott, the vice-chair from Michigan. Tina?

Abbott: Good morning, Governor. George Bush has only one approach to the economy. He has a fixation on irresponsible fiscal policies, and giveaways for the superwealthy, causing skyrocketing budget deficits. What is your economic message to move the nation forward?

Dean: First, we've got to give the American people a choice. Do you want the president's tax cut, or do you want health insurance that can never be taken away? Do you want the president's tax cuts, or shall we fully fund special education so we can lower property taxes, and lower class size, and pay teachers what they deserve? [Applause.] Do you want the president's tax cut, or shall we start to balance the budget, like we do in Vermont, so we can have jobs again in this country? If you ask that question – answer that question, most people are gonna answer it, they'd rather have the jobs and the education and the health care, because they didn't get the president's tax cut. [Applause. Cheering.] I had a guy in New Hampshire come up to me one time and say, "Well, Governor, you do make some sense. [Laughter.] I remember that check I got from the president for $600. But my 401k went down $60,000. I was better off before the president's tax cut, and I was better off paying the taxes I paid when Bill Clinton was president, ‘cause I'd sure like that Bill Clinton economy to come back again instead of the George Bush economy!" [Applause. Cheering.]

Moderator: Our next questioner is Rickey Cole, chairman of Mississippi.

Cole: Governor, thank you for coming. Please define the differences between yourself and George Bush, and how those differences [laughter] will propel us Democrats to victory in 2004, and do it in two minutes. [Big laughter.]

Dean: Well, how about we start with the similarities? We're both short. [Laughter.] [Long pause.] I don't know where to start. First of all, a Dean environmental policy means something more than just "Let's drill in the national parks"; that "Clear Skies" is not gonna mean "put more pollution in the air," as it does under this president; that "Healthy Forests" is not gonna mean "Let's cut old growth forests"; that "No Child Left Behind" means we really do care about children, and we'll give Marian Wright Edelman back her phrase, because this president doesn't own it. [Applause.]

The way we're gonna beat this president – the way we're gonna beat this president is we're gonna go after him on homeland security. Ninety-eight percent of the containers coming into this country are uninspected, there is a big, significant amount of enriched uranium that we're supposed to be buying from the Russians under Cooperative Threat Reduction that he's not appropriating money for. Why? Because it's all going to Ken Lay and his tax cuts, and it's also going to, Iraq.

The president, is not giving any of the states or municipalities any of the money he promised them, so there is not a homeland security package, really, except changing the lights every once in a while from yellow to orange to yellow to orange [laughter] without telling us why. So, [applause] the way to beat this president is to go after his weak point, and this president's weak point is security. His weak point is security. Because, every day in Iraq, we're losing eight soldiers, and he never does explain to us why it is we're losing them over there. [Applause.] And we all know – [applause, cheering].

And let me tell you something else, here from Mississippi, we're gonna go down South, and we're gonna say this to Southern voters, especially Southern white voters: "You've been voting Republican for a long time. What do you have to show for it? What do you have to show for it?" [Applause.] In South Carolina, there's 103,000 kids with no health insurance, most of those kids are white. Are you satisfied with your public schools? Is your job going to Indonesia? [Dean passes two minutes.] Have you had a raise in the last five years? Because if the answers, are answers that you don't like, maybe you ought to come back to the Democratic Party, because you're never going to get better under the Republicans. We can do those things [applause] and we gotta appeal to people's economic interests, and we can do that.

Moderator: We have a second question from – boy, I'm sorry, Bob Ream. Please. Bob is the chair of Montana.

Ream: Governor Dean, President Bush has spent billions abroad for defense, but has not committed funds to make us safe here. What is your proposal to keep Americans safe here at home?

Dean: We need to fully fund homeland security, and we need to channel that money directly to the states and the cities, which need, the help. This president talks a big game. He talks about he's a uniter, not a divider. That's not true. He talks he's gonna do things for the environment. That's not true. He talks he's gonna leave no children behind, last week, two weeks ago, when they passed the big tax cut, who got left behind? Children of working people, including 200,000 dependents of military personnel, who this president says he's gonna help. This president, as they say in Texas, is all hat and no cattle, and that's what we've gotta do, [laughter] and we gotta fix that. [Applause.]

Moderator: Our next questioner is Cynthia Lemere, vice-chair, Nebraska.

Lemere: Good morning, Governor Dean. Bush's No Child Left Behind policy is full of false questions. How would you change or alter federal education policy to make sure that our children get the education policy they deserve?

Dean: Well, I don't mean to be terribly partisan about this, but first of all, we've got to start teaching the Democrats not to be standing up for stuff like that. [Big cheering, applause.] Let me tell you what – anybody here on a school board? Anybody here on a school board? All right, if you're on a school board, you call it No School Board Left Standing. [Laughter.] Anybody here on a – as a teacher? All right, you know what the teachers call it? No Behind Left. [Laughter. Applause.]

Now, here's what – you know what's in this bill? In this bill, it requires every school board to certify that their school offers – allows, quote-unquote, "constitutionally protected school prayer." What are we doing supporting stuff like this? We have got to stop thinking that we're going to be elected president by voting for half of the president's stuff. Eighty percent of leadership is doing what the voters want. They pay our salary, they hire us. The other 20 percent is standing up for what we believe is right and bringing the voters to us, [applause] and that's what we need to do.

No Child Left Behind – No Child Left Behind has a couple good things in it. One is that it does – it lets – it requires school boards to make sure that kids from minority groups get the same opportunities in achievements as other kids, so you can't just simply get your scores up by helping the white kids and leaving the minority kids alone. That's a good thing.

But it's a huge unfunded mandate. It's raising property taxes all over the, country. And what the president did was use his approach to the Texas school system and tell Iowa and Vermont and Minnesota and the Dakotas and Ohio that they had to do it. And you know what he's got to show for it so far? The state of Ohio has already voted to dumb down its standards to get 20 percent of the schools off their fail list. You know who else voted to do that? The state of Texas, voted to dumb down their standards so that they wouldn't have as many failing schools on their list.

This bill is making education worse, not better. We need accountability in the schools, we need tests. There's nothing wrong with a national test. Our test in Vermont has the standards so high that not school – one school meets them, and I did that on purpose, so that every school, including the wealthier suburban schools, would also know that they have to work and they have to improve.

So, we can't – we want a strong education policy and we want accountability, but we do not need to tell each local school board in each state how to run their school system. That is not the business of the right wing of the Republican Party. [Applause.]

Moderator: We have a second question from Tina Abbott.

Abbott: [Inaudible] has drastically cut funding under the Violence Against Women Act and Victims of Crime Act. The result is that women and children will go without help or shelter, and there is a real possibility of lives being lost. What would you do to address this issue?

Dean: What – you know what I'd do? This is gonna – let me explain this for a minute. I'd balance the budget. Let me explain what that has to do with your question. In our state, unlike this president, we balance budgets. When all that money was coming in in the ‘90s, we didn't give huge tax cuts. We did give some. We put a lot of money a day – away in a Rainy Day fund, and we paid off a quarter of the state's debt from 1996 to 2003. We never let the legislature increase spending by more than five percent in any particular year.

The reason that's important is because you all come from a lot of states around the country, and you know what's happening in most of your states. Well, in our state now, we're not cutting higher education, we're not cutting K-12, we're not cutting kids off Medicaid, and we're not cutting programs for the victims of domestic violence and their kids. If you want social justice, you really do need to have a balanced budget.

Now, I actually do believe that this president is deliberately unbalancing the budget so he can undo programs like Medicare and Social Security. [Applause. Cheering.]

Moderator: Rickey Cole, second question.

Cole: Governor, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, or small businesses, or farms, since Bush took office. What is your plan to put people back to work, promote economic growth, and build a strong economy?

Dean: First of all, we've gotta get rid of the tax cuts. The tax – now, that's gonna be hard to do. [Applause.] When you – we're gonna have to go out and explain to the American people why the tax cuts are bad. I think most of them are gonna understand that they have given up, things like health insurance and better education, that they are paying higher property taxes because of the president's tax cuts, and that they never got the, president's tax cuts. But that's gonna require, some, education on our part, of the electorate.

If you get rid of the tax cuts, you do what Bill Clinton did. Let's look at the history. Ronald Reagan came into office, cut taxes, deficits as far as the eye can see, we lost 1.8 million jobs. Bill Clinton came into office, balanced the budget without a single Republican vote because no Republican president has balanced the budget for 34 years in this country. If you want to trust your hard-earned tax dollars to the federal government, you had better elect a Democrat, because the Republicans cannot manage money! [Applause. Cheering.]

And – now, Bill Clinton balanced the budget, we added 6.5 million jobs. Along comes George W. Bush, deficits as far as the eye can see, $400 billion deficits, the largest one in the history of the country, and we lose 2.7 million private sector jobs. So balanced budgets really do make a difference.

Having said that, here's what I'd do. First, stimulate small business. The universal health care plan that I have has $9 billion in it to directly help small businesses to buy health insurance. Small businesses create a lot more jobs than big corporations, and we've got to change the way we do economic development in this country to help small businesspeople. They don't pay as well, it's harder to work with them, they have a higher failure rate, but they do not move their jobs offshore, and that is a critical thing. [Applause.]

Secondly – secondly, we have got to have labor and environmental standards attached to our trade agreements. We simply cannot continue to have the hemorrhaging of industrial jobs from the Midwest, because it's an unfair playing field, and that has to be changed as well.

Thirdly, we need a capital accumulation mechanism for small business, which is complicated, and I'll talk to you about it after, if you'd like.

But the most important thing we could do, if we can't turn this economy around, is invest in America. We need – I'd like to take 10 percent of all the country's worst schools and say, "In the next three-year period, if your local community wants to rebuild this school, the federal government will pay for 30 percent of it." [Applause.] I'd like to do the same thing – we – our last infrastructure investment in this country was the finishing of the building of the interstate. The last major national infrastructure investment. We need better bridges, better roads, rail, we need airports.

We need renewable energy. We ought to be building transmission lines – [big applause, cheering] – we ought to be building transmission lines from the Midwest to capture wind energy. Now, I can see the right-wingers already, "Oh my God, this birkenstock governor from Vermont talking about wind energy!" [Laughter.] The Dutch get 16 percent of all their electricity from wind. We are behind the curve on renewable energy, and we can do better, but we can't do better unless we create the infrastructure to do it.

And finally, we need broadband in every rural part of this country. [Applause.] Those agriculture jobs and manufacturing jobs aren't going to come back. They need the new economy. In my state, there's a guy who runs a billion dollar mutual fund from a small town with less than 1,500 people. I've seen the same thing in Iowa, a state I've happened to spent some time in, just by coincidence, [laughter] and – and we need that – that information technology to be available in the most rural parts of this country, and the government ought to invest in that. [Applause.]

Moderator: Second question, Bob Ream.

Ream: [Inaudible] lot of wind in Montana. [Laughter.] I submitted this next question because it's very important to me as chair of the party in Montana and in many other states. But in 2004, there are many so-called "non-targeted" states that have very important races for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House, and the governor. What will you do to increase outreach to those states, and thereby help elect those Senators, Congressmen, so that we can get majorities?

Dean: Well, Jim Folsom is a great friend of mine from Alabama – and I were talking about this, and I said, "Jim, if I get the nomination, I'll come down there if you want, and I'll stay out if you want." [Uneasy laughter.]

But I think the Democrats make a big mistake by not going to places like Texas and Alabama, and Montana and Mississippi. [Applause.] First of all – first of all, I believe I can win in Montana because my position on guns is more conservative than most Democrats. I basically believe, keep the federal gun control – we don't have any gun control in Vermont, and I know the cities want it and need it, so my position basically is, keep the, background checks and – and the assault weapons ban and all that, and let every state make their own laws about how much gun control they want and don't. So, I think I can win in the West. Bill Clinton did by four points in Montana, I think Bill Clinton won in Arizona, he won in Colorado. I can win in the West.

In the South, it's gonna be harder. I think we can win – there's a number of states I think we can win in the South. What I'm gonna do if I become the nominee, is I'm gonna go to those states where it's – even if it's an uphill climb – in Texas – because I know that the undercard may need me. I went down to Austin, Texas last week, in East Austin, 3,200 people showed up.

Now, that's energizing the base, and what we've – the mistake that we've made in the past is not to energize our base. We cannot take our base for granted any more. And if you energize the base – [applause, cheering] – if you energize the base and you give people a reason to vote, they're gonna come out. And you may not win in that particular state, but you're gonna give the Congressmen and the mayors and all the other people on the ballot a much better shot at it. And I believe that the president of the United States – the Democratic president of the United States needs to be president of all the people, and I will be in every state if you want me to be. [Applause.]

Moderator: Second question, Cynthia Lemere.

Lemere: Governor, as a enrolled member of the Yangton-Sioux tribe of South Dakota, this question is also very close to me in that, could you please describe if you support sovereignty of Native American nations, and if so, why or why not?

Dean: I do. That is an obligation that we have had for many, many, many years. I think you have to be careful. You have to – you know, it's a – it's a nation-to-nation relationship, and you have to keep that in mind. But it's interesting. I've spent some time with Native American leaders, and I've spent a lot of time with constituency groups of the Democratic Party, and what I've discovered is that the things we need in America are common to everybody. When I talk to Native American leaders, what I find is one of the biggest issues is jobs, and the second biggest – maybe a close second is health care. That is true of every American, no matter what group they may belong to. So, many of the issues that are specific to Native Americans are really not.

What we've done in your community, frankly, as a country, is a disgrace, where we have 45 percent of kids who are at risk, enormous unemployment rates. We need to do a whole lot better than that, and one of the things we need is a complete overhaul of the BIA, who have not served us well for many, many years. [Applause.]

Moderator: [Secretary of the DNC] Alice Germond.

Germond: Governor Dean, President Bush said his model Supreme Court Justices are Scalia and Thomas. [Faint groaning.] What can I say? With the number of justices considering retirement, I would like to hear your thoughts on the kind of Justices you would like to see serving on the Supreme Court.

Dean: Well, the reason that Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas are not gonna be considered is because their interpretation of the constitution is out of the mainstream. Most Americans don't agree with it and most lawyers don't agree with it. There will be – you know, I hate to ever say anything nice about Dick Nixon, but Dick Nixon once said he wanted strict constructionists on the bench. That means people who will uphold the constitution. You know what? He was right.

These members of the far-right Federalist Society that this president insists on appointing do not understand the constitution of the United States the way James Madison did. [Applause.] And if they did – and if they did, the part of the PATRIOT Act that allows Americans to be incarcerated without trial and without a lawyer would be thrown out.

Look, I don't think – we all understand that we have to have more security and maybe a little less civil liberties, but I don't think any American wants their libraries rummaged through without a search warrant, have a librarian threatened in order to find out what books they took out without a warrant, without even probable cause. This administration apparently doesn't believe in the Bill of Rights, and I'll appoint judges who do believe in the Bill of Rights. [Applause. Cheering.]

Moderator: Tina Abbott.

Abbott: Got caught up in listening. [Laughter.] Millions of people have lost their jobs since George W. Bush took office. What is your plan to put people back to work?

Dean: Well, we talked about that a little earlier on, and the basic pillars are, one, we've really got to get the fiscal situation in the country under control. Balanced budgets matter because people don't invest in countries without balanced budgets, and one of the things that's happened in this country is direct foreign investment has shriveled up since this president took office, because he can't manage the country's fiscal situation. Four hundred billion dollar deficits, that doesn't create a job. This president has really used Argentina as his fiscal model [laughter] and we need a different kind of approach.

Secondly, we do need to invest in small businesses. They create jobs.

Thirdly, we need a health insurance plan for every American. That actually puts money into the system and reduces the payments that large employers, union members pay out of their pockets, and that puts more money back in the system. This president would have been far better off, instead of having the tax cuts, if he had invested half of those tax cuts, as I have proposed to do, in a system that allows every American to have health insurance that can't be taken away. That has an economic stimulus to it. [Applause.]

Third – finally, finally, we do need direct investment in infrastructure. This economy will recover, as long as we get this president out of office. [Applause. Cheering.]

Moderator: Rickey Cole.

Cole: Governor, do you agree with the Bush-Rumsfeld preemptive defense strategy, and if so, what criteria must be satisfied to trigger a preemptive U.S. strike against another nation?

Dean: Let me – let me take that one head on. You know, there's a lot of people around here – not around here – but a lot of people in the campaigns, both Republicans and Democrats, who are saying, "whisper, whisper, Dean can't win ‘cause he voted against – he didn't support Iraq and preemptive strike." I actually believe that I may be the only person who can win, because I did not support the president's policy in Iraq. [Huge applause, cheering.] Because, if we have to do things that are untruthful in order to get elected, this country's in worse trouble than I thought it was, and I don't think it is. [Applause.]

Now, here's the situation. We have a right, to defend ourselves, and if Saddam had been an immediate threat to the United States of America, I would have supported the president. I did support the president when we went into Afghanistan. That was an immediate threat to the United States of America. They were harboring people who had just murdered 3,000 of our people.

I did not support the president on Iraq because the fact of the matter is, as we now found out, the president's administration was not truthful. That Donald Rumsfeld said, "We know where the sites are for weapons of mass destruction around Tikrit and Baghdad." Well, now we control Iraq. Where are they, Mr. Secretary? That the President of the United States said, "There's an imminent danger that Saddam Hussein will attack us and that he has given authority to his troops to use chemical weapons." Where were those chemical weapons and where was the attack?

Now look, I'm glad Saddam Hussein is gone. He was a horrible person and he murdered a lot of his people. Here's the problem with the preemptive Bush Doctrine: Some day soon, another country, somewhere in the world, will attack one of its weaker neighbors and cite the doctrine of preemption as a justification. That is a mistake. [Applause.]

And now, now, what should we do now? Our soldiers are there. We can't leave. If we leave, there will be chaos or perhaps a fundamentalist regime, which could invite Al-Qaeda in. We need now to be committed to this democracy that we hope we're gonna build in Iraq.

But the president's track record is awful. In Afghanistan, the military did a great job, and then the president has mismanaged it ever since by defending only Kabul and allowing the warlords, who are anti-democratic and anti-woman, to run the rest of the country. Have we not learned in this country that the enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friends? We have got to stop having this foreign policy [applause] where we work with unsavory people. That is not – in the long run, that's not in defense of the United States of America. Who do you think gave weapons to Osama bin Laden? It was us, because he was fighting the Russians. This foreign policy of this country needs some significant thought. We need to think ten or fifteen years down the line, not just what's gonna happen next week. [Applause. Cheering.]

We, we, we cannot permit nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula. I understand that. But, you know, we are the largest and most powerful country on the face of the earth. It seems to me that we ought to be a little magnanimous. What difference does it make if we have bilateral negotiations with the North Koreans if it'll avert a war later on? We can do this. We just have to remember we are the strongest country in the world, and we've got to stop thinking like we're a pipsqueak and we have to worry about negotiating the size of the table. We can do better. We need somebody, not just who's tough enough, we need somebody unlike President Bush, who's so worried about appearing tough that he's not as tough as he needs to be. [Applause.]

Moderator: Bob Ream.

Ream: Governor, this question follows on the last. Americans living abroad are daily confronted with the fact that the Bush administration's unilateralism and disregard for international institutions is ruining America's image overseas. What will you do to try to restore America's image?

Dean: I believe in a community at home and community abroad. A community at home we talked a little bit about. I don't think this country's ever gonna reach it's greatness unless every single American is included. Equal rights under the law for every single American, not just the ones you play golf with, but every single American first. That's – the same is true of nations. We're gonna have disputes, and we're gonna have to send soldiers abroad, not just in our own defense, but if there's genocide. I fully supported Bill Clinton when he sent troops to Kosovo and Bosnia because there was genocide, and the Europeans didn't do what they were supposed to do to stop it. So, we are gonna be abroad, but we need to do this cooperatively.

This president has used humiliation as a weapon, not only against our enemies, but against our friends. Now we need those friends. You know what our solution is in Iraq? We can't leave, so we desperately need the United Nations and NATO in now, not so we can be nice to the French and the Germans – "the dreaded French", as the president might say – [laughter] the reason is that our soldiers deserve to have more troops there to protect them. We're losing eight – [applause] – we're losing eight soldiers a week over there because the president doesn't have enough troops over there, and his own general, General Shinseki told him he needed more troops, and he didn't pay any attention because this is not an administration that's dependent on facts. This is an administration that's driven by ideology, and facts don't matter, and that's wrong. [Applause.]

Moderator: We have time for one more question from our panelist, Cynthia Lemere.

Lemere: Governor, the Bush administration has not only caused the multi-trillion dollar deficit [debt] that our children and grandchildren will now be responsible for, but at the same time, they've also cut critical state assistance for federal funding, and the budgets are ballooning at the state levels. What are you proposing to help the states?

Dean: Well, first of all, it depends what the states did, and I'm just gonna be tough as nails about this. In our state, we didn't have huge, irresponsible tax cuts to cater to voters without telling the truth about what was gonna happen ten years later. So, if you have a Republican governor that went out there – [applause] – I mean, again, I'll pick on Iowa, but I could pick on New York or New Jersey. In Iowa –

Audience member: Minnesota! [Laughter.]

Dean: Well, he has an independent governor, though, right?

Audience members: No!

Dean: All right. There's a bunch of states with Republican governors – maybe Jesse [Ventura] did this too. He did do this, didn't he? [Laughter.] All right, here's the deal. You get into office, you puff yourself up and tell everybody how great you are, and then you give everybody tax cuts you can't afford! This president is running the United States the way Enron was run, and we can't afford that, because [applause] look, I believe in balancing the books. My – I come from a long line of Scots, and I believe the books – balancing the books matter.

Politicians in this country for the last ten years – mostly on the other side of the aisle – have promised people everything, and now we're getting the arpege (a kind of perfume), except it's not arpege. [Pause.] For those of you who are old enough to remember that ad – [laughter] – I can see there's not a lot of – I'm glad there's so many young people in the audience. [Laughter.] So, what this president has done was the same thing all those Republican governors did in the '90s: give 'em huge tax cuts now, and then, when it comes time to pay the bill, we're in trouble.

Most Americans – this is the interesting thing about this, I'm gonna finish off with – this is the last question, right?

Moderator: Yes, sir.

Dean: Let me finish off with this. It's why I so badly want a Democrat to be the presidential nominee of this party that believes in being a Democrat. And the reason I want that so badly is, I firmly believe the only way we can beat this president is not to vote for half his stuff. I think the notion of getting foreign affairs off the agenda by supporting the [Iraq War] Resolution, even if you claim you made him go to the U.N. – which wasn't true, I read the Resolution – even if you claim that, we're not gonna get foreign affairs and national security off the agenda of the American people, because the president's gonna put that on every time. What we have to do – what we have to do is set the agenda ourselves. [Applause.]

We want health insurance! Harry Truman – Harry Truman put health insurance in the Democratic Party platform in 1948. We shouldn't just dust if off when elections come around because the base likes it. I did it because I stood up for it every single day, and when I didn't get what I wanted, we went back and got the rest of it later. Every kid in our state under 18 has health insurance. We can do that in America. [Applause. Cheering.]

Now, what I want us to do is to stand up and be proud, because you know something we're gonna find out when we finally do that? We're gonna find out that the majority of the American people agree with the Democratic agenda [big applause, cheering] and not the Republican agenda, so let's go with an agenda that wins! And that's the Democratic Party agenda!

We can do this, but it's gonna be you that does it. I want you do go out and talk to your friends, I want you to get on the web, those of you that are so inclined, look at We have 34,000 volunteers around this country. The next biggest campaign has 1,300. We're gonna win this race, and the way we're gonna wing it – "wing it" – win it – [laughter]. We're gonna wing it, too. We are winging it. [Laughter.] The way we're gonna win this race is to bring all those people back into this party who have given up because they don't think there's a difference between the Republican and Democratic Party. [Applause.] We're gonna show them that there is a difference, and that we're willing to stand on principle. Bill Clinton said that the American people will always vote for someone who's strong and wrong before they'll vote for someone who's weak and right. And if we're willing to say whatever it takes to win, we're gonna lose! It's about time we stood up for what we think is right, and lo and behold, what a surprise, we're gonna win, and we're gonna take back the White House if we stand up for what we believe! [Applause. Cheering.]

--- End ---

[Many thanks to Chris Saunders for emailing me this transcript - Crocuta.]



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