Hardball with Chris Matthews

February 10, 2004

BYLINE: Marisa Buchanan; Pat Buchanan; Craig Crawford; Joe Trippi; Ron Reagan; Chris Matthews; David Shuster

GUESTS: John Edwards; John Kerry; Sheri Annis; Ron Reagan; Jacques De Graff; Howard Dean

Senator John Kerry wins two more Democratic presidential primaries, defeating Senator John Edwards and former General Wesley Clark in Tennessee and Virginia.


MATTHEWS: Joining me right now, Governor Howard Dean.

Governor, how do you catch John Kerry? He just won 12 of 14 contests tonight?

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you rely on Wisconsin voters. Wisconsin voters have never wanted a rubber stamp of the choices of the poll, or the media or even 20 percent of the voters.

They have a long habit in Wisconsin of electing people like Bob Refowlett (ph) and Bill Prosner (ph) and Russ Feingold, who stood up when it mattered and not just when it was popular. And that's why I am planting my flag in Wisconsin.

MATTHEWS: What do you think about that state? Do you think it's a state that's more liberal, more anti-war, more consistent with your campaign? Or why that state and not the ones that John Dean-John Kerry won today?

DEAN: I think this state-first of all, this primary is a very interesting primary. Independents and Republicans can vote in this primary, so in some ways it's more representative than any state for the general election.

Secondly, they have a long history here of looking at political corruption and special interests and rejecting that.

And I think that it's a good state for a candidate like me, who's got about 89 percent of their money from small donations or ordinary Americans. It's a good state for somebody like me, who did stand up against the war before it was popular, who stood up against No Child Left Behind.

Their senator, Russ Feingold, also voted against the war, voted against No Child Left Behind, was the only senator to vote no on the Patriot act.

So this is the kind of state that tends to think carefully before they just go and vote.

And, you know, John Kerry is running a huge-running with a huge tide of momentum, which is engulfing voters before they have a chance to think about his candidacy or my candidacy or anybody else's. And I think Wisconsin is a great place to pause, to let voters think for a minute, and that's what we're going to try to let them do.

MATTHEWS: Is John Kerry a special interest candidate?

DEAN: Well, as you know, “The Washington Post” had an article that said he took more special interest money than any other candidate in the Senate in 15 years. And I would say that certainly that makes it difficult for him to run against George Bush. who most certainly is a special interest candidate.

MATTHEWS: What do you define as special interest? Any trade association, any labor group, any citizens group, any causes group?

DEAN: Well...

MATTHEWS: Is the League of Conservation Voters an interest group? Is the Wilderness Society an interest group? What are the interest groups?

DEAN: The kinds of things that are disturbing are taking money from people like Johnny Chung and his clients, and then calling the SEC to see if his clients would get favorable treatment.

Taking money for an insurance-from an insurance company and then acting to help them in some matter. That's the kind of thing that I really get concerned about.

The president, for example, wrote the Medicare prescription bill, and it turns out it doesn't help seniors at all. What it really does is funnel over $100 million to the drug industry and $85 billion to HMOs and insurance companies. And that's our tax money.

So that's what I call a special interest. A special interest-you know, people call unions special interests. For me, unions are not a special interest, even though they haven't given us any money.

But if they were to, that is not a special interest, because I'm in favor of the kinds of things that labor unions are in favor of generally, which is better standards of livings for ordinary people and so forth.

I would say if John Kerry took money from an environmental group, that is not special interest, because John Kerry has a good environmental record. He would vote that way anyway.

But if John Kerry takes money from an insurance company and then does a favor for them, that's special interest.

MATTHEWS: You're going to be able to raise, I understand from the papers, about a million dollars for the Wisconsin campaign. Can you raise any more for future campaigns? Is this the end of the road? Do you have to...

DEAN: No, I think our supporters...

MATTHEWS: Do you have to win in Wisconsin basically?

DEAN: Well, we really do need to win in Wisconsin. We really-In order to start to turn this around, we really have to win in Wisconsin.

In order to do well on Super Tuesday, we really need to win here, and I know that. Our supporters just want to keep going forever and I know that's not possible. But they don't want us to quit.

They just don't want us to knuckle under to the kind of Washington politics that's going on here.

And I've got to-we've made every major decision in this campaign in concert with hundreds of thousands of people who supported us. And I'm not going to quit without talking to them first, and that means we're not quitting after Wisconsin.

MATTHEWS: You're not quitting after Wisconsin?


MATTHEWS: What would stop you after that, if that doesn't work out well?

DEAN: Well, you know, I'm not-this is not going to be a quixotic campaign to, you know, to wreck the Democrats' chances of beating George Bush.

I got into this campaign, because I didn't think the Democratic Party had enough backbone to stand up to George Bush and we need to change presidents.

This is the most destructive president, both at home and abroad, that we've had in my lifetime. So, you know, this is not going to be a spoiler's campaign.

But the Democratic Party still, I think, is in a lot of trouble. I think what we have now is an agenda that's sort of inside the Beltway politics. And I don't think that serves ordinary people well.

The ordinary people have lost out in this government. They've lost out in Washington in both parties for too long. And I think it's time for this government to be taken back by ordinary people.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much.

DEAN: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Thanks for coming on to HARDBALL again, Governor Howard Dean of Vermont.

DEAN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.


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