Interview on 'Wolf Blitzer Reports'

January 26, 2004

WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now. Hours away from the first vote in the New Hampshire primary. Howard Dean tells me bluntly he thinks he will win.

Also, rare comments from the candidate's wife. Will Dr. Judy Dean give up her medical practice for the White House? You'll hear from her in my special interview with the couple.

Stand by for hard news on WOLF BLITZER REPORTS.

Howard Dean -- taking on New Hampshire and the media.

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I never worry about the news media being fair, the news media does what the news media does, they're an entertainment business as much as the news media.

BLITZER: You don't think we're in the business of reporting the news and providing information...

DEAN: I think you report the news, you create the news and that's what you guys do, and that's fine.

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BLITZER: In just seven hours the crucial New Hampshire primary gets under way, polling sites throughout the state are ready for business. The tiny northern village of Dixville Notch traditionally cast the first votes at midnight, Eastern. As for the polls, at least one shows Senator John Kerry and former Vermont governor Howard Dean in a statistical dead heat, while others show Kerry with a significant lead. Regardless of the polls, Dean appears to be confident of the outcome. Dean, and his wife Dr. Judy Dean talked to me about it earlier today.


BLITZER: Can you win in New Hampshire?

DEAN: I think we can, it's very close, we've been surging the last few days. The polls say it's a dead heat, but who wants to believe the polls and some say it's not a dead heat so who knows but there is a lot of surge and people are anxious not to have politicians in Washington running the show.


[Miscellaneous unrelated news and comment omitted]

BLITZER: ...Pumped up and confidently speaking out.


DEAN: I think you report the news, you create the news, and that's what you guys do, and that's fine.

BLITZER: We didn't create your concession speech, you did that.

DEAN: You chose to play it 673 times in one week.



[Miscellaneous unrelated news and comment omitted]

BLITZER: Coming up -- what Howard Dean's real motivation. I spoke to the expert.


DR. JUDITH DEAN, HOWARD DEAN'S WIFE: Mission for this run is to improve the life of American people.


BLITZER: Dr. Judy Dean on life inside the campaign and what she'd do if they make it to the White House.

[Miscellaneous unrelated news and comment omitted]

BLITZER: ...The former front-runner is back.


DEAN: There is a lot of surge because people are really anxious not to have politicians from Washington running the show, they really want a change.


[Miscellaneous unrelated news and comment omitted]

BLITZER: Howard Dean is battling to try to regain the lead he once held in the polls here in New Hampshire. He's certainly gotten a lot of attention since his stunning defeat in the Iowa caucuses. It all ads up to serious pressure in the stretch run to tomorrow's primary.


BLITZER (voice-over): An enthusiastic town hall meeting in Nashua, Howard Dean well received by his core supporters.

Then it was on to Manchester, Durham, and Exeter. Again today, Dean launches attacks on front-runner John Kerry for voting against the Gulf War, then for the Iraq war. This is clearly a candidate with a sense of urgency, but is Howard Dean in trouble?

Today, I caught up with the former Vermont governor and his wife, Judy, fresh off the event in Nashua and with a fresh sense of confidence.

BLITZER (on camera): Can you win in New Hampshire here?

H. DEAN: I think we can. It's very close. We've been surging in the last few days. The polls have said that it's a dead heat, although who wants to believe the polls? And some say that it's not a dead heat, so who knows?

But there is a lot of surge, because people really are anxious not to have politicians from Washington running the show. And they really want a change.

BLITZER: What happens if you don't win in New Hampshire?

H. DEAN: We go to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and New Mexico. Of course, that happens if we do win in New Hampshire, too. We'll just be stronger.

BLITZER: Do you think there's some suspicion that South Carolina, you might -- that you'll devote -- all your energies might, maybe, go to Missouri, which is now... H. DEAN: What we're going to do -- five states at least. We've already been in North Dakota, so that's six. We're going to definitely play in South Carolina, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and Missouri.

Whether I go back to North Dakota again, I don't know, but we have a good organization in North Dakota. We've got a deepening organization in Delaware, as well. So we're positioned in all three states.

I mean, one of the things that happened when things were great before Iowa is that we did put a lot of resources into these forward states. And that's going to stand us in good stead now.

BLITZER: Rumor's out there that money situation is not good right now.

H. DEAN: I think the money situation's tough for everybody. You know, we tried to do everything we could in these two states to win. But you know, we have a huge base of support, so we're going to be able to keep going.

BLITZER: What's the biggest problem that you faced so far? Is it the attacks from the other Democrats? Is it your own personal stumbles? What's the biggest issue that's hurt you in Iowa and New Hampshire?

H. DEAN: Well, in New Hampshire we're coming roaring back. What hurt us in New Hampshire was John Kerry and John Edwards won the primary -- I mean, the caucuses in Iowa. That was just a bounce.

But sort of -- what hurt us was six or eight weeks of being the undisputed front-runner: TIME magazine, the cover; Newsweek cover; U.S. News cover. Every media organ and reporter went after us, because you know, take down the front-runner. Every opponent went after us. We just got hammered.

And when we defended ourselves, we took the people who were hammering us down, but we also took ourselves down. And that's why we finished third in Iowa.

Now we have another chance. New Hampshire voters are famous for giving people a second chance. I think they like my strong fiscal management, and they like the fact that I'm not promising everybody everything. And so I think I have a shot here.

BLITZER: John Kerry, who has been out there in New Hampshire -- he won Iowa -- he's complaining that you're now going negative against him, raising questions about his judgment, voting against the '91 resolution, either the resolution before this one...

H. DEAN: I do question Senator Kerry's judgment. Senator Kerry voted against the first Gulf War, which I supported, when there were troops on the ground -- Iraqi troops on the ground in Kuwait, setting fire to Kuwaiti oil wells, which was a major environmental catastrophe. He voted not to intervene. Then he votes to intervene recently in the Iraq war, which I opposed, because the president gives him all these reasons, so far all of which have turned out not to be true. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Iraq was never a threat to the United States. There was no purchase of uranium from Iraq.

So I'm -- you know, Senator Kerry spent a lot of time on this campaign worrying about my foreign policy experience. Perhaps my foreign policy experience and judgment might be better in the White House than his, since he seems to have voted wrong on both wars.

BLITZER: So is he not qualified to be president?

H. DEAN: No, I would never say that. Anybody who's running for this presidency on the Democratic side is far more qualified than George W. Bush.

BLITZER: There's been negative attacks. The negative attacks, are they going to continue throughout this process?

H. DEAN: Well, I don't consider this to be a negative attack. I consider it -- John voted against the first Iraq war. I disagree with him. John voted in favor of this Iraq war. I disagree with him. I think that's a difference in our records, not a negative attack.

BLITZER: I also point out to you David Kay's acknowledgment right now. He went over there convinced there were weapons of mass destruction stockpiled. And he says openly right now he couldn't find any weapons (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

H. DEAN: I believed that there were, so I was surprised when they came home and said there weren't, as well. But, you know, the Bush administration said so many things that were false that I wasn't entirely shocked.

They clearly tried to gin up every piece of intelligence to try to get us to go into that war. And my question is: Why did all the senators who are running for president fall for it and I didn't?

I supported the first Gulf War. I supported the Afghanistan war. I supported the president's intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo. This one I didn't support, because I didn't think the facts merited it. And it turns out I was right, and they weren't. Why is that a problem in my foreign policy experience?

BLITZER: David Kay says that your question over the intelligence community, the CIA and also owe the president, the administration (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

H. DEAN: Well, I suspect there's more to it than that. I suspect -- I have talked to somebody from -- it was a former member of the CIA who said that the vice president came down and sat down with lower level members of the CIA and criticized them to their face, the vice president of the United States, for not writing intelligence reports the way he thought they ought to be written. So you have the spectacle of the vice president of the United States trying to intimidate intelligence reporters into giving the kind of information he wanted given to the president. I think there's a lot of explaining to be done, and I think the vice president and the president owes an explanation, not just the CIA.

BLITZER: In the aftermath of your concession speech in Iowa, has the news media been fair to you? Are you playing...

H. DEAN: No, I don't worry about the news media being fair. The news media does what the news media does. They're an entertainment business at least as much as a news media.

BLITZER: Does that mean we're in the business of reporting the news and providing information...

H. DEAN: You report the news. You create the news, and that's what you guys do. And that's fine.

BLITZER: We didn't create you -- your concession speech. You did that.

H. DEAN: Well, but you chose to play it 673 times in one week. That is your privilege. I have to -- if I'm going to run for president, I have to stand up to that. Whatever you guys throw at me, I have to be able to take.

And if you -- if you want to be president of the United States, you had better be willing to take whatever the news media throws at you. And I'm very willing to take it, and I make no apologies.

BLITZER: The research (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it yourself in your very -- speeches as we just heard here.

H. DEAN: Well, it wasn't exactly presidential. But what I regret is that you all didn't show the clip from the thousands of kids who were waving the American flags and screaming and yelling in support.

They had come out. They'd worked their hearts out for three weeks to help me in Iowa. They were disappointed with the third place finish, as was I. I thought I owed it to them to show them some optimism and pep.

And sure, it wasn't very presidential, but I think it was -- it made a lot more sense if you were there than if you just were sitting in the studio.

BLITZER: Dr. Dean, you've been married to the governor for 23 years.


BLITZER: You know him a lot better than all of us -- than all of us know him. What do you know about him that you would share with our viewers right now that they may be surprised to hear?

J. DEAN: I think they already know a lot about him, because he's so straightforward. I think -- I think the most important thing about him is that he's a really caring person, and he's caring in terms of our family, in terms of his patients.

And now he's moved it one step further and he just wants to -- and his motivations for this run is to improve the lives of American people. And that, it sounds simple, but that truly is what it is and it's what he's been doing all along.

BLITZER: When he told you that he wanted to be president of the United States, what went through your mind? What did you say to him?

J. DEAN: Well, I thought it was a big step, but I thought he would make a great president. You know, I...

BLITZER: Did you immediately think, "Hey, Howard, that's great."

J. DEAN: No. I think I sat back and thought about it for awhile. You know, he went into politics so gradually that it kind of came that I accepted it gradually, from the beginning when he was just in the bike path, from lieutenant governor to governor.

And over the years, I've seen how capable he is and how honest he is. And I felt he could do it, and I felt he'd make a great president.

BLITZER: How do you feel now, for you? So many people are talking about you, you know, looking at you? "She's so charming. She's endearing." What about that? What goes through your mind as you become the source of so much media attention?

J. DEAN: I don't read the media attention that much, so you know, I still think Howard is the center of this. And happy to be out here to support him and show my support. And I like the good news, and I don't like the bad news.

BLITZER: I was there when you spoke the other day to a guy in Salem interviewed you about your (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You're a solo practitioner and you've got a lot of commitments. What are you going to do if you go to Washington, and you're in the White House? What happens to your patients?

J. DEAN: Well, you know, if Howard were elected president, that would be -- that's an important thing that I would have to give up my practice, obviously.

And I -- you know, I will enjoy my practice. I'm a good doctor. My patients like me. They've been my patients for a long time. It would be very hard to give them up. But there's not a lot of things more important than being president. So of course, I'd have to give them up for that.

H. DEAN: Although you'd still have a practice in Washington.

J. DEAN: I could still practice medicine. I hope. But...

BLITZER: Would people come to the White House and say, "We're here to see the doctor?"

J. DEAN: Well, my patients have joked about renting a bus once a month to come down. But that won't happen.

BLITZER: We're out of time, but a quick wrap-up question to you, Governor. If you don't lead in New Hampshire, you're going to continue on this campaign, but it will be two losses in a row and that momentum could be undermined.

H. DEAN: No way. We have an enormous amount of support behind us, though. I mean, unlike every other campaign, 89 percent of our money comes from small donations. Those people want to see us win, because they want to see the country change. And we can go on as long as it makes sense to, and we will.

We've got organizations stretched out in the March 2 states, so one way or the other, I expect to be campaigning on March 2.

BLITZER: So you just finished third. Is that what you're saying?

H. DEAN: Well, no, we're trying to win tomorrow. That's the first thing.


BLITZER: Dr. Howard Dean and Dr. Judy Dean speaking with me earlier today.

This question today: Are the news media too hard on Howard Dean? Here's what some of you have to say about that. And we've been getting e-mails, obviously.

Sue writes this: "Hooray for Howard Dean for standing up to Wolf Blitzer in today's interview. I agree that the media have made far too much of the after-Iowa speech. And I agree that news has become entertainment. Dean's unwavering candidness is so refreshing."

Rhonda writes this: "Dean may be a good doctor and a nice person, but he is not presidential material. He's scolded the press, batted at microphones, interrupted voters' question, dismissed them with a smug arrogance if the question irritated him and generally behaved immaturely."

Lots of viewers, lots of e-mail, lots of different opinions. We'll continue to cover this story for our viewers...

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