NBC Today

January 28, 2004

HEADLINE: Former Governor Howard Dean discusses his second place victory in New Hampshire and his campaign


KATIE COURIC, co-host:

Howard Dean is spending the day in his home state of Vermont mapping out a strategy to move forward after finishing well behind John Kerry in New Hampshire.

Governor Dean, good morning. Nice to see you again. I feel like this is Ground Hog's Day, I have been talking to you so much lately.

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

COURIC: Let's talk about your second place victory in New Hampshire. It was 39 to 26 percent in terms of the margin between you and Senator John Kerry.



JOHN KERRY (D) 82.594 39%

HOWARD DEAN (D) 56,353 26%

COURIC: Last night I know you told-you portrayed yourself to your supporters as the comeback kid, but was it enough of a comeback?

Gov. DEAN: I think it was. We did what we had to do. We play in every primary to win. And, of course, we can't win all of them. But, you know, we really do have a strong message, somebody from outside Washington willing to stand up for American families. You know, all of these folks running for president are good people. And believe me, I think any of them would be better than George W. Bush. But I really want to change America and not just change presidents in Washington. We are seeing a lot of middle class people in this country really hurt. And we can change that. We changed that in this state. We have health insurance for everybody under 18. We balanced budgets. We have a half a trillion dollars deficit in-in-in Washington and nobody's going to do anything about it. We really do need a change.

COURIC: I don't want to sound like a broken record, Governor, and I know we've discussed this before, the two of us already this week, but electability seems to be sort of the catch word in this campaign. And, apparently, people just don't think or many voters are not confident that you could beat the president. How are you going to counter that sentiment?

Gov. DEAN: Well, first of all, let me remind you that a month ago everybody thought that we were the most likely to beat the president. So polls come and go. The way we are going to beat the president is the way nobody else can beat the president. We're bringing huge numbers of new voters into the process. That's the only way we can beat George Bush. And we're the only campaign that seems to be able to do that, because the people know that we're going to stand up for them. We know 89 percent of our money comes from small donations. Everybody else gets most of their money from 1,000 and $2,000 checks. This is really a campaign to reclaim America for ordinary Americans.

COURIC: Governor Dean, one exit poll showed that while there was an overwhelming or is overwhelming opposition to the war in Iraq in New Hampshire, it was not a driving issue for voters there. And of those who opposed it, their votes were divided between you and Senator Kerry. In hindsight, do you think that it was a mistake to make this such a cornerstone of your campaign and make-make such a big deal of John Kerry's vote supporting the decision to go to war in the state of New Hampshire?

Gov. DEAN: First of all, you all made it the cornerstone of the campaign. I got into this race to balance the budget and make sure everybody had health insurance in America. I think the-the issue of the difference in our votes really is more of an issue of who we are. What-what you see is-in me is somebody who stands for what they believe in. I believe the president wasn't being candid with the American people last year. I said so. Nobody else would stand with me. Then as the war become-became less popular, the other Democrats started saying-criticizing the president. I stood up against No Child Left Behind last year. Nobody else was with me. No Child Left Behind turns out to be undermining public schools all over America. What you get with me is somebody who will stand up for what they think is right, not just what is popular at the time. And that's a characteristic of an outside the beltway politician instead of a Washington insider.

COURIC: Last night your speech to supporters was much different in style and tone. As you were giving it...

Gov. DEAN: Yes it was, wasn't it?

COURIC: ...were you saying, 'Easy Howard, don't get carried away? Don't get too fired up.'

Gov. DEAN: No, you know, I don't regret the speech in Iowa because I really did stand up for the supporters who worked so hard for me. But the failure I had in Iowa was not lack of enthusiasm, obviously. It was the fact that I realized that it was going to look a lot different on television than it did in the room. So I was-you know, we had even more people last night at the celebration than we did in Iowa. I was pleased. You know, we got some momentum back in the campaign. And it's going to take a long time to get back what we had as the front-runner status, but we are determined to do it. We really want to change this country.

COURIC: And very quickly, what will your strategy be going into important states like South Carolina? After all, John Edwards is the native son. Wesley Clark hails from Arkansas. Al Sharpton has been courting the black vote. How are you going to sort of make up-make your mark in what is considered the gateway of Southern support?

Gov. DEAN: We compete everywhere. We're going to be in 13 state including the District of Columbia in the next 12 days. We compete everywhere. We want delegates from every state and we are going to work as hard as we possibly can to get them. There really is a message of change that applies to the South as well as the North.

COURIC: All right.

Gov. DEAN: If you've lost your job, I have a governor-I have a governor who would like to be president, and that person will stand up for you.

COURIC: All right, Governor Howard Dean. Once again, thanks so much for your time this morning.

Gov. DEAN: Thanks, Katie.

COURIC: And now, here's Matt.

MATT LAUER, co-host:

All right, Katie. Thank you very much.

Copyright 2004 National Broadcasting Co. Inc.


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