April 10th, 2008
04:15 PM ET
10 years ago

Dean: I feared Romney more than McCain

 Howard Dean says John McCain is a 'weak' candidate.

Howard Dean says John McCain is a 'weak' candidate.

(CNN)— Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Thursday he feared his party's nominee facing Mitt Romney in the general election more than any other candidate.

“Frankly, Mitt Romney was the candidate I feared the most in the general because he’s got plenty of money, he’s wealthy,” Dean told reporters at a committee briefing. “He’s very articulate and he willing to say practically anything, and Republican voters want discipline.”

When asked if he'd fear a McCain-Romney ticket, Dean said the former Massachussetts governor was the best candidate the Republicans were probably “ever going to get.”

Romney dropped out of the presidential race last February saying that if he continued his campaign it would "forestall the launch of a national campaign…making it easier for Senator Clinton or Obama to win." His departure from the race essentially secured John McCain’s place as the presumptive Republican nominee.

Dean also characterized McCain, as a “weak candidate,” one who is very out of touch with “21st century Americans” on issues like the economy, Iraq War, and health care. He added that McCain has no plans to get out of Iraq or solve the mortgage crisis.

(UPDATED with RNC response after the jump)

Largely placing the blame of McCain’s “weak brand” on the Republican National Committee, Dean said what frightened him the most was, “the extent that the [RNC] were willing to brand John McCain as a wishy washy person,” without any pressure from their Democratic rivals.

While Dean expressed that McCain should be widely admired for his service to the United States, he said "that was 40 years ago," and doesn't mean he should be the next president.


UPDATE: The Republican National Committee responded to Dean's attack Thursday:

“Howard Dean’s delusions aside, John McCain is widely respected for being straightforward and honest with the American people, and he has a lifelong and distinguished record of service that has warranted the admiration of voters from all walks of life," said RNC spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson. "At the end of the day, Americans are going to elect Senator McCain as President because he has the judgment, character, and positive vision to strengthen our nation’s economy and win the War on Terror.”

Filed under: Howard Dean • John McCain • Mitt Romney
soundoff (190 Responses)
  1. The Truth

    For 'Tom' and 'go away Howard!!!'

    How did H.Dean mess up Florida and Michigan??? Do you even know what you are talking about? The Governors of Florida and Michigan made the final decision to move up their elections (Flor. Gov. is a Repub.). So why not blame the two governors? How could you possibly blame Dean? I'm glad Dean is sticking to his guns b/c RULES ARE RULES. You must be Clinton supporters because you guys obviously aren't acknowledging the rules. Try reading them sometime, they are very clear.

    April 10, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  2. Bill, Streamwood, IL

    I can't believe that Howard Deen came up with this all by himself.

    Regardless, I hope that Mitt Romney has too many principles to run with Senator McCain.

    April 10, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  3. Concerned Canadian

    Howard Dean....you were a cuckoo clock in the last Dem primary race for President and you're a bigger cuckoo now ....you messed up so bad you'd make Bush look good. I'm surprised they allow you to still open your mouth. Didn't Donald Trump fire you yet ?

    You should quit now !...while you might still be offered a chauffeur's job for Nancy Pelosi after the convention...if you're lucky.

    April 10, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. Kim

    Sounds more like Dean was describing Hillary. Lots of money and willing to do or say anything to gain power.

    April 10, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  5. Steve B, NewYork. NY

    "Romney dropped out of the presidential race last February saying that if he continued his campaign it would "forestall the launch of a national campaign…making it easier for Senator Clinton or Obama to win." His departure from the race essentially secured John McCain’s place as the presumptive Republican nominee."


    Romney has nore grace and dignity than Mrs. Clinton

    April 10, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  6. cala

    If Romney and Hillary were to face in general election they curse the hell of out of each other. I am glad McCain is the republican nominee and I am hoping obama will become the democrats nominee, that is the only way we are gonna have a civil presidential campaign.

    April 10, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  7. Patrick

    Excuse me... but Howard Dean did not mess up MI and FL. Those states did it to themselves. They violated rules and moved their primaries/caucus up. Should those who break the rules be rewarded? Apparently thats what Hillay thinks.

    April 10, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  8. Patriot

    The person not in touch with the American public is Howard Dean and his Democratic Party. We do not want a Sociaist Government in the United States. We are not Europe and we have no intention of following their lead in any area of endeavor. The only ally we have in the world is England, because they understand the meaning of Freedom. All the other fiefdoms in Europe and the Middle East want to keep their people down. That is why they all want to come to America, the land of opportunity.

    That will not last with the Socialist agenda fostered and promoted by your party. As long as you continue to the left of the political spectrum, you will continue to lose elections.

    April 10, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  9. Torrey New York, New York

    I can not believe what our political system has become. It is a system of fear just like our now faltering economy. If we dont sling mud we can't win why can't someone run a clean campaign. We are not honoring what our founding fathers wanted us to do, we are degrading the light of freedom that is America. We need to keep the media out of the race, i want no editorials i want noone telling me what to think. I am capable of making the decision for myself if i actually get to hear what the candidates have to say. As an independant voter (AKA neither Republican or Democrat) i am ashamed of the shameful way our politicians run for office. I dont care at all for the mud being thrown at our nations future leader whoever it may be.
    I want everyone to be respectful of each other of the candidates, the parties and the independants. WE are all smart people we are all educated we can all read and listen and understand why not let us make up our own minds about who is to control the reigns of power in this country.

    April 10, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  10. Paulinus, Canada

    He fears Romney because they have a similar temperament not good for politics.

    April 10, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  11. nina

    Does Howard Dean know that he messed the Democratic Party so bad, he is not going to win this one.

    April 10, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  12. Patrick

    Chris... are you being a troll or what? Obama is not a muslim... and even if he was that doesn't necessarily mean he would be "pro Al-Qaeda" as there are millions of peaceful muslims who do not support their actions.

    April 10, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  13. Mike

    This guy is an idiot... He basically has handed the election to the Republicans!!!

    By not counting FL and MI the democratic party will be divided because there is not a clear winner in the primary... the superdelegates might as well vote "none of the above" because they will upset 50% of the voters and get blamed for picking the wrong candidate if the democrats lose...

    You need to throw out the delegates and the popular vote... not all of the states are going to be counted so it favor one candidate over another... it is obvious that neither candidate will reach the magic number... a compromise needs to be made and put both of them on a joint ticket... this is a horrible mess!!!

    April 10, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  14. Retired Professional w/woman for obama

    By the way, we should take notice of a very brave and good man,
    Jay Rockerfeller stood up and blasted McCain a "warmonger"
    which most of America believes, he is. Congratulations for your
    Courage to stand up to "them" Mr. R. Hope you can join Obama's
    team real soon. Please Do.

    April 10, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  15. truth be told

    I love DEAN. He just tells it like it is...

    If only there were more Deans and less Clintons, America would be a much better place to live in....

    April 10, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  16. Retired Professional w/woman for obama

    Romney, Who likes Romney? I think, if you are in Congress, Senate,
    or Govenor or any elected Official you will be standing for a Party
    that is not "for the people" and this time you names will be carved
    into our souls as Rich Political Hippocrites that only want power,
    money, and the blood of our Soldiers.Politicians that can stand up and say, "I am a Republican", will be very offensive to the American
    people, the Soldiers. We will know You by name!!!!You either robbed America of all that is good or you defended those who sold us to China.
    The hotshots on the news that defend these politicians, will, hopefully
    be a people of the past and their careers will be over because most
    of American cannot stand Hannity, Rove, who is employed by Fox News, Ann Coulter, Carville, Limbaugh. We will remember you always.
    Don't change your colors when you start losing face.

    April 10, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  17. Tejano

    Mike you are absolutely right, Hillary is the only one that has a chance to beat McCain in November. Too bad she won't have that opportunity because the Deans of the Democratic Party wanted their
    Orator as the candidate. Yep good talker, not much of doer.

    McCain will chew him up and spit him out in November.

    If he thinks Hillary was giving him a hard time, wait till the Republicans get down with him. He will be lucky to be re-elected as Senator in the Illinois State legislator. I can see him flipping burgers at McD's

    April 10, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  18. Patrick

    "That will not last with the Socialist agenda fostered and promoted by your party"

    Excuse me... but europe even old europe is doing quite well... and there are still plenty of rich people there yet people have a safety net if they get sick or can't work for awhile. What is wrong with that? If U.S. companies did not have to handle health care/sick leave/maternity leave themselves it would make them all the more profitable.

    True capitalism right? Look at Ireland...they have healthcare "socialized" and there are plenty of jobs esp. tech jobs there.

    What is wrong with that?

    April 10, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  19. Stacy Clarks,

    DEMOCRATS IN 08!!!


    April 10, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  20. J houston, TX

    The only difference between Obama's platform and McCain's is a timetable for withdrawl. Neither candidate will instantly "end the war." Otherwise, McCain supports almost everything Obama does and vice versa. They have different social security fixes, but I don't think many Americans understand that anyways. Most of usdon't even save for retirement if they have the money to do it.

    Obama voters are generally young or those motivated by speeches on the matter. Hillary is not a strong public speaker, not that McCain is outstanding, but while Hillary can work a crowd, McCain can work an audience at a debate far better. We've seen this several times in the debates so far.

    People forget the country isn't 50/50 GOP/DNC...it's 25/50/25 RNP/IND/DNC. All that Obama support comes from a large sector of IND and the Hillary support comes from the older entrenched Democrats. If Hillary is nominated, Obama support swings on platform, not on party. If Obama is nominated, we'll have a race...and the youth turnout will determine the election. Historically, that suggests GOP success.

    April 10, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  21. For Freedom

    Dean is to blame for the democratic party mess.

    He tried to force an Obama win and sacrificed the best candidate the democrats have.

    The Obama supporters still fail to understand the obvious- you alienated the Hillary democrats when you started insulting us, our candidate, and our intelligence.

    I am a lifelong democrat, earn a high wage, have 2 college degrees and looking forward to a happy retirement. I have absolutely NOTHING to lose by a McCain win. I always have voted democrat to help the less fortunate and to build a better future for young people.

    Not this time. You have insulted and denigrated and mocked the Hillary democrats right on over to the other side. Did you really think Obama could win in Nov without the votes of the Hillary democrats.

    Hope you enjoy life under McCain- I will personally work to ensure an Obama Loss in Nov. That is the price to pay for Obama supporters disrespecting your fellow democrats and fellow Americans. You are all so vulgar and violent. I would never vote for the candidate you support.

    It is Hillary and Hillary only for me. Her supporters did not resort to name-calling and insults.

    April 10, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  22. Peg

    Dean, if you or your surrogates read this, let me warn you that what you really need to fear is how divided the Democratic party is getting. Maybe you think all will be OK and everyone will be happy to endorse the other candidate......but it ain't gonna happen this time.

    The longer this thing goes on, the more chance McCain has regardless of who he chooses as a running mate.

    In 1988 the Democrats out performed the Republicans in the primaries by more than this year....it did them no good, HW won anyway. So thinking the longer this thing goes on the stronger the party becomes.....is just plain nuts!

    Get on the horn and get those supers to endorse.....NOW!

    April 10, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  23. lynette

    chris and mr. No obama go blog to blog insulting obama, your comments are usually bigoted and extreme. Also bayou joe, FYI both Powell and rice said they like obama as a candidate, and you need to lean a little respect it's african american to you.

    April 10, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  24. Torrey New York, New York

    In response to ...
    ((Mike April 10th, 2008 4:59 pm ET
    However it makes no difference even if Bush could run again. The GOP blew away a war hero like Kerry in 2004. Just imagine the field day they are going to have with Obama and his racist, anti-Americanism church.......))

    I would like to know since the only quote of rev. wright i have hear about was about the nukes we dropped on hiroshima and nagasaki what exactly was he saying that was a lie?? I am not an american hater, I love my country but why can't we admit it when we did something wholly wrong and got bit in the rear end for it???? I would really like to know what is so anti-american and racist about facts?

    April 10, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  25. Mike

    Romney, McLame, Limbaugh. It does not matter. America wants to come home and end the war in Iraq. Anyone who is in bed with the crooked Lobby groups for the corrupt corporations who profit from war, Bush, (yes Clinton), Chenny etc. is not going to win the Presidency. Only O8ama is not owned by these war profiteers and he is the only candidate who can be trusted to bring our troops home.

    April 10, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
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