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. Kentucky

    Thank God Howard Dean never won the democratic nomination. He shows as much leadership as chairman of the DNC as he does in determining the votes in Michigan and Florida. Funny how those two states are penilized while New Hampshire and Puerto Rico go scott free on changing their dates and primaries.
    When will Howard Dean just go back to Vermont!

    April 10, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  2. Chris in Va.

    Mr. Dean, you have not seen the last of Mr. Romney in this election.

    April 10, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  3. California Dreamer

    Seriously, Dean? You fear Romney. The Democratic Party needs to get rid of Howard Dean, we are not even in the general election and he is running around like a headless chicken. Democrats need a change in leadership.

    April 10, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  4. ALBO


    If Hillary is nominated directly or indirectly by the voters of the superdelegates against the majority of the pledged, this would
    imply that many more of OBAMA supporters and independents wold not vote for her, in a worst case swcenario even could disintegrate the Party !!


    April 10, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  5. King

    Nobody is to blame for FL and MI, but their elected officials. Why aren't they held accountable. No wonder, Bush can do whatever the hell he wants.

    April 10, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  6. Chris in Va.

    Mike, you need to take your meds, your slipping away from reality.

    April 10, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  7. Cynthia

    The one thing Dean did say that was correct is that McCain is a weak candidate. All McCain knows is war and most sane people want them to bring home the men and women over there fighting. Enough money that we don't have is being spent and more importantly lives lost.

    April 10, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  8. Jeremiah Grant - Phoenix, AZ

    I never thought I would agree with Howard Dean on anything, but in this instance I think he is absolutely spot on. McCain is weak and out of touch whereas Romney may very well be the best candidate the GOP will see in a long time.

    Perhaps the RNC will learn from its mistake of pushing McCain on us because they fell victim to the liberal media's attempt to have us all believe McCain was the stronger general election candidate. Can you have it any better than from the head of the DNC himself openly admitting that he feared Romney much more than McCain?

    Maybe maybe McCain will salvage things a bit by picking up Romney as his VP, but I doubt it. He continues to be ignorantly arrogrant of his own perceived greatness and belief that he doesn't need Conservatives.

    April 10, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  9. Mr. B.

    We are on the same page. I have said the same thing........nevertheless....

    America Is Ready
    Obama 08

    April 10, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  10. Retired Professional b/woman for ROMNEY

    I am for Romney and I am a retired professional black woman (CPA). McCain should ask Romney to be his running mate – especially in these troubling economic times we are in now.

    This will truly be unbeatable ticket!

    McCain/Romney 08!

    April 10, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  11. kathleen for Obama

    See the picture. These men are insane. Mitt Romney can take
    his Riches back to Bush's Ranch and kick off their boots and
    laugh at how they have skrewed America.

    April 10, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  12. "Typical White Person"

    Dean: "I feared Romney more than McCain". Liar.
    Nice try, though.

    April 10, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  13. Chris, Bethesda, Maryland

    Dean: "I feared Romney more than McCain."

    You shouldn't. Neither I nor any other Democrats were going to defect for Romney, no matter what our misgivings for Obama and Clinton might have been. But we will for McCain.

    April 10, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  14. Gene

    The Democratic Party can't even run a smooth campaign. How the HELL are they going to run our Country?!!!?!?!?!? They'd run it right into the ground, that's what they'd do!!!!!
    We need competent people to run this Country...

    MCCAIN / ROMNEY IN '08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ENOUGH SAID!

    April 10, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  15. Joseph

    America needs the president like Romney ..except his militaristic statments.

    April 10, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  16. kathleen for Obama

    Hillary and Bill sold our jobs down the river. Hillary will have to
    quit soon because the Unions are totally against her. Elton John
    is throwing a fundraiser for Hill, so that she can pay her Campaign
    Staffers Insurance Premiums. Do they know that they are not
    insured? Hillary can't quit because The Clintons will owe some
    $20 Million for past due ledgers. Those poor vendors. How much
    did you eat, Hillary??? Well, you got the money to pay them out of
    your own pocket because it is Elton John, Whoopi, Barbra, and
    women voters only that will vote for you now. Cough up the money,
    Hillary. Pay your staff while you are at it. And you thought "you
    deserved to win"? American people are smarter now.

    April 10, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  17. cp

    In response to Darth Vadik, CA's comment, I hardly call a minor shift in power a "whooping". Also, I seem to remember him not even making it the actual election in 2004. The man is in no way an acceptable leader for a major political party.

    April 10, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  18. Ross in MD

    Dean is actually right.

    Romney actually has quite a bit of executive experience and accomplishments. McCain doesn't know the difference between a Sunni and Shiite.

    Democrats definitely have a nice setup for November – as long as Hillary doesn't sabotage us.

    April 10, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  19. EBC

    Dean is right to state the obvious. The real question is whether Romney is going to USE his money or not.

    I think this is a WAKE UP call to All DEMOCRATS. We need Sen. Clinton to concede so we can get ready for November. That's the reality of the Democratic situation. Hillary has too much baggage and is NOT deem credible. She's destroyed her integrity and credibility status, Americans just DON'T trust her anymore. AND when you are NOT trusted, then it's all over. AND the Republicans will eat Hillary up when it comes to her husband BILL and his impeachment, NAFTA, etc. She will bear the brunt of his presidential legacy, like it or not. AND then you add her own blunders and lies and she is truly going to be nailed to the cross on many issues.

    I honestly feel, this is NOT Hillary's time as President. She has to earn back a lot of the trust lost during this primary. She also is wrapped up in a couple of court cases (Paul vs. Clinton) that will come back to haunt her in November. She has a LOT of bad political baggage.

    If democrats keep fighting this messy fight, then it will come back to bite us in our ARSE come November and then it will be too LATE another BUSH will be in the Presidential Oval Office!!!

    Wake up DEMOCRATS all this bickering is NOT advantageous to the Democratic Nominee, whomever it will be. It gives the Republicans too much TIME to strategize and fundraise millions prior to November.

    If we allow them to do that, SHAME ON US ALL!!!

    April 10, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  20. dave


    April 10, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  21. James, SC

    John McCain's son is serving a protected service in Iraq. Do you think McShame will allow his boy to join real combat? If that were so you would see his name in the papers everyday.

    When will the state governments of MI and FL stand up and except responsibility for what THEY did? I guess America is now a country of convenient laws and rules?!

    April 10, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  22. Jodie

    Go Dean!!! Lets remember that rules were set and some people chose to not follow them. If Romney was running, he would have a better chance of becoming president, because at least he can remember that he's a conservative unlike some people I know. What a joke!! McSame is 71 years old. We need somebody who is in touch with the American people. You complain about Obama not having any experience, well look at Bush. Experience is not everything. Obama has something none of these candidates have..........Perspective. His life is very similar to a majority of American people. And you want to vote for somebody who was fed a golden spoon their whole lives. Go figure! In America we do not do well with change. We would rather have a person who is selfish and prideful as a president then give someone else a chance. If McCain becomes president plan on war with Iran.

    April 10, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  23. kelly WI

    The tax and un-employment rate was higher when Clinton was president than now. Took Bush to fix that and now the dems want it worse again. Campaign spin. They need something to talk about.
    The occupation will end when the time is right regardless of who is president. You think just because we leave the bad guys will quit? How naive can you be.
    Obama is a weak empty suit. Among other things.
    Who would take any thing Dean said seriously?
    McCain 08

    April 10, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  24. ALBO

    The representatives of HILLARY and she herself approved the penalties for FLORIDA and MICHIGAN,




    April 10, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  25. Ben

    Reverse psychology. Dean is hoping for a McCain-Romney ticket.

    April 10, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
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