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. Genevieve

    Now if we could just talk Sen. McCain into choosing Mr. Romney as his VP! 🙂 We have Sen. McCain with all of his congressional experience and Mr. Romney with his gubernatorial experience as well as economic. And remember folks, Mr. Romney pulls those questionable western states, is not a career politician, and really helped Colorado out of a mess with the Winter Olympics.
    I don't think Sen. McCain should hold back on considering him, even tho the ultra conservatives do not like Mr. Romney because he is more of a liberal Republican/moderate Democrat. Sen. McCain would appeal more to the independents and of course to the following of the Democratic candidate who isn't nominated. And I seriously doubt the conservatives will sit out this election and watch a far left liberal take the election. My bet is they are just blowing smoke ...
    So Chairman Dean still might have a chance to display his fear!

    April 10, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  2. J

    Wow until all the mud slinging stops this country is getting nowhere. It takes both Republicans and Democrats to make this system work. Both of the parties, at their core have valid and much needed ideals. It takes both sets to make any progress, it takes both to communicate with eachother to move forward. All this does is further divide and in the end it hurts the American people.

    Each candidate has good things and bad things about them, what each person must do is ACTUALLY RESEARCH their choice of candidate (not take the media (yellow journalism) at face value) and vote for the one that best fits what they agree with. Stop already with anger towards eachother for simply choosing one candidate over the other, we can agree to disagree. Stop with the name calling and ridiculous (yes I have read some totally ridiculous and down right rude comments on here) statements towards eachother and instead try to view things from others perspective and inform not rip apart.

    April 10, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  3. BG - Texas

    Now here is an even better 'dream ticket' with a real American Hero and Patriot with years of REAL experience and an ex-governor with REAL business sense (not to mention more money that he actually earned than the Clintons and Obamas put together).

    I like this and hope for America's sake that they are elected.

    God Bless/Help America!

    April 10, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  4. Patrick

    Howard Dean is a hate mongerer. I doubt any person could honestly read the things Dean has said and still support him. I will not vote for a single democrat in any election until he resigns as head of the DNC.

    April 10, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  5. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    Why fear Romney, Obama is going to have to accept public financing otherwise McCain will hammer him on his pledge to take public financing if the Republican candidate will. Obama will be between a rock and a hard place, either Obama will be the bringer of doing business a new way in Wahington as he claims or he will just be another run of the mill politician.
    So there goes Obama's ability to raise vast amounts of money.

    April 10, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  6. John

    Howard Dean should show respect to all presidential contenders.That includes McCain.Not the type of division we have right now between Hillary and Obama.Stop underatting the republicans and demcrats as well.Your predictions or fear thereof Mitt Romney were wrong.Alesson for you for sure.

    April 10, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  7. kelly WI

    Yes, thats right. Obama wants you to murder your babies so they aren't an inconvience. More babies killed than service people protecting this country.
    It was the congress who voted for the war and are funding it. Don't forget that little tid bit.
    Stay in there Dean. You are the top dem . After all they appointed you that job and you are the reflection of them all.

    April 10, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  8. Tom,des moines

    Brian in Tampa.
    Do u expect people in MI and FL to vote for Hussein Obama in the NOV. election. After his failure to have a revote. I think not. There is no rules that prevent us the democrat to have a revote in MI and FL. I think I know why? Because Hussein Obama will lose big both MI and FL. Again for any candidate to win the presidency they have to win most if not all of these states like MI,OH,PA and FL in order to get 270 electoral vote.

    April 10, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  9. Susie

    Howard Dean is an idiot. He and the DNC have ensured that the next President will not be a Democrat.

    April 10, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  10. Willy

    Dean should fear himself when he open his piehole

    April 10, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  11. Woland


    April 10, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  12. BJ, Boston

    I don't fear any of them because Barack is going to win.

    Bring it on, GOP.

    Obama 08

    April 10, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  13. Jared C

    howard dean.. ur officially a ridiculous jerkoff

    April 10, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  14. Tom,des moines

    If the democrat party have a winner take? Hillary will be way ahead of the delegate counts and if you include MI and FL primary. Hillary have more then enough 2025 delegate to secure the nomination already. What do u think about that Hussein Obama supporter?

    April 10, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  15. Frosty

    Dean's right. It would have been much more difficult for the democrats to match up with Romney. Romney is much younger, more articulate, more conservative, not to mention much more good looking. McCain is not even well liked by the republicans. Dean is correct but may be he shouldn't have said it before McCain chooses his VP. I don't know if he's playing psychological games with McCain's campaign. After all he is a doctor, right?

    April 10, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  16. gerard morei

    This is Hillary's election, Obama supporters do not ask anymore to Hillary to drop out, she will not stop because she have millions of supporters like me that want her to win this nomination, SO STOP!!!!

    April 10, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  17. ALBO


    I understand that you want to say that ROMNEY is attractive to Conservatives, but not for the Ultra-Conservatives for which anyone
    who is not a ultra-right extremist is a liberal !!

    So, this would be a good combination, but need to be evaluated in
    front of a HUCKABEE alternative, with some less economic, even if
    enough, economic knowledge, but with much more personal attraction!!

    And of course, another alternative to be tested is with CONDOLEZZA
    RICE, which is very FEARED BY THE DEMOCRATS, as the coordinated attacks and insults by their surrogates clearly show !!

    She will attract an (even important) minority of the Black Vote, especially of the well to do voters which do not like OBAMA leftist
    perception, and certainly a part of the women voters generally, which
    have lost their ICON with Hillary's defeat. The first polls in NY, even if
    clearly not definitive, seem to show this !


    April 10, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  18. Toni

    Wrong though it may be - I can't imagine Romney on anybody's VP list until all the attention to the FLDS polygamy headlines fade. I certainly don't imagine Romney has 20 wives stuck somewhere in Utah, but 10% of our enlightened voting population think Obama is a Muslim - go figure!

    April 10, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  19. Barb Canada

    The problem with Florida and Michigan is... In a race this close, and with so many people emotionally raw from the frustration of the last election.......EVERYONE wants their vote to count!! Imagine if you would, that you are a HUGE Obama supporter, yet due to bad politics, your vote doesn't count. Obama had a chance to vote on a re-vote (at least he was able to vote on it), and he SAID NO! Enough said!

    April 10, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  20. Liberatarian

    Romney? C'mon Howard, who's kidding who? Romney had the full support of the Republican right wing and the vast majority of Republican money stakeholders and lost to a guy who was reduced to carrying his own bags through the airports just last summer and couldn't raise another dollar. A funny thing happened on the way to convention, though, the voters spoke up. And, no, they're not all crossovers as most of the primaries were closed – not open.

    I say DO NOT underestimate McCain. He is formiddable. He can control the center and the center is where the election will actually swing (much to the chagrin of both liberal and conservative true believers). He survived years of North Vietnamese torture and has survived a primary campaign where he was AT BEST the Republican party elite's #3 choice (and perhaps lower) and had everything stacked against him – including the entire Bush/Cheney machine.

    Of note in yesterday's ticker – a McCain-Condy Rice ticket would beat ALL possible Dem combinations. Including the Obama-Hillary so-called "dream ticket." And that includes in New York – the bluest of blue states. Chew on that for a while. I say again, DO NOT underestimate Sen McCain. (For the record – I'm an Obama guy).

    April 10, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  21. Think for Yourselves

    After reading these comments, I come away thinking that people really need to think for themselves, and stop being sheep about Howard Dean. It was Florida and Michigan that knowingly and willingly messed up their own primary chances, and now the fathead politicians from those states are pointing the finger at Howard Dean because they fear taking the blame from their constituents for their own bone-headed actions. Hillary Clinton is only stirring the pot because she has something potentially to gain. Just keep in mind, while she's whipped everyone into a frenzy about the people's voices not being heard in those states, her camp at the same time is arguing that super delegates should over-turn the will of the people.

    April 10, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  22. Toni

    Dear Kelly – think you're incorrect about the unemployment rates under Clinton vs Bush: 5.5% under Clinton; 5.6% under Bush so far. Do things look up to you??

    April 10, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  23. dave

    Dean is the most hated and feared person from republicans. He was the one responsible for Dems' 2006 victory.

    April 10, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  24. Tom

    enough with the Dean bashing!!!

    its the state chairs of the MI & FL Dem party that messed it up for their own states. Dean simply told them that the party has rules & there are consequences for not following the rules.

    in the end, someway, somehow, MI & FL will get their delegates to Denver & the party will rally around its nominee, the Dems will defeat McCain & we will be rid of the Bushes forever – can't happen soon enough.

    Dem Unity 08

    April 10, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  25. Joe

    Romney should debate Pastor Hagge regarding religious cults in America. Bil Maher can be the moderator if you will.

    April 10, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
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