On the left, Howard Dean open to presidential bid
June 20th, 2013
04:39 PM ET
1 year ago

On the left, Howard Dean open to presidential bid

San Jose, California (CNN) - Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor who electrified anti-war liberals during the 2004 presidential race, said Thursday he would consider another run for the White House – a statement that will surely be met with mixed reaction in the Democratic Party.

Dean, whose underdog presidential campaign officially launched 10 years ago this weekend, said he has "mixed feelings" about running for office again but added he would consider another bid for the Democratic presidential nomination if he doesn't think the other candidates are adequately addressing progressive issues that are dear to his heart.

"I am not driven by my own ambition," Dean told CNN in an interview at the Netroots Nation conference, an annual gathering of left-leaning political activists. "What I am driven by is pushing the country in a direction that it desperately needs to be pushed; pushing other politicians who aren't quite as frank as I am who need to be more candid with the American people about what needs to happen. I am not trying to hedge, it's a hard job running. It's really tough. I am doing a lot of things I really enjoy. But you should never say never in this business."

Dean, the founder of Democracy for America, a progressive organization that lobbies for causes such as same-sex marriage and expanded access to health care, maintained that the prospect is unlikely. He is well liked and respected by liberals – hence his appearance at this week's conference, but is still viewed with a wary eye by many in the Democratic establishment because of his outspoken nature and frequent refusal to march in lockstep with national party leaders.

"If you had to put a gun to my head and make me decide right now, I wouldn't," said Dean, who became chairman of the Democratic National Committee after failing to win his party's nomination in 2004. "But who knows?"

He made clear, though, that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the undisputed frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, will not run unchallenged if she, too, decides to make a second White House run.

"She is not going to have a pass," Dean said. "There will be other people who will run."

He named New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley as two potential candidates he's keeping an eye on – though Gillibrand this week said she is "personally urging Secretary Clinton to run." And it is unclear if the politically astute O'Malley would take the risk of challenging Clinton.

As for his views on the recently disclosed sweeping surveillance programs, Dean said he was troubled less by the specifics of the program than by the fact that such sweeping efforts were kept hidden from public view.

"I am not horrified by the program," he said. "What I am horrified by is that we didn't know about it and that the Congress took a pass on it. All these congressmen scurrying about of the limelight pretending they didn't hear anything about it. They had plenty of chances to hear about it."

Dean called on the president to deliver a televised address to the nation about the scope of the surveillance.

"I think Obama has to talk to the American people about this," he said. "I think the public gets that we have to protect ourselves form terrorism, and they get that they probably have to sacrifice some personal liberties to protect them from terrorism, but they don't want to give up the idea that the people are in control of the government and not the other way around.

"The president should go on TV to explain that. 'Here is what we are doing. Here is why we are doing it. And here is why we believe it works, and we are happy to hear from you. We are going to have a public discussion about this,'" Dean said.


Filed under: Howard Dean
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Robert Schiele

    I'd like to see him go for it. He's a little bit further Left than I'm really comfortable with, but I'd vote for him a lot sooner than I'd consider voting for Hillary Clinton. At least Dean wouldn't get us involved in yet another war in the Middle East.

    June 20, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  2. Thomas Antel

    He would have been better then GW Bush .

    June 20, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    Damnit Dean, you're supposed to use the "speaking fist" not "jazz hands"!!!!! Someone get this man an oration coach!!!

    June 20, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  4. The Anon

    That would be awesome. Personally, is support Clinton over Dean, due to electability, but Howard Dean is a great leader who would make a good VP pick for Hillary, though it would probably go to a youngster who's Hispanic.

    June 20, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "He would have been better then GW Bush ."

    That's like saying something would taste better than feces.

    June 20, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  6. Not Impressed

    The bar is low when Hillary is the top candidate (again). We should trot out all of the left's has-beens. I hope John Edwards runs again. A Clinton-Dean-Edwards primary would be a hoot.

    June 20, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  7. Flagship, NC

    As a more mature Dean, I believe he has alot to offer. He might even win.
    But he better bring Hillary in as VP if he does.
    Hillary should seriously consider him as VP if she wins. (Unless it is Biden)
    He would be a serious contender.

    June 20, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. A Kickin` Donkey

    The country would benefit from a true leftward lurch to a liberal and I`d LOVE to see that as a counterbalance to the orchestrated GOP whinefest over the past 30+ years. [Despite the GOP`s talking points, Mr. Obama is no unabashed liberal]. Unfortunately, I don`t know if Dean is still radioactive. He`d make a good HHS secretary though.

    And Dean isn`t the VP the Democrats need on the ticket. I want to see some western states in play. I want to force the GOP to defend Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Montana, a Dakota. Howard Dean doesn`t help that cause.

    June 20, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  9. Sandy

    I'd vote for Dean over Hillary. I don't trust her not to get into any more wars.

    June 20, 2013 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  10. Pete

    Dean as VP would definitly compliment Hillary Clinton and he's more strong politically than Biden..Hillary is still president in 2016 no matter what and republicans even if Christie goes as republicans rep he'll have no chance against her with Pres.Obama ,husband Bill campaigning,raising money for her..Republicans you're doomed politically in 2016 no matter what scandals Issa drums up and you'll see how many republicans vote for her over Christie,especially women,your goose is cooked !!

    June 20, 2013 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  11. jan

    Howard Dean needs to run and win the democratic nomination, that would lead to a sure win for the other side, good thinking Howard

    June 20, 2013 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  12. Tom

    You've got to be kidding me. The guy is a legend "only in his own mind"!

    June 21, 2013 04:46 am at 4:46 am |
  13. Data Driven

    Well, gee, I guess we must forget about Dean because he made a funny noise once, but mostly because he doesn't march in lockstep with the Democratic establishment. I'd love a Dean candidacy, but they'll never permit it. And the Media would feed on him like vampires falling off a diet wagon to make sure he stays dead. So I won't get my hopes up.

    Meanwhile, PAY ATTENTION, liberals: "She is not going to have a pass," referring to Clinton. Thank you! Also, I share his hopes for a Gillibrand candidacy.

    June 21, 2013 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  14. Name Uche Agonsi

    The characteristics are Dynamism, Intellectualism , Oratory, Witticism , Peaceful, Diplomatic, Homeliness, not forgetting family responsibility.........in no particular order,,,,,,,etc.

    June 21, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |