March 6th, 2009
04:52 PM ET
14 years ago

Democrats pushing Dean for Surgeon General

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Two White House officials say it's possible Dean could be tapped for surgeon general post."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - With Dr. Sanjay Gupta taking himself out of the mix as President Obama's choice for Surgeon General, CNN has learned that the name of former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean has now emerged as a possible pick for the high-profile post.

Senior Democratic officials say that Dean, a medical doctor and former Vermont governor who championed health reform, has privately made clear that he is interested in the post. Dean had publicly expressed interest in serving as secretary of Health and Human Services but lost out, and many Democrats believe he was blocked because of a feud he had with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel back in the 2006 election cycle.

But two White House officials told CNN that while it's too early to compile an official list of candidates for Surgeon General, they believe that it's possible for Dean to get the job. "I would not dismiss it," one of the White House officials said of the possibility that Dean will be selected.

One Democratic strategist close to Dean made clear the former DNC chair would take the position if it is offered. "He'll do whatever the President would like him to do," said the strategist. "He's certainly well-suited and well-qualified for that job. It would certainly shut up a lot of Dean supporters."

But another source close to Dean said nobody at the White House has contacted him about the job and noted that the former governor has previously indicated he’s not interested in this particular position.

Supporters of Dean believe he should get some kind of reward for presiding over the Democratic party in which they scored major electoral gains in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles. But Dean famously clashed with Emanuel in 2006, who was serving as the chairman of the House Democrats' campaign arm at the time, over where to spend scarce campaign cash in the final days of the campaign in which Democrats ended up taking control of Congress.

People close to Dean and Emanuel, however, insist the two men have since patched up their differences and recently had lunch together. Those sources also noted that in recent months Emanuel reached out and offered Dean a lower-level health-related job in the administration that was turned down.

(Updated with additional information from source close to Dean)

Filed under: Howard Dean
soundoff (142 Responses)
  1. Cathy

    Hoawrd Dean hates gays??? He was the governor who signed Vt's Civil Union Law. Let's stick to facts, k?

    March 6, 2009 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  2. Expat American

    Dean should have a leadership role within the Party – Whether that role is as Surgeon General is up for debate.

    His 50 state-strategy proved to be vital this past election and undoubtedly for future success of the Party as well.

    But Mr. Chairman, please, no more Baltimora-esque "I Have a Scream" speeches – then again, even that was kind of cool if not ‘different’.

    March 6, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  3. Justin from New Haven, CT

    I wish he was the HHS Secretary but this is great.

    March 6, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  4. Ellen

    George Lundberg would be a better candidate

    March 6, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  5. Emma, San Jose

    Brad from Illinois. You are so negative. Do you think your words really make an impression?

    March 6, 2009 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  6. JK Ashburn, VA

    I think there's a typo in the headline - they actually said "sturgeon general". They want him to take care of rare fish and go away.

    March 6, 2009 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  7. just dallas

    @ brad in IL. your overreaching. your opinion is baseless and pulled out of thin air.and stop hatin on the President it's not becoming.

    March 6, 2009 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  8. Mc

    @Texas Teacher....why do you liberals keep bringing up Bush and Rush. They are non issues. The issue is getting this country going again and it's the people that will do it, not the government. Liberals are the ones that need to get a grip and just because you have a few degrees do make you smarter that anyone else. Stop looking down your nose!!!!!

    March 6, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  9. Gordon Shumway

    That's a terrific idea! Take a guy that needs a shrink real badly and put him in the medical driver's seat for socialized medicine. Wonderful move!!! Hope he paid his taxes............................

    March 6, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  10. Proud American

    I can't believe that Republican Idiots still judge this guy based on one poticial speech, where he raises his voice.

    March 6, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  11. Libs are Goofy....

    @ Texas Teacher....

    I pray, for the children in Texas, that you are not a teacher, but just use that as a screen name.

    March 6, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  12. Judy from PA

    How has the Democratic Party done since Howard Dean was in charge of the DNC??? He is personally responsible for 8 years of Bush.

    March 6, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  13. Jared

    I'm glad to see Dean in the running for something. His knowledge and abilities demand this admin's respect. He deserves to be running something.

    And as far as bad party chairs, just look at your own, Republicans. Dean definitely contributed to the Dems current majority.

    March 6, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  14. libertyville

    I don't like Dean, I don't like the idea of patronage, but I do believe he probably deserves it after the work he did for his party in the last election. . . . and he can't do too much damage there.

    March 6, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  15. Mel of Alexandria, Virginia

    Even now, some of us still want to play the game the same old way. It is so hard to teach old dogs new tricks. If we are serving for the good of the nation, we can work with folks who are not like us. If we cannot support one who has done so much for the party, how do we ever hope to create a working bipartisanship?

    March 6, 2009 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  16. Darren D.

    Dr. Dean U have my vote! Doc, Gov, and DNC Winner!

    March 6, 2009 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  17. DonnieJ

    Obama should instead appoint the doctor that provided those Oxycontin prescriptions to that fat, retarded right-wing radio show host.

    March 7, 2009 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
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