March 6th, 2009
04:52 PM ET
12 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. The One

    Will Dean provide us with his patented scream every week?

    March 6, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  2. Shooky

    If President Obama names Dean Surgeon General, will he give out one of those awful screeches like Howard Dean does? I wonder how they would spell that out on his teleprompter....

    March 6, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  3. Rob

    And this would be a further indication of the complete idiocy that is this administration. This idiot, being the so called 'top doctor' of the land? Makes me miss Jocilyn Elders.

    March 6, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  4. Had It

    You weren't elected President. I wasn't either.

    Let the President make the decision. You "Monday Morning Quarterbacks" are tiresome.

    March 6, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. Doug

    Brilliant idea.

    March 6, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  6. globalgroove

    Sanjay Gupta is the best for this position....he's the bomb as far as I'm concerned.....

    March 6, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  7. lt

    works for me...the Democratic party's Rush Limbaugh. "Everybody who disagrees with me is wrong and everybody who thinks the same is ok.

    Way to go Obama...Change is on the way!!!

    March 6, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  8. Zav.

    Howard's a good guy, but for heaven's sake, he couldn't even make a decision when it came to the Super-delegates in the Dem. primary. Mr. dean can't make a decision on his own. How effective would this guy be?

    March 6, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  9. StevenB

    I don't know about this one. I certainly think he would be a far better choice than Gupta (WTH was that about?) but he does have a tendancy to stick his foot in his mouth and that's Mr Biden's job.

    March 6, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  10. Brian

    Better qualified candidates are still out there.

    March 6, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  11. Perusing-through


    I hope the Obama Administration lock him in for Surgeon General.

    March 6, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  12. lefty loosy

    Howard wooooooooo Dean.
    Hope his medicine is better than his demeanor.

    March 6, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  13. Paul

    You definitely got my vote, Dean.

    March 6, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  14. Paul

    You definitely got my vote, Dean.

    March 6, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  15. Shirley in California

    I personally like Mr. Dean and hope he gets the position.

    March 6, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  16. bill

    While I'm a strong supporter of the Obama administration, they should leave wackos like Howard Dean alone.

    March 6, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  17. Just shut up!

    Ridiculous! Is this man even a doctor?

    March 6, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  18. Just shut up!

    I mean a real doctor?

    March 6, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  19. Shane

    Surgeon general is a high-ranking position, I'm not sure Howard dean is a good choice. This is a man who can't make a decision on his own.

    March 6, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  20. Just shut up!

    Of course he is a socialist. Dang it America, we're probably going to get stuck with socialized healthcare. That stinks.

    March 6, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  21. Wesley J.

    Howard Dean given the position based solely on presiding over the Demo. Convention. Not a good reason.

    March 6, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  22. Peggy - TX

    Howard Dean deserves this position as he was quite effective and DNC chairman and he came close to winning the Pres nomination a few years ago.

    March 6, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  23. ahuge1ststep

    Oh Please not Howard Dean. His decisions during the election nearly split the democratic party in half. There are other qualified doctors out there. Let's let Howard Dean just go away.

    March 6, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  24. Dems be dopes

    GREAT! A nut job in charge of health.

    Better check his tax returns,,,,,,,,,,,,

    March 6, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  25. MK

    That would be a good choice, or Ron Paul. Forget politics in the choice, what is best for the country should be top priority. OOPS, forgot, no one can set aside politics and do what is best for the country right now.....silly me.

    March 6, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
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