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. Dittohead

    does the hypocratic oath apply to Republicans Dr. Dean?

    March 6, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  2. Seattleite

    Its a GO Howard Dean.

    March 6, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  3. Brad of IL.

    A disgraced red -neck who couldn't bring this party together ( Democrats) and you want too give him a job. We have a President who is a JOKE and know we want too put this idiot into Health care reform, HA HA . Why not get some one off the street like we did for President and really ruin this country. do it right. I'm sure Obama has a druggie friend who could use a job.

    March 6, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  4. cheryl brooks from cali

    I hope he gets it... he is a hard working man.

    March 6, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  5. Bill

    Terrific Choice. Howard Dean would totally rock !!

    March 6, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  6. The Last Patriot

    My nomination: Remove the position and return the salary to the US Taxpayer. Do we really need to pay for Howard Dean to scold us about the evils of smoking? Let's have this insufferable gas-bag retire in ignomy to New Hampshire.

    March 6, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  7. Michael Whitehead

    My first impression is that this is too little actual responsibility for someone of Gov. Dean's abilities. If he wants the job, more power to him. But I'd rather he stick with his plan to go back to DFA and comment unrestrictively on Health Care reform.

    March 6, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  8. ray ray

    Wait... isn't this the same guy who created a fustercluck because he couldn't lead the DNC???

    And Obama wants to hoist him on America as the Surgeon General???

    March 6, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  9. pete

    He's an artery popping kind of guy, so he'd be good for the job, like tax cheat Geithner is good for the head tax job.

    March 6, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  10. C Spurgeon

    I think Dean would be a good choice, very well qualified and this cabinet needs to get settled.

    March 6, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  11. Willy Brown

    Sure why not have this bufoon as the nation's finger waiver...

    March 6, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  12. dickster

    Howard Dean is a fine American and we Vermonters are proud of him. President Obama owes him and he should appoint Gov. Dean, MD to the office of Surgeon General

    March 6, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  13. Curt


    March 6, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  14. AM, NJ

    Dean deserves that job!!

    March 6, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  15. Gorbashov - Long Beach, Ca.

    HELL YES!!!

    Why it took so long to come to this conclusion I don't know.

    March 6, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  16. deaniac83

    Of course Howard Dean should be Surgeon General. Dean is fully qualified, no-nonsense manager, and unabashed advocate for patients. It's a no brainer.

    March 6, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  17. albo58

    Hey you kids, quit smoking YYYY-EEEEE-AAA-A-HHHHHHhhh!!!

    March 6, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  18. jenn

    Dean would not be a good choice for Surgeon General because he is a polarizing political figure, and is better known for being the chairman of the DNC than he is for being a physician. The Surgeon General is a public education/public relations position, and it needs to be filled by someone who can have the trust of all the American people.

    I say this as a staunch Democrat, by the way.

    March 6, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  19. Texas Teacher

    Last Patriot... shut up... you make NO sense whatsoever! This is the 21st century... we are truly a LOT more intelligent. We don't need you to tell anyone how to run this government! We voted overwhelmingly for Obama... NOT you republicans! That says something.... right? Pffft... ignorance needs to be called what it is.... IGNORANCE! All those who think Rush Limbaugh is the voice of reason truly need to get a grip on reality... put away your white sheets and cone hats! Move on into 21st century.... join the majority of Americans!

    March 6, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |

    Not a bad choice at all.

    March 6, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  21. Benjamin Mokay

    Hum, go figure – Howard Dean on Obama performing a surgery – How about swapping his heart with bush? – An Obama Bush - God bless America..!!

    Ben Mokay

    March 6, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  22. seamus

    Yes, Jon in CA.
    This is change.
    No matter how much you dislike it...

    March 6, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  23. Jobless

    By promoting preventative health the Surgeon General can save Americans millions of dollars in unnecessary health care expenses.
    If you really want to be a Patriot you would understand that. As a trained physician and longtime advocate for improved public health policies, Dean is more than qualified for the post.

    March 6, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  24. tim moynihan

    This wack job will fit right in.

    March 6, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  25. ruth

    Jon in CA. GET A HOBBY –you are one sick bastard.

    March 6, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
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