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. Sue

    Throw a dog a bone, and put Bill Frist in there. At least he is an actual MD.

    March 6, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  2. Debra from Georgia

    YES, YES, YES, Howard Dean Please

    March 6, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  3. Check Yourself

    Heeeyaaa!!!! Heeeyaaa!!! Howard Dean for sturgeon general...

    March 6, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  4. Debra from Georgia

    Howard Dean is the Man

    March 6, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  5. David

    Why don't they select a guy fresh out of medical school. That person can't be any worse.

    March 6, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  6. C W

    Jon in CA: There's a difference between choosing qualified people with needed expertise and experience who happened to have served in government in the past, and cronies, like "Heckuva Job, Brownie," who get jobs simply because they know someone.

    If the person's qualified, I say nominate them!

    March 6, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  7. arithmetic is liberal

    Jon in CA –

    So you're basically telling us that all you know about Hoard Dean amounts to a half second scream 4 years ago?

    Way to stay current.

    March 6, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  8. MZ


    March 6, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  9. Kansas Veteran

    Give me a break, Howard Dean...........we need leadrship not a clown. I normally support the President, but this is nad counsel on the behalf of his staff. I would rather see the position go vacant than Howard Dean.

    March 6, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  10. Art

    Wrong choice. He might start yelling at us.

    March 6, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  11. montag

    Howard Dean would make an excellent Surgeon General. And by the way, Last Patriot, Dean is from Vermont – not New Hampshire.

    March 6, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  12. conservative

    We will have a howling good time with old Dean! Soap opera deluxe !

    March 6, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  13. EVOLVE


    March 6, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  14. Cynthia

    If he wants it give it to him he's worked hard for the Dems.

    March 6, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  15. CNN Why are you afraid to publish what I post?

    So this is the change we've heard so much about?

    March 6, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  16. Little too late????

    Push him to every state in the union. He can recite them by heart!! AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 6, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  17. CP in Houston

    Good grief – just what this country needs a man who hasn't practiced medicine in years to be the Surgeon General. I think there are many others much more qualified than this screaming ninny.

    March 6, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  18. Dakota Al

    HOWARD DEAN???!!! What the hell! How about Jimmy Dean????

    March 6, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  19. yes, he should be the atty gen.

    this is a very good appointment

    he is a very good man and can get the job done the U.S. needs

    March 6, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  20. Hank T

    Dear Republicans, You were in power for the most part for the past 14 years (congress and-or the white house) you have lost big time and WE REALLY DON'T CARE WHAT YOU THINK !!! Personally, I hope you keep complaining and obstructing so I can sell my:
    70-30 & 300-135 in 2010
    bumper stickers. Keep it up guys... and watch what happens.

    March 6, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  21. Bill

    Soemthing about Howard Dean as Surgeon General would remind me of Dr. Nick on The Simpsons, proud graduate of West Hollywood Upstairs Medical College.

    March 6, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  22. Mormon who voted for Obama


    Howard Dean is an idiot.

    The inevitable is coming, and the true colors of liberalism will show through. This needed to happen so our country could actually recognize the talent that needs to be put in the white house.

    March 6, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  23. Frank, Las Vegas

    I'm not sure if Dean is a good choice or not, but he is a doctor.

    March 6, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  24. Darryl MIller

    Not no, but H No!,,,Please put a Doctor or a Professor of medicine...

    March 6, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  25. Ed R

    Actually, it's a good spot for Dean. Obviously challenged by anything requiring critical thought, all he has to do is demonstrate putting a condom over a cucumber a thousand times a year. He should be able to do that without screwing up.

    March 6, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
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