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. Go Fogey Go

    Dean is a fantastic choice and I'm all for him!

    March 6, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  2. texas teacher

    Texas Teacher March 6th, 2009 6:59 pm ET
    Last Patriot… shut up… you make NO sense whatsoever!

    Texas Teacher:
    Dean? Just saying. Now I'll REALLY spit up in my mouth! Just saying.

    March 6, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  3. Buddy

    Did he pay his taxes? If not he will be a good pick.

    March 6, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  4. mike

    I think Bill Ayers, spokesman for the DNC, would be a better choice.

    March 6, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  5. Ca ligirl

    Dean will scold at Pres. Obama, for smoking during their idle time. lol

    March 6, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  6. Joe in NJ


    March 6, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  7. Daniel Mayinja

    Dean would serve us well as Surgeon General. Despite his quacks and shortfalls, the man's heart's in the right place. If Emmanuel is the one blocking his appointment or 'bad mouthing him': Shame on Rham for being such a small person! I respect Rham, but here and now he needs to chill and realize he doesn't have all the answers ... Besides, Dean has served the DNC pretty good. Go Barack, show Dean the post, Rham - just chill, you're already 'all that'.

    March 6, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  8. Melissa

    OH NO Not another extreme liberal! What a joke!

    March 6, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  9. annie - Palin 2012

    Don't the demmies get it – President Obama doesn't want Dean and he rules the roost or does he?

    March 6, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  10. Franky

    Ohh yeah, right? Dr. G(Which I call your guys doctor) is out. You know, I don't blame him. To tell you the truth, I think I even said that I hope he does what's best for him. Plus, right now in Washington, there's a lot of stock right now...good and bad, either way.

    And in my opinion, let the Big Boys(and ladies, sorry) take care of this. They've been in this game an awfully long time...

    March 6, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  11. annie - Palin 2012

    And what does this unneeded position do? Oh, that's right just another way to bilk taxpayers out of their money for a position that does nothing by people who know nothing but to take a large salary (and kickbacks) for doing nothing!

    March 6, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  12. Alicia

    I hope Howard Dean is. I think Howard Dean would make a superb Surgeon General, if he does the same job he did for the Democratic party.

    March 6, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  13. Keri Kell

    Really? All these unsubstantiated lobs at Dean?

    -"probably has more skeletons . . " Um, no. He's been vetted for Gov, a Pres Run and as DNC Chair. What is he hiding?

    -"the scream" -So what? Not sure this matters at all. I'll take someone who is critically minded and can get people motivated (as he did during his run and as DNC Chair) over some boring Cheneyfolk any day.

    -"hates gay people" – um how is that again?

    -" a bum and not all that stable" how? really? argue the point on his issues but how is this man a bum? He has a loving marriage, a successful record of public service, did what his party asked him to do when they needed him to do it, etc.

    – "a disgraced red neck who couldn't bring his party together." Well, actually, he did just that. Delivering a major Congresional election and the Presidency using a strategy dismissed by the usual suspects. Again, what are you talking about?

    Let's have some real info instead of these weird lobs.

    And I loved the scream. Have you seen the whole clip! He's fired up and ready to go. Excited about trying to make things better. We could have had someone like him in the White House and not the man even most Republicans turned against for his pre-emptive war mongering (Iraq), open door policy for war and energy profiteers (Halliburton, Enron and energy folks writing his energy policy), and astoundingly inept handling of the economy (read the papers, check your retirement account if you have one.

    March 6, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  14. Leave Sarah alone, CA

    Shame on them for pushing Dr. Sanjay Gupta out!

    March 6, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  15. Papa

    Are you kidding me? Is this a joke?

    March 6, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  16. td

    Oh Good, a "yes" man...Dean would actually be a good fit with the Camelot Clowns & Cheats.

    March 6, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  17. Unshrub

    The Last Patriot:

    Remove the job of the Surgeon General! Are you for real? Maybe you should actually find out what the position really is all about.

    March 6, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  18. yen

    I think H.Dean is a great pick.

    March 6, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  19. ranjit

    Hey Texas teacher, we will be very happy to let you run all the nominations for Obama. Wow, what a superb job he has been doing with it. Sure, in every century, people are smart to understand the mistakes they make and you will see it in the coming elections. Howard Dean, will be a very good spokesman and we cannot wait for him to become the Surgeon

    March 6, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  20. R in Maine

    Dean?! No way. Get someone we can respect.

    March 6, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  21. Charlie in Maine

    The Doctor is in. He did a great job of restoring the backbone to my party. I think he would be great.

    Obama has been very reasonable with his cabinet choices. We should have at least one Secretary who makes the right wingers feel the way Rumsfeld made me feel.

    March 6, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  22. Debby

    Maybe Obama should ask Deans patients if he is up to the job.

    March 6, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  23. Truth Bomb Thrower


    IS THIS A BAD JOKE?!!!!!

    March 6, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  24. Max

    It's good to see the collective IQ and memory spans of people who post on this site – so low... Why don't you do some research on the internet about what happened with the scream and how the Repub and Dem smear machines couldn't find a thing on this guy and how Republicans thought he was a good governor. What does it matter if he hates gay people if he believes and acted on giving equal rights to them? Yes, let the 'ignoramus' go back to New Hampshire – oh wait, he's from VERMONT.

    March 6, 2009 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  25. joe baxter

    @Texas Teacher
    you keep posting about the overwhelming vote for obama, he received 53% of the vote. let me explain, that means 47% did not, not really overwhelming, you might choose another word or just stick to majority.
    your seem to be a microcosm of what is wrong today in America, misinformed on so many levels.

    March 6, 2009 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
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