Interview on CBS 60 Minutes II
with Dan Rather, Wednesday, October 22, 2003
ANCHORS: DAN RATHER
DAN RATHER, co-host:
He's a doctor, a medical doctor, who wants to be president. And much to everybody's surprise, Howard Dean has jumped to the head of the Democratic pack. Dr. Dean is more often called Governor Dean. He was governor of Vermont for five terms. So how does a former governor from a small New England state become a front-runner to take on the president? In large part, because he has positioned himself as diametrically opposed to President Bush.
(Footage of Dean)
RATHER: (Voiceover) We found that out for ourselves when we went to visit Howard Dean in his home state at his favorite diner, The Oasis...
Former Governor HOWARD DEAN: Good morning, everybody.
Unidentified Woman #1: Good morning.
(Footage of Dean and diners)
RATHER: (Voiceover) ...where he wanted to talk about the issue that jump-started his campaign: Iraq.
Dr. DEAN: I believe, as president, that you've got to be willing to send troops anywhere in the world to defend America. But I also believe, as president, you never send troops without telling the truth to the American people about why we're going there. And that is exactly what happened to us in Vietnam. We were—sent troops to Vietnam without understanding why we were there, and the American people weren't told the truth, and it was a disaster. And Iraq is going to become a disaster under this presidency.
(Footage of Dean and Rather)
RATHER: (Voiceover) That's tough criticism compared to his fellow Democrats, who have been more cautious in taking on the president while American soldiers are fighting overseas.
Unidentified Man #1: Governor Howard Dean!
(Footage of Dean at rally)
RATHER: (Voiceover) But Governor Dean has been consistent in his opposition to the war. This is what he said last March, before a single shot was fired at Saddam Hussein's forces.
Dr. DEAN: (From March) What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the president's unilateral intervention in Iraq. I'm Howard Dean, and I'm here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.
(Footage of Dean at rally)
RATHER: (Voiceover) But we wanted to know, if Howard Dean were president, what would he do now in Iraq?
Can we afford to leave? Can we afford to pull out? What would you do differently?
Dr. DEAN: You know, President Bush in his speech said that Iraq is now the central battleground against terror; that's true because he made it that way. And that's the bad part about this. But th—that fact that it has now become true means that we can't just pull out and leave Ir—the Iraqis to their own devices. We have to be there. Now Iraq—the presi—this president has turned Iraq into a potential security emergency. So we can't cut and run. We need foreign troops in Iraq.
(Footage of Bush and Cabinet members at press conference)
RATHER: (Voiceover) Governor Dean is also critical of the president for going to war without many US allies. He believes those allies have been alienated, and he would focus on restoring those relationships.
Dr. DEAN: This president does not understand that having high ideals and a moral purpose, where people admire this country, is an important part of our defense. You would be hard pressed to find a majority in too many countries around the world where people admire America after two and a half years of this presidency.
Crowd: (In unison) We want Dean! We want Dean!
(Footage of Dean at rally)
RATHER: (Voiceover) As American casualties keep rising in Iraq, Governor Dean's aggressively anti-war message has caught on.
Unidentified Woman #2: Howard! Howard!
RATHER: (Voiceover) We went along on a cross-country tour and saw thousands of people show up to hear him in state after state...
Unidentified Woman #3: You've got to win!
RATHER: (Voiceover) ...coast to coast.
Dr. DEAN: I know there's some overflow rooms as well, and I want to thank them...
Unidentified Man #2: We are...
Unidentified Woman #4: We are the overflow.
Dr. DEAN: Oh, you are the overflow. Oh, my Lord.
In order to have big, enormous tax cuts...
(Footage of Dean)
RATHER: (Voiceover) Everywhere he went, Howard Dean blasted away at President Bush, not just on Iraq but also about jobs and the economy and promising, if elected, to roll back the president's tax cuts, which Dean says favor the wealthy. His critics say that would amount to a tax hike.
Both your Democratic opponents and those in the Republican Party say, 'Look, Governor Dean's talking about tax increases for the middle class.'
Dr. DEAN: Dan, I think my—this is typical of my party's problem. I just laugh at these politicians from Washington that are promising everybody everything. 'Oh, tax cuts—you can have everything you want.' We can't have everything we want, and you're going to have a choice. We can have a balanced budget and jobs and prosperity. We can have health insurance and funding of special education, or we can have the president's tax cuts. But we can't have both.
(Footage of White House; Democratic debate; Dean headquarters)
RATHER: (Voiceover) The re-election forces of President Bush have tried to marginalize Howard Dean by calling him a 'liberal former governor of a small state.' His Democratic opponents say just the opposite; that he sometimes sounds more like a Republican than a Democrat, especially when it comes to balancing budgets. But no one is criticizing the fund-raising skills at Dean headquarters. It's hard to find anyone here above the age of 30, but these young people, many of them computer whizzes, have been invaluable. With their help, the campaign has made unprecedented use of the Internet and raised $25 million, much of it in small donations.
Unidentified Woman #5: Stare right into the second camera.
(Footage of Internet videotape of Dean)
RATHER: (Voiceover) In addition, the Dean campaign uses the Internet to show video of their rallies live all over the country.
Unidentified Woman #6: Let's get started, if we may.
(Footage of meeting; Web site)
RATHER: (Voiceover) And the campaign also benefits from the Internet because it is used to organize meetings, like this one in Mission Viejo, California. It's called a meet-up, a gathering of people curious to learn more about Dean on the first Wednesday of every month in cities and towns across America. This meet-up was in New York. Grass-roots Dean supporters, not the Dean campaign, organize and schedule these get-togethers on a Web site, a sort of electronic bulletin board called Meetup.com. To the envy of the other candidates, it's brought tens of thousands of new supporters to the Dean campaign.
Why didn't the other candidates get on this quickly? Why didn't they seize the same opportunity at the same time?
Mr. SCOTT HEIFERMAN: Well, it's kind of scary.
(Footage of Heiferman)
RATHER: (Voiceover) Meetup is the brainchild of Scott Heiferman.
Mr. HEIFERMAN: You got a campaign who really didn't have any infrastructure, really didn't have much money, and they didn't have an ability to set up offices in every town and offices in every state. And it was the people who told their friends and family and co-workers that there's this candidate that they like.
(Footage inside a bar; meet-up)
Mr. HEIFERMAN: (Voiceover) And they brought them to meet up, and the meet-ups started, you know, in the first month in five cities and then went to 100 cities the next month. And before you know it, Howard Dean meet-ups happened in 800--nearly 800 towns across America.
RATHER: (Voiceover) These informal meet-ups have become so important to the campaign that now the candidate himself sometimes crashes the party.
Dr. DEAN: This campaign's about you, not about me. This is about empowering people to take their country back from the right wing of the Republican Party.
(Footage of Dean speaking at meet-up)
RATHER: (Voiceover) Howard Dean seems to love the very public campaign spotlight, but he's very private about himself and his family life.
Oh, this is beautiful out here.
Dr. DEAN: Isn't this great?
RATHER: Where are we now?
Dr. DEAN: We are overlooking Lake Champlain. That is New York.
(Footage of Dean and Rather; lake)
RATHER: (Voiceover) So when we met him at the University of Vermont overlooking Lake Champlain, we told him we wanted to talk about his personal background.
You're never comfortable talking about yourself. First of all, why is that?
Dr. DEAN: I'm not terribly introspective. I really am—I'm really a pragmatist. I want action, I want results. Some of it's my medical training.
RATHER: We'll move on to other things, but before moving away, you were baptized a Catholic...
Dr. DEAN: Yes.
RATHER: ...raised basically as Episcopalian...
Dr. DEAN: Yup.
RATHER: ...married a woman of Jewish heritage.
Dr. DEAN: Mm-hmm.
RATHER: Your children are—are being raised Jewish, aren't they?
Dr. DEAN: Mm-hmm.
RATHER: But you are now a Congregationalist.
Dr. DEAN: What a journey.
(Vintage photos of Dean and family; Park Avenue; photo of Dean as a child)
RATHER: (Voiceover) That journey began in a wealthy Republican family. The governor's father, Big Howard as everyone called him, was a stockbroker who supported Barry Goldwater. Howard Dean grew up on Park Avenue and the exclusive oceanside community of East Hampton on Long Island.
Were you a close family?
Dr. DEAN: Very. My father was a very hard-working guy, but every Friday the rule was we all had family dinner, no matter what. There were no social engagements in the Dean household before 9:00 at night on a Friday. So we were close, and it was fun, too.
(Vintage photo of Dean)
RATHER: (Voiceover) But after Howard Dean went to Yale, he started to rebel against his father's brand of politics.
Dr. DEAN: The Vietnam protests and the civil rights movement were really in full swing, and that's actually how I ended up becoming a Democrat.
RATHER: Well, what else did you do to rebel? I mean, drink a lot? Chase the girls a lot?
Dr. DEAN: Well, you know, there's not much I agree with President Bush on, but one of the things I decided before this campaign started—that I was going to use his line of attack, was that my 'irresponsible youth was my irresponsible youth,' and I wasn't going to go into any detail about that.
RATHER: Well, I'm not going to ask for detail.
Dr. DEAN: Good 'cause you're not going to get any.
RATHER: But you stopped drinking at one point?
Dr. DEAN: I did. I quit drinking when I was about 31 or 2.
(Footage of Dean and crowd)
RATHER: (Voiceover) When he was still in his 20s, there was a family tragedy that changed Howard Dean's life forever, a tragedy he remembers every day by wearing a '60s-style leather belt, a belt that belonged to his brother, Charlie.
What is the belt? Why do you wear it?
Dr. DEAN: It's my brother's. I have a brother who was 24 years old. He was traveling in Laos with a friend, and he was captured by the Pathet Lao, which is the Laotian Communists, during the Vietnam War and held in captivity for three months and then executed.
RATHER: This was a younger brother.
Dr. DEAN: He was. He was 16 months younger than I.
(Vintage photo of Dean brothers)
RATHER: (Voiceover) When they were growing up, the brothers were close. That's Charlie on the left; Howard sitting next to him. Charlie was the politician in the family, and no one was surprised when he went to Indochina to see the effects of the Vietnam War.
Dr. DEAN: I've actually been to the site where his body—we believe his body is, and right now there's an excavation going on to see if they can find it.
RATHER: This changed your life how?
Dr. DEAN: It gave me a sense that you ought to live for the moment with people; that you really—you really need to tell people you love them if you love them. It was certainly the most awful thing that ever happened to our family. It was terrible for my parents; it was even worse for them than it was for us.
(Footage of Library of Columbia University; Albert Einstein College of Medicine; vintage photo of Dean and Steinberg)
RATHER: (Voiceover) At the time Howard Dean, without telling his parents, had started taking night classes at Columbia, so he could qualify for medical school. He was also working on Wall Street. After Charlie died he studied even harder and managed to get into the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. That's where he met his wife and future fellow doctor, Judith Steinberg.
Can we talk about your marriage? Tell me about your wife.
Dr. DEAN: She's great. She's a very bright woman, and we used to do the crossword puzzle in the back of the neuroanatomy class, which was the most frightening class for any young student—medical student. And the passing was 34; I got a 35, and she got a 99 on the test, which tells you our relative brain scale.
(Footage of Dean, Steinberg and girl)
RATHER: (Voiceover) Dr. Judith Steinberg is not only smart but also very independent. She was there when her husband announced he was running for president, but she does not campaign for him.
Should she become the first lady of the United States, would she give up her medical practice?
Dr. DEAN: No, she will not give up her medical practice if she becomes first lady. She will entertain at some state dinners and things like that, but that's not going to be her life. Her life is going to continue to be medicine.
(Photo of Dean and Steinberg; Clark at speaking engagement)
RATHER: (Voiceover) Eventually, Howard Dean says, his wife will campaign for him. In the meantime, he has some important decisions to make. The most immediate: how to deal with the instant candidacy of General Wesley Clark. There's a lot of speculation the Democratic establishment, including the Clintons, support Clark to slow down Dean or hold a place, be a stalking horse for Hillary Clinton.
Let's talk about former President Bill Clinton.
(Photo of Clinton, Dean and diner's cook)
RATHER: (Voiceover) I noticed in the diner that there's a picture of you with—when he was president.
What happened to you and Bill Clinton?
Dr. DEAN: I don't think anything bad happened to me and Bill Clinton. I—we seem to get along reasonably well.
RATHER: But he's not supporting you in this race.
Dr. DEAN: Well, he's not supporting anybody in this race.
RATHER: You don't think he's supporting Wesley Clark?
Dr. DEAN: I don't, but I—I don't know. I haven't asked him about it. And I—I do not believe that Wes Clark is a stalking horse for the Clintons. And they've basically—Hillary basically told me she wasn't going to run. And Bill Clinton told me that he was not necessarily supporting any particular candidate and he wasn't going to be doing that.
RATHER: You believe that?
Dr. DEAN: Yes.
RATHER: You must have people on your staff who say to you, 'Governor, if you believe that, you believe water runs uphill.'
(Footage of Dean; Clark; Dean rally)
RATHER: (Voiceover) He may laugh about it, but he knows a lot of people think General Clark just looks presidential. Governor Dean's job, in the months ahead...
Unidentified Woman #7: Woo-hoo!
RATHER: (Voiceover) ...is to convince people he's up to the job.
What makes you think even a five-time governor in a state with three electoral votes and only one area code can produce a president to represent a big continental country, diverse country, such as ours?
Dr. DEAN: What people look for when they elect a president is values and strength. I was able to figure out that the president wasn't being candid with the American people on the Iraq issue long before any of my compatriots who are running in this race were able to figure it out. If I can figure that out, I can be president of the United States.
Copyright 2003 Burrelle's Information Services CBS News Transcripts