CNN's 'Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees'
October 7, 2004
(Jump directly to the Howard Dean segment) . . .
COOPER: Well, tomorrow night's debate, of course, is between the president and John Kerry. But we wouldn't be surprised if Howard Dean shows up as well, not in person, but in rhetoric. That's what happened at Tuesday's debate, when Dick Cheney brought up Dr. Dean and a whole bunch of Republicans quickly followed suit.
Republican tongues wag about Howard Dean...
COOPER: Twenty-four minutes into Tuesday's debate, Dick Cheney resurrected Howard Dean.
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I couldn't figure out why that happened initially. And then I looked and figured out that what was happening was, Howard Dean was making major progress in the Democratic primaries.
COOPER: According to Cheney, the popularity of Dean's antiwar stance is why John Kerry and John Edwards voted against a bill providing additional funding for U.S. troops in Iraq.
CHENEY: Now, if they couldn't stand up to the pressures that Howard Dean represented, how can we expect them to stand up to al Qaeda?
COOPER: Now, it might have just been a spontaneous discourse on Dean. But judging from what happened in the spin room later that night, sure sounds like a lot of Republicans are reading from the same notebook.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you can't stand up to Howard Dean, how can you stand up to the terrorists?
MARY MATALIN, BUSH CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: He was very much for the, sending the troops in there, very much thought Saddam was a threat, until Howard Dean was getting at the antiwar vote. So, you know, as he makes the right point.
COOPER: If political types repeat something enough, pretty soon us journalist types will repeat it as well.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: One of the toughest lines of tonight, 'if he can't stand up to Howard Dean...'
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The most effective line from the Bush-Cheney standpoint is, 'if you can't stand up to Howard Dean...'
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Boy, some of the punches, you saw them coming when he said that, you know, 'If you can't (stand) up to pressure from Howard Dean...'
COOPER: And hey, if a line works, why not stick with it? Dick Cheney's wife sure seems to be.
LYNNE CHENEY: Dick's best line was this one. He said, 'You know, if these guys can't stand up to Howard Dean, how can we expect them to stand up to Osama bin Laden?'
COOPER: We're not sure how long Dean will be on the tip of Republicans' tongues, but for now, at least, sure seems like Dean deja vu all over again.
Interview with Howard Dean himself
COOPER: And joining me from Pittsburgh, former Vermont governor and former presidential candidate Howard Dean, also now an author. He has a new book, "You Have the Power: How to Back the Country and Restore Democracy in America."
Dr. Dean, thanks for joining us.
HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, thanks for having me out. I'm so flattered to be on all those guys' names, and I hope they'll keep talking about me when they go back to Texas and Wyoming (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
COOPER: Well, we'll see if that happens. You know, the, what they're saying, basically, about you is that John Kerry voted against the $87 billion allocation, so did John Edwards, because of the popularity of your antiwar stance. Think that's true?
DEAN: 'Course, the real reason -- no, I think the reason they did is the same reason I opposed it. You know, we support the troops. The problem is, the president didn't. The president didn't think it was high enough priority to help the troops out in order to pay for it. In other words, he's wanted -- he just put $87 billion on our kids' credit card.
This is the biggest-spending president in our history. We have the largest deficit in the history of the United States of America. I interpreted that courageous vote by John Kerry and John Edwards as a way to say to the president of the United States, You want to fund this war in Iraq, then pay for it. Get rid of those tax cuts you gave to all your millionaire friends. I was very proud of John Kerry and John Edwards for making that statement.
The president didn't care enough about the troops to take the tax cuts from his friends to pay for it.
COOPER: So you're saying if the funding allocation had been different, you would have suggested voting for it, or John Kerry should would have been.
DEAN: I did suggest voting for it. And it's on tape in some of the Iowa debates. And John Kerry said exactly the same thing. This president didn't have the courage and the guts to fund those troops the way they deserved to be funded. And I didn't see why John Kerry and John Edwards should make that vote if the president of the United States wasn't willing to.
COOPER: Today the president said that America is safer with Saddam Hussein in prison. Do you believe that?
DEAN: I never have believed that, and the American people don't believe it either. We've lost over 700 American men and women in our armed forces since Saddam Hussein was captured, because this president picked the wrong war at the wrong time.
What about Iraq -- I mean, excuse me, what about Iran, what about North Korea? President's allowed them to become nuclear powers while he dawdled around with Saddam Hussein, who was a tinhorn, third-rate dictator who today, we found out, never did have weapons of mass destruction.
COOPER: Well, now the line seems to be, though, that, you know, he still had perhaps the intent, still had sort of the information on how to perhaps build WMD, and could have given that information to terrorists.
DEAN: You know, the best line of the debate was John Kerry saying, 'Certainty and stubbornness is not a substitute for leadership.'
The truth is, arguing with the president reminds me of arguing with a 2-year-old. When one excuse falls apart, another excuse comes up. They just keep talking and talking and talking. They dig themselves further and further in. You know why this president's in trouble? This is not because we're in Iraq. The president's in trouble because he didn't tell the truth about why we're in Iraq, and he keeps trying to invent excuses. And the deep -- when you start out with something that's not based on fact and it's not based on truth, the more you say, the deeper the hole you dig. And that is why John Kerry is now emerging as the front-runner again.
COOPER: I want to show you something that you said on the David Letterman show just this week on Monday night. Let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN," CBS)
DEAN: You know, it's very interesting, we won't know for sure whether Iraq is going to become a stable place or not. If it becomes a stable place, George Bush will have been right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Do you stand by that? Do you think if Iraq does become a stable place, George Bush will have been right?
DEAN: Sure. But the problem is, unfortunately, and I regret this, it is not going to be a stable place. George Bush destabilized Iraq. He was instrumental in getting al Qaeda to arrive in Iraq. They were not there before we went. And I think he's made a colossal blunder, as John Kerry said. And I think we need a new president.
We cannot continue to have a president that runs huge deficits, costs us jobs, and doesn't tell us the truth when he sends our troops abroad. That is a failed presidency. This presidency is a failed presidency.
COOPER: Dr. Dean, always good to talk to you from Pittsburgh tonight, thanks very much.
DEAN: Thanks, Anderson.
Bush campaign manager bobs and weaves on the Dean question:
COOPER: Well, on 360, we cover all the angles, all the sides, so let's bring in Ken Mehlman, campaign manager for the Bush-Cheney team, joining us tonight from Arlington, Virginia.
Ken, thanks very much for being with us.
KEN MEHLMAN, BUSH CAMPAIGN ADVISER: How are you doing, Anderson?
COOPER: Good. I got to ask you, let me start off the same way we talked about with Dr. Dean. All of a sudden, you guys were talking a lot about Dr. Dean. Was there a memo that went out or something?
MEHLMAN: We should call him secretary of state Dean, since he's been the architect of the Kerry foreign policy the last few weeks.
COOPER: But seriously, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I mean, was there, is, I'm not a politico, I don't really know how this stuff works. Does, do, does, like, a memo go out saying, like, You know what? Today, everyone should talk about Dr. Dean?
MEHLMAN: I don't think a memo went out. I think that the reason the vice president brought up Dr. Dean was the fact that big transformation that occurred in Senator Kerry's foreign policy occurred not because of the result of changes in policy or changes in our defense situation, they resulted because (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Howard Dean was doing in Iowa.
Remember, John Kerry was asked on "Face the Nation," they asked him, they said, Will you support the supplemental funding for our troops regardless of how it is paid for? He said, Yes, it would irresponsible not to. Then Howard Dean started rising in the polls, and John Kerry did his first flip-flop. He said, I'm not going to support our troops because we're not going to raise taxes in order to pay for it.
This president believes when you're the commander in chief, no matter what, you always need to support our troops in an unqualified way. That's the first reason that the vice president brought up Howard Dean.
But that's not the only example. Look, in the PATRIOT Act, John Kerry was for it, then under pressure from Howard Dean, he ended up being against it.
MEHLMAN: The war in Iraq, he was for it, pressure from Howard Dean, ended up against it. That's why Howard Dean has probably had more influence on the John Kerry position in this war and in the war on terror than almost anybody else.