Buchanan & Press
Philadelphia, PA, Monday, September 1, 2003
GUESTS: Paul Lauer; Simon Jacobson; Howard Dean; Doris Kearns Goodwin; Carson Kressley; Thom Filicia; Ted Allen; Kyan Douglas; Jai Rodriguez
Best of BUCHANAN & PRESS.
PRESS: Welcome back to “BUCHANAN & PRESS”. Governor Howard Dean is fast becoming the Democrat to beat in the battle for the White House, but the former Vermont governor has been plagued by criticism that he is just too liberal to beat George Bush. A little while ago I had a chance to sit down with Governor Dean in Philadelphia, and I asked him if his critics have it right.
HOWARD DEAN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's mostly put out by people who are afraid I'm going to win because they're not. The fact is, I balance budgets. I believe in health insurance for every single American. I'm not a big gun control person because I come from a very rural state. I would say I'm a centrist. I believe in gay rights because I believe every American ought to have the same rights as everybody else. So you will have to decide whether I'm a conservative or liberal or a moderate. I think I'm a centrist.
PRESS: What does it say to you when Joe Lieberman gets up at the National Press Club and makes a speech, and without mentioning you by name, really says that you are—and I have used his words—a ticket to nowhere.
DEAN: Joe is a great guy. Joe wants to be president of the United States, and one of the problems with our party is people will say anything to get to be president of the United States, and that's an example of it. You know, I—I truly believe that it's possible that I'm the only person that can beat the president. Obviously that's totally self-serving, but what's it going to take to beat President Bush?
It's going to take somebody who can excite our base again, who gives people a reason to vote, and then will go out and recruit people who haven't voted for 10 or 15 years. That's who is supporting our campaign, and that's why I think we are going to win.
PRESS: OK. But, here is the rap on Howard Dean. You do a good effort. You win in Iowa. You do another good effort in your neighboring state of New Hampshire. You win in New Hampshire. And then you fizzle because you don't have the nationwide organization ...
DEAN: I'll tell you something right now ...
PRESS: ... You don't have the strength to really compete in those great big primaries.
DEAN: ... we're going to win Texas and we are going to win in California. We may win in Oklahoma. We're probably going to win New Mexico, because we have an organization down there. Nobody else does.
PRESS: Do you have—will you have the money and the organization to compete in all the big national primaries?
DEAN: Bill, we raised more money in the last quarter than anybody else raised. What's going—you know, I understand why these people are saying this, but people will say anything to become president of the United States. That's what the matter with the Democrats is. If you are willing to say anything to get elected, Americans can see right through that and they're not going to elect you.
Every time somebody says is he too liberal to win, we raise more money and our numbers go up. Why do you think that is? It's because what people want is somebody who is going to call it the way they see it. I have a record on guns that is not in favor of a lot of gun control, although I support the Brady Bill and the assault weapons ban and all that stuff.
I have a record of balancing the budget. I have a record of equal rights for gay and lesbian people. I believe what I believe. People know where I stand, and I really don't worry very much about where the polls are. That's what differentiates me from all the other Democrats.
PRESS: Do you think President Bush misled the American people in making the case for the war in Iraq?
DEAN: Yes, I do. I believe he said four things that weren't true. One, that the Iraqis were purchasing uranium from Niger. Two, that the Iraqis had a relationship with al Qaeda. Three, that—which the vice president said that they were about to get the—get atomic weapons, and—I have forgotten what the fourth one was ...
PRESS: Four, the Osama bin Laden connection.
DEAN: Oh, yes. The Osama bin laden—well, that already I talked about, the al Qaeda. The fourth was Secretary Rumsfeld's statement that he knew exactly where the weapons were. I actually expected that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, but we had control of Iraq for 12 years with no-fly zones. We controlled the soviet union for 50 years.
I think it was a mistake to go into Iraq in the long run. Now that we're there, we're stuck there and the administration has no plan for how to deal with it, and we cannot leave because losing the peace is not an option. We cannot leave Iraq. The president never thought about that when we were getting into Iraq.
PRESS: You are the only governor in the country who OK'd—not gay marriage, but civil unions ...
PRESS: ... for gays. Doesn't that make you too far out in front on this issue to lead the party?
DEAN: Most people in America believe that everybody ought to have equal rights. All civil unions does is say that gay people can have exactly the same rights I do. Hospital visitation, insurance, inheritance rights, job discrimination, taxes. It says, marriage is between a man and woman, but that gay and lesbian people deserve exactly the same rights as everybody else. I don't think that's too far out for the American people.
PRESS: Gay marriage, yes or no?
DEAN: Gay marriage—we don't have gay marriage, and it's not the federal government's business to impose gay marriage, but it is federal government's business to make sure everybody has equal rights under the law.
PRESS: How about couples that are married in Canada—come to this country?
DEAN: As president, what I would do is recognize their rights the same as civil union rights or any other state's domestic partnership rights. Equal rights under the law, but the federal government is not in the business of deciding who is married and who is not. That's up to the states.
PRESS: I guess I lied because I can't let you go without asking you about the recall in California. I mean, this is a process as governor, I don't think you ever faced.
PRESS: Is it a fair process, and do you think ...
DEAN: No, it's a ridiculous process.
PRESS: .... Arnold Schwarzenegger—do you think Schwarzenegger is the next governor?
DEAN: No, I don't think so. I think, first, the people of California are going to think very carefully before they decide to let the Republicans take another election by nefarious means. So, we'll see what happens with the recall election. I think Gray may well survive. If he doesn't, I hope and I believe that the Californians—the Californians will make Cruz Bustamante the next governor.
PRESS: But not Arnold Schwarzenegger?
DEAN: I don't think so. Look, Arnold is a very attractive guy but he has absolutely no experience whatsoever in politics. In the end with a $38 billion budget deficit, you'd better find a governor that knows how to deal with it. There are only two. One is Gray Davis. I think he will stay. If they don't pick Gray to stay, then I hope they'll pick Cruz.
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