The Capital Report
March 25, 2004
Howard Dean, Former Presidential Candidate: Well, first of all, you can't believe everything you read in kiss-and-tell articles, and so I don't think I'll comment on that. I think what I will say is this: John Kerry and I fought hard against each other for the nomination of this party; John Kerry won, fair and square. That means that if you wanna beat George Bush, you're gonna support John Kerry. The things that are similar about us far outweigh the things that are different. We both want health insurance for every American, we both want jobs back in this country, we both think half-trillion-dollar deficits are not the way to make America's economy stronger.
The thing that I think that is so important to the American people about John Kerry is, who would you trust with the defense of the United States of America? A group of people, not one of whom have ever served a day overseas in their life-- Dick Cheney, George Bush, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld-- or a guy with 3 Purple Hearts and a Silver Star for serving with valor in Viet Nam. I choose John Kerry, 'cause I think he'll protect this nation in a better way than George Bush will, and I think the events of the last few days, with Richard Clarke's testimony about the President's lack of interest in terrorism certainly underscores that point.
Borger: Well, let me ask you a little bit about those hearings and Richard Clarke's book, as well as his testimony. Did he convince you, perhaps, that the Bush Administration could have avoided 9-11?
Dean: I was appalled by the fact that this President was so obsessed with Iraq, just as I've been saying on the campaign trail, that he missed the fundamental nature of the danger that Al-Qaeda posed to American citizens, and 3000 people paid. Nobody has any idear of whether we could have avoided this or not. What we do know is the President of the United States ignored the advice of his own advisors, would not take advice from people who differed with his point of view, and 3000 Americans were killed.
Borger: Now, you also said recently, after the bombings in Madrid, that "the President was the one who dragged our troops to Iraq, which apparently has been a factor in the deaths of 200 Spaniards over the weekend."
[Cut to video footage of the bombed Spanish trains]
Borger's Voice: Does that mean that you hold Bush responsible in a way for those deaths?
Dean's Voice: Of course not. The terrorists were responsible for the deaths of 200 people. But the terrorists made it clear that Spain was a target because they participated in the war in Iraq.
[end video footage]
Borger: Well, let's get back to John Kerry for a moment, your endorsement of him. Because there are some people who say that it would be very difficult for your passionate supporters to support Kerry. In fact they would seem more likely to go over and support Ralph Nader. What do you say to your former supporters for the Presidency who are looking at Ralph Nader?
Dean: Ralph Nader is a distinguished American, who's served his country very well for 40 years.
[Video clips of Ralph Nader in various locales]
Dean's Voice: He has paved the way for consumerism, for a lot of the environmentalism. But a vote for Ralph Nader unfortunately has the effect of electing George Bush. I think Ralph is in a position of undoing his 40-year legacy, because if George Bush gets another 4 years, the last vestiges that are standing up for consumerism and the environment will be gone. This President, as you know, has the worst environmental record of any President...
[end video of Nader]
Dean: ...as long as the League of Conservation Voters has been keeping track of these matters.
So what I say to my people, or anybody who is thinking of voting for Ralph Nader-- he's a fine man, if you want 4 more years of George Bush. I don't think this country can afford that. We need jobs in this country, we need to pay our bills, we've gotta stop sending debts down to the next generation. We need a new President That President's gonna be John Kerry.
Borger: Did you ever ask Nader not to run?
Dean [pauses]: I won't comment on that. I keep my conversations with principals private as they should be, and so I'm not gonna make any comments about that.
Borger: Let's have a little bit about special interests. There's a huge fundraiser in Washington tonight for Kerry. There's a plan to raise $10 million in 10 days for John Kerry's candidacy. You have said during the campaign that Kerry was the candidate of special interests and he raised his money from the same special interests that support George W. Bush.
[video footage of Kerry campaign rally, then Dean campaign rally]
Borger's Voice: How can you make the case now that Kerry is better to talk about that issue, if you said once that he's the same as Bush on that issue?
Dean's Voice: Well, the truth is, it's all relative.
[end video of rallies]
Dean: What John Kerry did not do, is send us to Iraq and then have Halliburton get a no-bid contract, and abuse the Federal-- and have that company abuse the Federal government as they have by overcharging it. What John Kerry did not do is vote for a Medicare prescription bill which sent billions and billions -- hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to prescription co-- to drug companies and HMOs instead of to seniors.
So, you know, it's true that I'm the outside-the-Beltway, or I was the outside-the-Beltway candidate. But the fact of the matter is, this election's between John Kerry and George Bush. George Bush really has taken special interest money to a new high, particularly by giving taxpayers' money away to the people who support him. John Kerry could never be accused of having done that.
Borger: Obviously, we're all talking about John Kerry and his possible pick of a running mate. Would you take yourself out of that?
Dean: I, again, make no comment about that. I've certainly not been asked to be his running mate, and I doubt anybody has been asked to be the running mate. But I generally don't talk publicly about matters that I discuss with any of the principals, and I won't be discussing them now.
Borger: Okay, but let me just ask you generally, though, at-- do you think it would be better for Kerry to pick somebody who was sort of an outsider, somebody not inside the Washington establishment-- and people think that Kerry's pretty much a Washington establishment candidate, in a way.
Dean: Well, Gloria, I appreciate your second thought [Borger laughs], but I do not discuss matters that I discuss privately with principals in any (?), and I don't intend to discuss that.
Borger: Okay. Governor, I'm gonna talk to you again about this article that you call a "kiss and tell" article by Paul Maslin, because it was kind of interesting to me, because he did a bit of psychotherapy in it about you, and about your candidacy, and I just want to read to you something and get your comments on it. I don't know what your reaction will be, but he says, quote: "All of us involved in the Dean campaign made mistakes for sure. Our candidate's erratic judgement, loose tongue, and overall stubbornness wore our spirits down. He refused to be scripted, to be disciplined, or to discipline himself. I later likened it all to repeatedly tapping an egg against the edge of a kitchen counter. Eventually, the egg would break." [chuckling] Do you plead guilty as charged?
Dean: No, I don't, but I'm not gonna get into a dispute with staff. You know, this appeared in a gossip column in the Washington Post--
Borger: --But it is an article in the Atlantic Monthly, and I've read most of this today. And, it's gonna be--
Dean: -- I think generally, I think generally staffers who are sources to (?) after campaigns, should not have been staffers in the first place. And I don't intend to get into that game with refuting or confirming or denying or participating in that. I think those kinds of articles are unfortunate, they ought not to be written. But, this-- Paul chose to write it, and he'll have to speak for himself, 'cause I have no intention of commenting on it.
Borger: Do you have any intention of writing a book about your candidacy?
Dean: I am gonna write a book, but it probably won't be directly about the candidacy, it will probably be issues-oriented, although of course it'll be about the campaign as well.
Borger: Okay, Governor, can you tell us, aside from leading your group, Democracy for America, what's next for you?
Dean: Well, I'm gonna do everything I can to do three things. I want John Kerry to be the next President of the United States, I want a Democratic Congress... one of the things I'll be doing is campaigning in places around the country for the Congresspeople who supported us, and also for the people who have a chance of winning their contests.
But the main thing I want to do through Democracy For America, is to nourish the grassroots that nourished us. We want people to run for school board, we want people to run for Congress, we want people to run for County Commissioner, for City Council, for Mayor, all over the country, in big cities, in small towns, that'll support progressive ideals. In a view of taking America back, so that our government will actually serve ordinary Americans again, instead of, as George Bush has done, serve special interests. That's where we're going to be putting an enormous amount of energy. We have a budget, we have an organization, and we have a lot of people around this country that want to do that.
Borger: Okay. Howard Dean, former Democratic Presidential candidate, now a supporter of John Kerry, officially endorsing him today. Thanks so much for being with us.
Dean: Thanks very much.