CNN American Morning
Milwaukee, WI, Tuesday, January 27, 2004
An interview with Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Depending on which poll you read, Howard Dean is either in a dog fight with the Democratic front-runner John Kerry or poised to finish a solid second here in New Hampshire. Dean told supporters yesterday that he has every intention of winning today.
Howard Dean is with us now live here in Manchester. Nice to see you, Governor. Good morning to you.
HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks for having me on again.
HEMMER: How do you feel on a day like today? I mean, this is ballgame essentially.
DEAN: It is. We've worked hard. We've got a great organization. And now it's up to the New Hampshire voters. If you want a real change in Washington, I'm going to win. If you just want to switch presidents, then maybe I will, maybe I won't.
HEMMER: You have been charged already today as going negative. You've heard the charge the last couple of days. Senator Kerry was with us about two hours ago, listen to how he characterized it first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
U.S. SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D-MA): A couple of days ago, Governor Dean said he was going to stop running a negative attack campaign. And within two days, he attacked Alan Greenspan, he attacked every single candidate. He's attacked me. You know, I think the question is when he's going to stop running a negative campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: Is he right?
DEAN: I think-you know, I was the front-runner in this race for a long time and everybody threw everything they could at me. I think one of the things John is going to have to learn as the front- runner, he is going to have to stop whining when people say things about him that are different.
Senator Kerry and I have different records. He voted against the first Iraq war; I supported it. He voted in favor of this Iraq war; I opposed it.
We're going to have differences of opinion. John is going to have to learn to be tough. I had to take it all summer. He is going to have to take it now that he's the front-runner.
HEMMER: Are you suggesting he's not tough? Are you suggesting that he is a whiner?
DEAN: I think that's up to the people of the country to decide. They-this is a tough business and we've had a lot of tough stuff thrown around here. And if you want to be president, you are going to have to be tough.
HEMMER: Listen, you have thrown a million dollars into New Hampshire in the past week. Does that suggest that the numbers have not gone in the way that you want it to go?
DEAN: Well, we would like to win here. And when you have the money, you ought to spend it on trying to win, and we are.
We have a good field organization, we put out some good ads and we are working really hard to convince voters that if they want a president, presidential change, they can vote for any of us, because any of us are much better than what we have in Washington right now. But if they want to really change this country so ordinary Americans are in charge of their government, then I would like their support.
HEMMER: Just back to the question, you mentioned the word tough again. Has this been a tougher fight than you had predicted even before Iowa? Because if you look at the latest tracking poll numbers, they indicate anyway, according to the Zogby numbers, you are in double digits trailing John Kerry even today.
DEAN: It's been tough all the way through. The toughest part was being on the cover of Time and Newsweek all summer and having everybody say I was the front-runner, which made me the target.
HEMMER: Why was that tough?
DEAN: Because that's when you are the target. When you are out front, everybody targets you.
HEMMER: You have-it's been suggested anyway that you were too slow to respond to the criticism that came your way after this speech that some have labeled-no offense-“I had a scream.”
DEAN: “I had a scream.” I thought it was great.
HEMMER: As you look back right now, were you too slow to respond? Should you have been ahead of that on Tuesday as opposed to waiting for Thursday or Friday?
DEAN: That was obsession by you all. You all played that 673 times in one week. It even beat out Michael Jackson, which I was surprised about.
HEMMER: Are you suggesting that we were the ones that helped fuel that argument?
DEAN: I don't think-I think most people just look at the speech and say OK, it was a passionate speech. Was it presidential? Of course it was not presidential. Would I do it differently if I had the chance? Yes, I would.
But I'm a very different political candidate than most people. I really basically don't care what the media has to say. I think that you guys are in the entertainment business, I think that's terrific.
I have a message for people, it is we need to change this country, we need to stand up for ordinary Americans. We need to balance the budget and stop promising everybody everything. I have done those things as governor and I'm willing to be tough enough to stand up for what's right and not just what's popular.
HEMMER: It seems the polling started to stabilize and even come back into your favor toward the end of last week and over the weekend, suggesting that self-deprecation works for a lot of the voting population here in America. Do you agree with that? And if so, would you have done it sooner if given the chance again?
DEAN: I don't know. I rarely look back. I did what I did. If I had-the speech was designed to rally 3,500 kids waving American flags who had come out and worked their hearts out with me for three weeks in Iowa. We finished third. It was a disappointment. I thought I would give them a pep talk. What I didn't bank on was you all not showing the audience, and it made it look ridiculous. But that's the way it goes.
HEMMER: I have time for one more question here, and you have consistently talked about how strong you are nationally. Even if you finish a distant second in New Hampshire today, do you believe your campaign is set up to win in other parts of the country like South Carolina and like Oklahoma? Because the polls have not gone in your favor in those locations either.
DEAN: We are in this to the end. We have a different message about America. We want to fundamentally change the country. We are leaving from here to go back to do satellite work in Vermont for a day, then south Carolina, Missouri, Arizona, New Mexico. We have a national campaign. We want to win and I want to change the Democratic party.
HEMMER: Good luck to you.
DEAN: Thank you very much.
HEMMER: We will see you on the road.
Content and programming Copyright 2004 Cable News Network Transcribed under license by FDCH e-Media, Inc.