CNN Newsnight Aaron Brown
Monday, January 26, 2004
GUESTS: Howard Dean
BYLINE: Aaron Brown, Candy Crowley, David Ensor, Gary Tuchman, Susan Candiotti, William Schneider, Jeff Greenfield, Miles O'Brien
New Hampshire primary takes place tomorrow. Then, David Kay criticizes U.S. intelligence community. Finally, Lionel Tate released from prison today.
BROWN: Well, we're in an odd sort of time warp. About an hour and a quarter from now, the 11 inhabitants of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, will, as they always do, cast their ballots. Of course, if you're watching this on tonight's replay, that has already happened. Einstein's theory of relatively has nothing on cable TV.
And just to make it a little bit more complicated, we talked with Howard Dean earlier this afternoon. And if any of you out there in those other time zones already know how he is doing, trust me, when we talked, he didn't. He could only hope that he was close, so close that anything from policies to personalities could tip the election.
BROWN: Governor, let's see if we can get through this whole interview without talking about a week ago Monday night. But I do want to...
HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you just failed.
BROWN: I do want to know if it surprises you, concerns you that, clearly, part of the selection process has to do with your person, as opposed to simply the platform and your ideas, that people need to be comfortable with you?
DEAN: No, I actually think that's very important.
It's one of the reasons that Judy came out both to Iowa and to New Hampshire for a couple of days. I think it is important that people know who I am. They need to be comfortable with me as a person, not just as a person who has some ideas and thoughts about what's good for the country.
BROWN: Is that something that you entered the race believing or is it something you came to believe?
DEAN: No, I always knew that that would be true.
I am a private person, generally, so I don't readily share details of my private life. But I've disciplined myself to try to make myself do that some more. I think people have to like the president. They don't want to just put in somebody who's a good manager. Look, I'm a great manager. There are a lot of other people who are good managers, too. But I think you really have to like the person that you want to be your president. And you got to get to know them in order to like them.
BROWN: Let's talk a little bit about issues here.
Do you worry ever that your campaign is too identified with one issue, Iraq, and not identified more broadly with other things?
DEAN: Well, I actually don't think voters believe that.
I think that my campaign is really identified with some personality traits: Stand up for what you believe in and don't worry about what the polls say. And Iraq is a piece of that. I stood up against Iraq when nobody else would. But No Child Left Behind is a piece of that, too. No Child Left Behind is a disaster in places like New Hampshire and Iowa.
And I knew that early, because I was a governor. And the guys in the Senate all voted for it. So, standing up for what you believe in is part of the issue. The other part of the issue is actually accomplishing something. I've balanced budgets. I've delivered health care to every child under the age of 18. That's something you can't say if you're in the Senate or in a legislative body.
So, those are the kinds of things that I think make the campaign go. We're all good on the environment. We all have the same health care plans. The difference is that I delivered a health care plan. So that I think is what the real differences are in the campaign.
BROWN: But I guess what I'm trying to figure out is if you worry that, while that's how you see yourself and that's certainly how the campaign wants you to be seen, that you are still seen as, he's the guy who really is against the war in Iraq?
DEAN: Well, if I'm seen by that-like that by people who don't like the war in Iraq, that's not a bad thing.
I think, interestingly, there's a disconnect between what the media thinks people see and what the media sees. You all-you just said you didn't want to bring up the speech in Iowa, but I'll bring up the speech in Iowa. You guys played that 673 times last week, according to a piece I read.
And most people I've talked to thought-some thought it was over the top. And it certainly wasn't presidential. Most people saw it for what it was, a real pep rally type of thing. And you all saw something different in that. And I think there's a disconnect not just between what politicians think that ordinary people see, but there's also a disconnect between what the media thinks ordinary people see.
I believe that people know enough about me now so they can start to make significant judgments. They know I'll stand up for what I believe in. They know we have the kind of campaign that-where 89 percent of our money comes from small donations. And they know that, as a governor, I have a different set of experiences than senators and congressmen do. That's what people really need to know when they start to make decisions.
BROWN: Let me ask you a couple more things before I let you get away. Do you agree with this, that, to get to the White House, you first and foremost have to get people comfortable with your view on national security, because they won't even look at the other stuff if they're not there?
DEAN: I think that's not entirely true, but there is a significant amount of truth to it.
People's major issues now are jobs, health insurance and health care and education. National security is very important, but it's not going to win or lose the election.
BROWN: You really believe it's not going to win or lose the election, that, if people are uncomfortable with you on national security, you could still prevail in a general election?
DEAN: Well, I don't think-I think there's a different degree of comfort in national security.
I think people ought to be very uncomfortable with the president on national security, because we are not as safe now as we were when he came into office. He has different priorities. For example, his tax cuts are a big priority. Buying the enriched uranium stocks of the former Soviet Union don't seem to be a priority. Neither does inspecting the containers that come into this country, one of which contained uranium courtesy of one of the major news organizations, just to see if they could do it.
So I think the key is going to be to debate the president on the issue of national security. And I think you will find that he comes up short on national security.
BROWN: Governor, you have a long, long day tomorrow. We appreciate your time tonight. Thank you so very much.
DEAN: Thanks very much.
BROWN: Howard Dean. I'm sure that was the only interview he gave today.
Morning papers are next.
Content and programming Copyright 2004 Cable News Network Transcribed under license by FDCH e-Media, Inc.