Big Story Weekend Edition with Rita Cosby
April 18, 2004
Ms. Rita Cosby: Senator Kerry was out on the campaign trail attacking the Bush Administration again on a number of fronts today. We want to talk about the war of words now, and all the current events in Iraq with a former Presidential candidate. Howard Dean joins us now exclusively live from South Burlington, Vermont. Welcome, Governor Dean, good to see you.
Fmr. Governor Howard Dean: Thanks for having me on, Rita.
Cosby: I-I want to ask you, just real quick, Paul Bremer just made a statement a couple hours ago, saying that essentially, that Iraqis are not going to be able to protect themselves. They'll be able to have power, political power, by June 30th the handover date, but not be able, for security reasons, to be able to protect themselves. What's your reaction?
Dean: What do you mean he's not-- I-I don't understand what he meant, 'they're not gonna be able to protect themselves'? That means he's gonna take away their AK-47s? (which is) a bad idear.(grin)
Cosby: No-- well what he's saying, what he's saying is essentially that U.S. forces will have to maintain security, ah, issues there, and-and others as well.
Dean: Well, that's not a surprise. I mean one of the things that was perfectly obvious to me before we went even into Iraq that this situation was going to be much more difficult than anybody was willing to admit, and to think that we're going to go in there and stabilize the place in a year was, was nutty.
Cosby: So how long do you think we're going to have to be there?
Dean: How long-- somebody's going to have to be there for a long time. I personally believe that the UN needs to take over our mission in Iraq and that the number of American solders ought to be reduced significantly and replaced with foreign soldiers, as George Bush's father did when we went to save Kuwait from Saddam, a war which I supported, but I certainly didn't support this one, 'cause I don't think they did very much thinking about what they were gonna do when they got there.
Cosby: Bob Woodward said (in) his book, you know, a lot of experts have been coming out, that at first Karl Rove wanted you of course to be the nominee, and then in February 2004 when things were not going well in Iraq, he was glad that you were not the nominee, because he felt that your sort of coherent anti-war message would have been harder to go up against. What do you say to that?
Dean: Well, you know, to think that anything that Karl Rove has to say about who the Democratic nominee might or not be is straightforward, I think is a mistake. Fortunately Democrats nominate Democratic nominees, not Karl Rove. (small smile)
Cosby: But do you think you would have been a better candidate now, given what's happening in Iraq?
Dean: John Kerry is the nominee, I'm supporting John Kerry, and I'm supporting John Kerry because I think he'll be a much better President in terms of defending us and in terms of managing the economy than George Bush is, and I'm happy to support John Kerry. Obviously I would have liked to have won the nomination but I didn't win the nomination, and now what we're gonna do, is try to get a Democratic President elected who can replace this craziness and half trillion dollar deficits and a war that nobody seemed to have any idea what was gonna happen once-- before we sent the troops in, so we sent them there and now we can't deal with it. Ah, and I'd like a new President. And I'd also like some grassroots people, and I have to say, that in some ways Ralph Reed and Lee Atwater are the model... They, along with Newt Gingrich, managed to allow the right wing of the Republican Party to take over both the House and Senate, the Supreme Court and the White House, and they did it in part by making sure that their message got out everywhere in America. We've gotta do that in the Democratic Party, we'd better run people for office, and that's what DemocracyForAmerica's going to do.
Cosby: Now, if John Kerry were to offer you a vice-presidential position, would you take it?
Dean: He hasn't, (smiles) and so I --
Cosby: --But if he were, if he were-- (smiling as she goes after him) I-I-- are you ruling it out? Would you say no?
Dean: I-I would never rule anything out. If John Kerry asked me to do anything I would certainly consider it, but he hasn't asked me to do that, and I wanna do whatever I can do to help this party take back the White House, and whatever that might be is gonna be up to John Kerry.
Cosby: Would you consider running for President again, in 2008?
Dean: I won't have to, because I hope John Kerry's gonna win and the next opening will be 2012. (smiles)
Cosby: And if he doesn't? What about 2008?
Dean: Well, then we'll-- then we'll think about it. But right now I'm really focused on November and I'm focused on rebuilding the Democratic Party. We've gotta develop grassroots. We've gotta stand for something. We've gotta be unafraid to take our message to every part of this country, and stop the id-- stop the notion that we just-- we can't win in the South and things like that. We *can* win in the South, but we can't win if we don't go there and lay out our message.
Cosby: What are you worried about Ralph Nader? I know you wrote an op-ed recently. Are you worried he's going to take the anti-war vote away?
Dean: Well, I'm concerned that-- you know, Ralph Nader spent 40 years doing some good things in this country. He helped the consumerist movement, in many ways led it and founded it, certainly he's been a strong supporter of the environment. But, unfortunately those who vote for Ralph Nader are people who would might other-- who might well otherwise vote for John Kerry, so I believe a vote for Ralph Nader in this election is the same thing as a vote for George Bush. It's not gonna help the country in the long run.
Cosby: Senator Kerry-- obviously the 9-eleven commissions have been in the headlines a lot. Senator Kerry hasn't really criticized, talked about it-- is he missing an opportunity?
Dean: You know, I'm not privy to the strategy about, about that, I think that Richard Clark's testimony has been devastating to the President.
Cosby: What about Jamie Gorelick?
Dean: Ah, you know she was a fine Attorney General, and I think she's done a fine job on that commission, along with Lee Hamilton and the chairman, Tom Kean. I think it's a-- actually a pretty good--
Cosby: --But Governor Dean, what about all this stuff about her, sort of essentially creating this wall, by doing, you know, the disparate, ah, with the different intelligence agencies. A lot of people say she contributed to the problem. Shouldn't she- she-- (Dean tries to speak here) even though I know, she did have a fine service when she was at the Justice-- Justice Department under Reno, should she maybe step back from the commission now?
Dean: I think if anybody should step back it's probably John Ashcroft. That was just more Republican blather and beating around the bush. The problem is, that those guys dropped the ball, and they dropped the ball big time, and now they're gonna be asked to be accountable for it. So I think all that stuff about attacking Jamie Gorelick for some memo she wrote in 1995 was just right-wing Republican spin. The Republicans have a lot to answer here, and I think this commission's doing a great job.
Cosby: Let's talk about also the tax records, because, obviously Senator Kerry's wife has not released 'em. You didn't release a portion of your gubernatorial records and some say that hurt you, that you paid at least some sort of political price. Do you think she should, because there never has been a Presidential candidate's wife who has refused to release records? (Dean looks pensive here)
Dean: Um, I'm not sure that's true, it could be true, um, but-- You know, she is abiding by the law, and I think it's always interesting that the media expects the candidates to do more than abide by the law. This happened to me. I was actually the candidate, when I was running, who laid out more of my financial information than any other candidate, including all my seven years of tax ret-- last seven years of tax refor--er, returns, which I'm not required to do by law. I got rewarded for it by having a major newspaper call up and threaten that if we didn't give them more they were gonna put an unfavorable story on the front page of their paper.
(they crosstalk for a moment:)
Cosby: But wouldn't it just put it to rest--
Dean: --I think Theresa Heinz-- Theresa--
Cosby: --Shouldn't she just for perception just say 'let me just put it out there'?
Dean: I think that's up to her. But she's obeyed the law, so has John Kerry, and I, I think the media's a little hypocritical. Nobody-- how about-- President Bush releasing, and the SEC releasing the results of the Harkin Energy investigation? That's never-- those questions have never been answered. Here's a woman that's obeyed the law, she-- as far as the law goes, has never been gone after by the IRS for not paying any taxes. She's obeying the law, that's what she's gonna ask her to do, and I think that's fair.
Cosby: You've been at a lot of rallies recently, I mean you were in fact at a rally not too long ago in Maryland; lot of Democratic candidates for Congress, including (ph: costen salla kanakis) who was there, and a number of others. You get a big applause. I was told the fans were really-- you know-- you've got a huge support base. Do you think they're gonna go automatically to Senator Kerry, or are there some who are going to say, 'look, I only want Howard Dean'?
Dean: Nobody's automatically gonna go to anybody. I think that's one of the mistakes the Democrats have made over the past twenty years. We've taken our constituency groups automatic-- automatically for granted. We've gotta go out and ask for the votes. Senator Kerry has to ask my supporters for their votes, just as he has to ask Latinos and African Americans and everybody else for their votes. But I think it's-- he's in a good position to win if he asks for the votes, and he has been, we've been working on it. I had a phone call with a bunch of our organizers in California today, and I said, 'look, there are lots of things you can do. I urge you to go and work on John Kerry's campaign, but if you don't wanna do that, work for some of the 35 or 40 people in California from our movement who are, who are running for office. Because when those folks go out and get their voters to come in, they're gonna vote for President, and and they're gonna vote for John Kerry.' So there are lots of ways to help John Kerry. I'm not asking anybody to do anything they're uncomfortable with. Ultimately, this election is John Kerry's to win or lose. He's gonna ask people for their votes. I think he's done a good job asking our supporters for their votes, and I support John Kerry for that reason.
Cosby: Governor Howard Dean, great to have you on. We appreciate your being here.
Dean: (smiles) Thanks, Rita.Cosby: Thank you very much.
Video located on the Fox website, about halfway down the page on the right side.