CNN's 'Inside Politics Sunday'
March 21, 2004
CROWLEY: Howard Dean is back on the stump, 32 days after climbing off. He's giving speeches to promote his new political movement, Democracy for America. I talked with a former Vermont governor about his hopes for the organization, as well as his relationship with John Kerry and his plans for the future.
CROWLEY: Let's start out, Governor, talking about Democracy for America. I was struck by something that's in your speech that says, "Never again should we allow the Democratic Party to lay down and die." Do you see this organization as a counterpart to the DLC?
DEAN: Some have called it that, and I think there is a need for that in the party. But I think what we really are interested in is the grassroots. We want to recruit candidates to run at school board levels, county commissioner levels, state legislators. We want to support them, we want to teach them how to raise money the way we did so they're not beholden to special interests. That's the way I think that we can really contribute to the rebirth of the Democratic Party.
CROWLEY: There's been with Senator McCain, with Ross Perot, there have been other groups that have been formed that seem to die over the years. What's going to propel this into something beyond kind of the P.S. to the Dean campaign?
DEAN: Well, I think what's -- I hope is going to propel it is the fact that the grass-roots folks that we have worked with understand that they really do have the -- not only the power but the responsibility to make this work.
What typically happens in these things is that the person who is running, like me, doesn't win, fades away and then the organization fades away. I want to keep this organization going.
CROWLEY: I was going to ask you about whether you have any way to gauge whether those who supported you so passionately are still there with you and you are able to move them into the Kerry camp?
DEAN: You know, I don't -- drag people around or tell them what to do. People make up their own mind. We have an array of activities, one of which is supporting John Kerry for president. Those who are not comfortable doing that at this point, we encourage them to get rid of -- excuse me, to get active in local grass-roots campaigns, run for office themselves. But in the end, I am going to make a maximum effort to get everyone to vote for John Kerry.
Ralph Nader's had a long and distinguished career. But unfortunately, your vote for Ralph Nader is essentially a vote for George Bush, and I don't think anybody wants that.
CROWLEY: Let me ask you about the famous list now. You probably have the most sought-after list of first-time donors, first-time-into- the-political-process donors.
What happens to that list?
DEAN: It stays with Democracy for America, which is the...
CROWLEY: You're not going to give it to the Kerry people?
DEAN: No, we're not going to give it away to anybody. We will certainly use it, as we did with Congressman Jackson. But I don't believe those people signed up to be solicited and spammed by every Democratic organization in the country.
So we will -- we won't rent it out. We won't sell and it we won't lend it to people. But we will use it on behalf of our candidates, and that includes Senator Kerry.
CROWLEY: Do you see Democracy for America occupying you full time for the next couple of years? Or are you planning on doing something else?
DEAN: I'm not going to take any salary from Democracy for America. I will try to make some money making speeches and writing a book and things like that. Because I don't think it's fair to ask $5 and $10 donors to pay me, you know, a big salary.
But I do plan to spend an enormous amount of time, and I expect that this organization is going to go past the November election. Keeping folks in Washington on the straight and narrow in response to ordinary Americans is a full-time job. As we can see, we've been a complete failure with this president, who caters mainly to big corporation and his campaign contributors and leaves most ordinary Americans behind. We don't want that to happen again, either from a Republican president or a Democratic president.
CROWLEY: You've got a group that you want to help clear the special interests out of Washington and still support Senator Kerry, who you believe has been supported by special interests.
How are you going to square that circle?
DEAN: Well, I think we concentrated in the primary campaigns on the things that divide us. Now, we're in the big dance -- -the dance to take back the White House.
And I think we concentrate on those things we have in common. Senator Kerry and I have a health plan that's almost exactly the same, and our folks want universal health care for every single American. Senator Kerry has a plan to do that.
Senator Kerry is a committed defender of the environment. That's very important to our people.
Senator Kerry has a much stronger record on defense than the president.
CROWLEY: You cast doubt on whether you thought Senator Kerry -- in fact, flatly said it times you didn't think he could beat Bush.
DEAN: Senator Kerry and I were tough rivals. We're both tough competitors in the Democratic primary.
The Democratic primary is over. John Kerry is the nominee of this party. He would be a far better president than George W. Bush and I'm going to do whatever I can to help him get elected.
CROWLEY: I guess (ph). Is that the answer to is he electable?
DEAN: He is electable. He will be the next president of the United States if any of us have anything to do with it. We're going to work very hard to make sure that he is.
CROWLEY: Let me ask you, do you plan to endorse Senator Kerry and when?
DEAN: I do and the timing is still under discussion. But it will be soon.
CROWLEY: And what about campaigning for him? Do you expect to see yourself on the stump either with Senator Kerry or on his behalf?
DEAN: He has not asked me to do that, but if he does I will.