Inaugural DNC Podcast
with Shripal Shah, December 5, 2005
Shripal Shah: Welcome, and thank you for joining us here at the inaugural edition of the DNC's podcast. The DNC's podcast will give you an opportunity to regularly hear from prominent voices in the Democratic Party. And what better way to start us off than to be joined by our guest today, none other than DNC Chairman, Governor Howard Dean.
Elected Chair back in February of 2005, Governor Dean is joining us for the DNC's Fall Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, which is the first meeting he has presided over since taking over as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Governor Dean, thanks for joining us today, and welcome to the DNC's podcast.
Governor Howard Dean: Thanks for having me on.
Shah: Governor Dean, tell us a little bit about the Fall Meeting. What are you planning to talk about during your address to the general assembly?
Dean: Really, three or four things. The first is, that we are announcing that this year we are having the next meeting in New Orleans. It's something that we can do for the people of New Orleans. I've met with Mississippi's folks, and they think this is gonna give them a boost, even though they're next door, and it's not their state. It is the right thing to do.
The second thing is, we're gonna talk about the organizing that we've been doing. We've been very successful. We have people on the ground in every state now, meeting with a lot of the state chairs about what's happening. And it's exciting. We have a chance, for example, to take back a seat that's been held by Ernest Istook, who's a very conservative Congressman from Oklahoma, who's also been involved in the culture of corruption. And we've got three good candidates in Oklahoma to do that. We've got a chance to pick up some seats in the House and the Senate in Mississippi. So these investments that we're making in these states are paying off.
We've been successful raising money and we're gonna raise more. There's a lot of enthusiasm here at the meeting for a joint voter file list that will really work the way it's supposed to, and that every Democrat in the country will be able to benefit from.
And then we're talking about the agenda for next year. Jobs for America that'll stay in America with the energy independence industry. A defense posture that's based on telling the truth. I think it's fair to say that Congressman Jack Murtha is a hero here in Phoenix. We want a national health system that includes everybody, just like 36 other countries have. And we want a strong public education system. Most of all, we want honesty back in government again.
So those are the basic things that we're speaking about. There's a lot on the plate, and it'll be a busy three days.
Shah: Now, Governor Dean, I also heard that you're meeting with various caucuses while you're there in Phoenix. Tell us about those meetings.
Dean: They've been very good. We need to do outreach. You know, this is a party that is a minority party-- everybody in this party is a member of a minority group, except for women. Otherwise, this is the future of America. There's not gonna be a majority in America in fifteen years, so we're doing a very active outreach program to all the different caucuses, and we've improved and increased minority participation in the DNC through the at-large appointments as well.
Shah: Moving to a new subject. The other day, President Bush was in Annapolis, Maryland, and he delivered a speech about this administration's strategy in Iraq. What are your thoughts on his speech?
Dean: I think it's extraordinary that 2½ years after invading Iraq, the President now decides he actually has a plan. [small, sardonic laugh] I can't imagine how he could possibly think he was gonna get away with the idear that he was gonna develop this strategy for what to do in Iraq, 2½ years after he sent our troops there. I think that Jack Murtha's absolutely right. We need a strategic redeployment of our troops in Iraq. The 80,000 Guardsmen need to come back to the country. We need a fighting force there that's not based in Iraq, but based next door, so that we can deal with the ongoing terrorism that the President's actions have led to. And I think there's a lot of support for what Jack Murtha's talking about, here at the DNC.
Shah: Yes, but at the same time, Governor Dean, there are critics who are very quick to point out that a lot of Democrats voted for this war in Iraq. What do you say to those critics?
Dean: I believe that what some of the Senators said was exactly right. If the President had been truthful with the United States Congress and truthful to the American people, there never would've been a vote on Iraq. [hat tip to Hillary!] I think people want to believe the President, the problem is they made a mistake. They did believe this President, and this President has not told the truth to this country, or to our soldiers, or to our allies about what was going on in Iraq before we went there.
Shah: You wrote in an op-ed the other day that appeared in 'The Hill' that in 2006, Democrats will take back the House and Senate. How do you think Democrats are gonna make that happen?
Dean: Well, I think-- first of all, we have very good candidates. I just met with the chair of Oklahoma, and we do have three potential great candidates to pick up that seat now held by Congressman Istook. And there's a lot of that going on all over the country. They're having trouble-- the Republicans are having trouble recruiting people because they know that it's going to be a Democratic year, and we're finding great candidates in relatively conservative parts of the country.
I do think there's gonna be a wave of disgust with the culture of corruption that the President and the Republicans in general have brought, both to Washington and to state houses around the country. We saw the down payment on that with the wins in New Jersey and California and Virginia this past November. And I think we're gonna see more of that. So I do believe that it's possible to take back both the houses, and that we have better candidates, they're well-financed, and we're getting more candidates as time goes along.
Shah: You touched on the phrase, "culture of corruption" just a second ago. The other day, Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion charges. What do you make of this news?
Dean: I think there're gonna be many more Demo-- ah, Republicans are-- many more Democrats that pick up Republican seats like Congressman Cunningham's because of the culture of corruption. We have a wonderful candidate, Francine Busby, who's gonna be running in what is now gonna be a special election for Congressman Cunningham's seat. She can win that seat. She got 44% a year ago. [She is running for this seat the second time in a row- Crocuta.] We have other candidates who can do the same.
There'll be more-- Congressman Bob Ney from Ohio, he's up to his eyeballs in a corruption scandal. It looks like Congressman Hunter from California, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, is involved in a corruption scandal. So I think we're gonna see a lot of these Republicans-- this is the arrogance of power. These folks have taken advantage of the American people. They've done things they shouldn't have done. They sold their vote, and I think there's gonna be a come-uppance, and a change.
But we need to do some things on the Democratic side. We can't just complain about their corruption. We need strong ethics legislation in the House and the Senate, so this isn't gonna happen again. And that's one of the things I think we need to promise to the American people, that if they put their trust in us in 2006, we'll do a number of things. And one of those things is to pass strong ethics legislation.
Shah: These scandals that you discussed, what do you think they mean for Democrats and their chances in 2006 and 2008?
Dean: Nobody likes dishonesty. Republican voters don't like dishonesty any more than Democratic voters like it. When you get scandal after scandal, scandal that involves the leadership of the House, the leadership of the Senate; in the White House somebody was arrested the other day for being involved in one of these scandals. Karl Rove still has a security clearance after he leaked the name of a CIA agent! I mean, the dishonesty in this administration is extraordinary, and the public knows it, and they don't like it, and I don't blame them.
Shah: Governor Dean, that is all the time we have for today. I do want to thank you very much for taking time to speak with us.
Dean: Thanks very much. Stay tuned for the next podcast!