Live Web Teleconference With Howard Dean
The Democratic National Convention, July 27, 2004
Howard Dean: (not) only are we going to rebuild our (?) 38 "call(ph)", ah, we're going to rebuild this party, and we're gonna do it, piece by piece just like we were talking about. So I just want to say thanks.
This call is important because it's not just about the Convention speech, although it's a big deal. We have worked really hard for the last 4 or 5 months, and you all were a big part of this. And now we want to make sure that we can continue to be connected to each other. This is-- when you're not running for President, it's always harder to kind of focus on the task at hand. I think you all have done a fantastic job of doing that. We have a lot -- you guys have done a lot of work, we want you to swing the bat tonight, we've got a lot of work to do and we need your help to do it. And one of the biggest things we need to do is coordinate all of (the things?) that are going on all over the country. State by state, we need you all to talk to us, but we also need you all to talk to each other, 'cause there's phenomenal things going on in every single state that you've talked about so far.
We have really energized people at this convention, it's incredibly energetic. And the greatest thing about it for me has been seeing the down-ballot people that are on the Dean's list, and that you are pushing. Now I think most of you know that as of August 23rd we're going to do the last Dean's list, and then we'll turn the Dean's list over to all the local organizations so we can get more people out and more people recognized, and help a lot more people than 12 every two weeks. So, I just wanna say, 'thank you.' You've done this, I really meant what I said, 'it's not about me, it's about us', and it's just been a phenomenal experience. And I can't thank you enough.
And I'm gonna be happy to take questions, comments and rude remarks as always as necessary.
Columbus, Ohio: Well, I'll come up with a question, this is Columbus, Ohio, and this time last year I was in Burlington stuffing MeetUp packets. And I spent a wonderful week with your volunteer, Pat Hansen, who's still working at headquarters, I understand.
Howard Dean: Yes, he is.
Columbus, Ohio: Someone who's never been political, another one of many. And I was in Cincinnati when my former boss, Senator Metzenbaum endorsed you, and...
Howard Dean: Wow! That was phenomenal, wasn't it?
Columbus, Ohio: --wonderful? Anyway, our question: you have inspired and engaged so many people around the country, but no more so than in our large and very diverse state. Ohio has a critically important role in the fight to take back America. Many of those you have motivated are new to political activity. How do we convince these new volunteers to participate actively, not only in the vital effort to elect John Kerry and John Edwards, but also to support all of the local candidates down the ballot, whose service will directly affect their daily life?
Howard Dean: "Record niss(ph)" I'm very glad you asked that question, it's a great question 'cause it applies to all 38 states. You need to let people choose their own campaigns. What I used to say in the speeches that I give is, voting is not enough anymore, you've gotta either run for office yourself, and we really encourage people to do that, not just in this cycle but in following cycles; or if you can't do that 'cause of personal circumstances, you've gotta volunteer 3 hours a week on somebody's campaign. The truth is, it doesn't matter if they volunteer in a particular campaign that we want them to volunteer in, because whatever they do, they're going to bring new people to the polls, and those new people are not gonna vote for George W. Bush.
Ohio happens to be a particularly important state, and I'm thrilled that John Kerry's up by 4 in Ohio in the last poll that I saw. But they're all-- every state that's on here is a particularly important state, because we're building for the future. So even in those states, as I said tonight, like Mississippi and Idaho and Utah, where we haven't done so well, we're building for the future. Not just this election, but the following election and so forth.
So, what I would do is get them involved in something they want to do. I think the big mistake that politicians often make, and party builders often make, is you think that you've gotta get them involved with candidates they don't particularly like. I think that's a mistake. I think we get 'em involved in the candidates that they like, and if they don't like any candidates, and they don't want to work after they've worked for us, then what I would say is, 'fine, you don't have to work on anybody's campaign, you gotta run yourself.' They owe it to democracy to do something.
There's, as I've said in my speeches, there's three reasons that this country's in trouble. 98% of the fault, which we'll be reminding the American electorate for the next 4 1/2 months or so, is George Bush. One percent is the Democratic Party did not stand up to George Bush when they should have, and the other 1% is all of us who did not vote. Now I know that people on the phone call mostly have voted, but there are a lot of people in this country who have not voted. You know, you get what you deserve, and if you don't vote we end up with George Bush. So that's what I would do. I would just really get 'em enthused, and if you can't get 'em enthused about any candidate, then make 'em run themselves.
Columbus, Ohio: Sounds good.
Judge O'Neill: Governor?
Howard Dean: Yes.
Judge O'Neill: Governor, this is Judge O'Neill from Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
Howard Dean: How are you?
Judge O'Neill: Thank you for making me your Dean Dozen and we stole "Toby Paul's graph(ph)" from you as well.
Howard Dean: Great!
Judge O'Neill: Governor, what role will you be playing as, in the upcoming election here in Ohio?
Howard Dean: I know I'm traveling to Ohio; I believe it's on the 5th of September, 'cause I know I'm going to Dennison University, but when I do that I'm going to certainly make other stops in Ohio, we just don't know where yet. That's the only-- my schedule is horribly complicated, but I expect to be spending a fair amount of time in those states. But I'm also gonna be in the battleground states, but I'm also going to make a special effort-- I'm pretty sure I'm gonna be coming to Colorado between now and the end of the election as well, and...
[cheers and whistles]
Howard Dean [chuckles]: I know for example, I know I'm going to Texas, on the, I think it's the 19th or 20th of August, so... I don't have my schedule right here in front of me at the Fleet Center, but, you're gonna see me in Ohio for sure.
Unknown 1: Governor Dean, how are we doing?
Howard Dean: We're doing great! There's a couple things I wanted to mention, I did not. First of all, go to our website and try to push the website as hard as you can, 'cause you're all linked to us, I hope. Second of all, we want people on our BlogForAmerica.com, because that's how we find out what's going on in the country, just as we did in the campaign. We want to share local tools, and we want to put you guys together with each other, to share the tools that you're using that are great. And we also want to try to crank out emails to your friends and get them into the loop, 'cause we need to rebuild the list. We've come a long way back from the low point after I dropped out, but we still have a long way to go. And I honestly think that we may be the most important force in the Democratic Party after the election. We-- obviously, I'm hoping John wins, and I think he's going to, but if he does, the DNC's going to be about reelecting John Kerry, which I think is great, but somebody else is gonna have to worry about all of the-- all of you all, who are by that time running for office in the 2006 cycle.
Unknown 2: Governor Dean, how are you doing?
Howard Dean: I'm doing great!
Unknown 2: You know, a quick question for you. There's a lot of concern about the voting machines.
Howard Dean: Yes.
Unknown 2: In about 35 or 37 states. What are the Democrats doing to assure that we're not going to be robbed again?
Howard Dean: Well, John Kerry has a team of lawyers that are going to be out in 50 states, with particular attention to Florida. What we're-- What Democracy For America is doing, and we'd like your help and interest in this one, as well, and we'd like your help locally on this one too, is: I'm writing columns, we're having press conferences, we're trying to elevate this issue. Kevin Shelley, who's the Secretary of State in California, who's part of that partnership True Majority, other groups, to make sure that American people know now that the voting machines are not trustworthy. So that we can raise this issue, and so Secretaries of State, as they did in Ohio and California, will say 'no, we're not gonna use those voting machines in this cycle'.
Colorado: Governor Dean?
Howard Dean: Yes.
Colorado: This is Colorado. Hi.
Howard Dean: Hi!
Colorado: We are just so thrilled to be on this phone call with you, and I wanted to go back to a comment that you just made with our question, because we have been working very hard on this big precinct project in order to create a long-term goal and long-term action plan to really take back our country over the next several decades, if that's what it takes.
Howard Dean: Well, it won't take that long, if we work hard enough.
Colorado: Hopefully not! So our question for you is, what do you think we need to be working on now, not only to help Kerry win in November, but also to keep the grassroots motivated, engaged, and committed beyond this election?
Howard Dean: Well, as soon as this election is over, hopefully Kerry and Edwards will win. And then we've got a whole series of things that are important.
First of all, in Colorado, you don't exactly have a friendly Legislature to progressive causes, nor do you have a friendly Governor. So you'll have plenty of things to do in terms of getting people elected to the Legislature in the next cycle.
Secondly, around the country, if John Kerry wins, we got a big agenda in front of us. John Kerry told me personally, and he said it publicly, that universal health insurance is gonna be the first bill out of the White House when he gets to be President. Well, we have a lot of work to do in the states doing just the things that you did for me, when I was running for President-- writing letters to the editor, the... you know, all the things that the Instant Rapid Response team did, attacking journalists and people who, on the right wing who aren't talking about the issues and are framing them in wrong ways. There's a lot of work to be done. Doing campaigns around issues is a little like doing campaigns around candidates-- you have to be very, very focused and very disciplined. There's lots and lots and lots of things to do to energize the grassroots.
Susan Clary: Governor Dean?
Howard Dean: Mm Hm?
Susan Clary: This is Susan Clary, I'm a candidate for Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor in Orange County, Florida.
Howard Dean: All right!
Susan Clary: We're all here at my house, a big house party for celebrating your conference call. I want to thank you for staying involved after your Presidential bid, and for your assistance in my campaign as one of the Dean Dozen. We have a saying here in Orlando: "Start at the bottom of the ballot, so Clary to Kerry."
Howard Dean: That's right! [chuckles]
Susan Clary: Florida is the largest battleground state, and Orange County is at the center of the key Interstate 4 corridor. In 2000, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 3600 voters, and Gore won Orange County by 3600. Today, we outnumber them by 20,000 voters and want to give a huge victory to Senator Kerry. The question is, how important are Florida's 27 electoral votes, and will you come to Orlando and campaign for Senator Kerry, our Democratic Senatorial candidate, and myself in the fall to help keep Orange County in the Democratic column?
Howard Dean: Well, we are working on a Florida trip right now. We don't have it nailed down yet, and I can't tell you where it's gonna be in Florida, but the answer is, we are very, very interested in working hard in Florida. It is a critical state, it is a huge battleground state, and it's gonna play a big role. This time we'd really like to win Florida; 'cause we won it once before but it didn't seem to count.
Katie O'Neill: Governor, this is Katie O'Neill from Chagrin Falls. You talked to my father earlier. I was traveling the state, and what I've noticed, and what a lot of people have been complaining about is, having to buy bumper stickers for Kerry, and yard signs, T-shirts. You know, we're outspent by the Republican Party and it's still hard for us to make it visible that this is a Democratic state. What is being done to solve this problem?
Howard Dean: How much are they charging you?
Katie O'Neill: They're charging $76 for, I would say, about a hundred bumper stickers, $10 for a T-shirt; so it's really costing the Democratic Party here a lot of money. And this being a battleground state, you know, I'm wondering what the other states are dealing with as well?
Howard Dean: Well, it's hard for me to criticize that, 'cause we used to sell those things, to raise money for the campaign. There's two reasons that I-- you know, maybe the prices could come down a little or something like that, but there's two reasons that I think charging is good. Charging something. First of all, if you pay 50 cents for a bumper sticker or whatever it is, you're much more likely to put it on your car than if you get a hundred of 'em for free. And secondly, the money will go to the Kerry campaign and that'll be very helpful. So, I think the important thing here is to make sure that people don't deny themselves signs and bumper stickers 'cause they can't afford them. That we don't want. But I think paying something, to defray the printing cost, 'cause it's certainly not free to the Kerry campaign, is probably worthwhile.
Tim Carroll, Georgia For Democracy: Governor Dean?
Howard Dean: Yes.
Tim Carroll: This is Tim Carroll with Georgia For Democracy.
Howard Dean: Hey, great! Georgia, all right!
Howard Dean: Hey, we had some great wins down there, didn't we? You guys did a great job in the primary. We had 4 out of our 5 Dean Dozen candidates won in the primaries. Congratulations to you!
Tim Carroll: Yeah, thank you.
[More cheering and applause, sounds like people banging on drums]
Tim Carroll: (?) we'd like to thank you for your support of our candidates in Georgia, and also to ...
[laughter somewhere on the line, crosstalk from other conference-ees]
Tim Carroll: ... like yourself, Carol Mosely Braun, other large Democratic contenders, through the South, in states like Georgia to help our local and state candidates here.
Howard Dean: Well, you know I'd love to do that, and again, I don't have my schedule in front of me, and it is gonna be really complicated, but Georgia was very good to me during the race, and I do not believe we oughtta confine ourselves to the battleground states. It may be that John Kerry and John Edwards have to, but I do not intend to confine myself to the battleground states. So you will see me in states like Georgia, because I think the Democratic Party really needs a strong boost, and I think we ought to have national Democratic figures going into Georgia and talk about the things that matter. I-- as I have said so often, and I've said it again today in an earlier speech, I'm tired of having the elections fought on the issues of guns, God and gays, 'cause we're gonna win if we can fight it on education, health care, and jobs. So I'm happy to come down, I don't know when, and we'll have to work that out with the scheduling folks.
We've gotta take one more and then I've gotta go.
Jane from Kentucky: Hi, this is Jane from Kentucky.
Howard Dean: Hey, Kentucky, all right!
Jane: Hi Howard, well thank you--
Howard Dean: --Well, I'll tell you something. People around here think you guys are fantastic in Kentucky. I have had more people come up to me and tell me how great Change for America is doing-- I mean Change for Kentucky is doing, and how much they appreciate all your hard work. So even though you think the Democrats are resisting you, there are a lot of them here that really appreciate what you've done.
Jane: Thank you. And actually what-- one of the things we're working for here in Kentucky is, that we have a lot of counties in Kentucky that haven't had a Democratic candidate in a long time, and the Change for Kentucky movement is starting to move people in the rural parts of the state. Our question for you is, what can you do to help the people in Washington hear the message about rural politics, and about rural health care.
Howard Dean: I have to think about that a little bit. Jesse Jackson asked me to go to Appalachia with him around Labor Day, and we haven't decided whether we can do that or not. But we'll talk with you offline to figure out if those are the kinds of things that are helpful. I definitely want to make a trip through rural America to talk about health care, and we'd love to have your input and thoughts about how we might want to do that.
Jane: So, is that a 'yes' you'll swing through Kentucky?
Howard Dean: I can't say 'yes' to that, and you're very smart to try to pressure me, but we have a huge schedule to cram into about 60 days. So, I really want to do it, but until I have a schedule sitting in front of me, I can't. So, I'm gonna have to go, because--
Jane: --Okay, one big whoop here from Kentucky!
[a lot of loud whoops and cheers]
Howard Dean: Thank you.
[last few whoops]
Jane: We love ya.
[someone in the background yells]: Whooo! How-ard!
Colorado: A big thank you from Colorado as well--
Howard Dean: -- Oh. Hold on a second--
Howard Dean [through the cheering]: -- I'm told I'm staying on for a short period of time more, 'cause more people are on, trying to get on the system. So anybody else have a question? Preferably not from any of the states that have already talked to us.
[long pause or very faint voice]
Howard Dean: I'm sorry, if you could speak up some, that'd be really helpful.
[more pause, maybe a really faint voice, almost inaudible]
Howard Dean: Hello?
Jane?: All the good questions have come from all the powerful states, Governor Dean... [Dean laughs] ... what can we say?
Howard Dean: Well, we wanna give-- apparently the system is really jammed up, and people are trying to get on to get a question, so I was gonna give somebody else a chance, if there is one out there, is there?
[faint sound of a cheer or something]
Howard Dean: No? All right, listen. Let me thank you so very much. Do not forget, please go on our website at Democracy For America and swing the bat tonight. We're gonna use that bat to send George Bush that one-way bus ticket back to Crawford Texas. You have been fantastic. I appreciate it. Let's keep in touch. We're gonna rebuild this country together. And thanks so much for all you've already done.
Florida: Hey, Governor Dean, we love you in Florida!
Howard Dean: You are great.
Howard Dean: We'll see you on the trail. Bye-bye.