Interview on CNN Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics
Manchester, NH, January 9, 2004
GUESTS: Mike Glover, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Howard Dean, Gregory Mankiw, Evan Tracey
BYLINE: Judy Woodruff, Candy Crowley, Howard Kurtz, William Schneider, Charles Feldman
Howard Dean's campaign is BUSH: sy today doing damage control over a past interview in which Dean criticized the caucus process. Interview with Gregory Mankiw.
WOODRUFF: We are listening to an endorsement of Governor Howard Dean by Tom Harkin, the Democratic senator from the state of Iowa.
With that comment, we are going to turn governor Howard Dean himself. He joins us from Manchester, New Hampshire. Governor Dean, I know it must make you happy to hear those comments from Senator Harkin. But you know, already your opponents are saying it's too late. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives saying it's too late. What do you say?
DEAN: It's too late, Tom's endorsement?
I think Tom Harkin is one of the great leaders in the United States Congress-great leader on education, great leader on labor rights, great leader on disability issues.
I really appreciate this endorsement. It means an enormous amount to me because Tom Harkin is a fighter, and we're going to need a fighter to take on George Bush.
WOODRUFF: So when the campaigns, in particular, of John Kerry and Dick Gephardt, say curious timing, the fact this is coming out at a time when your campaign has hit a bit of a bump in the road, what do you say?
DEAN: I say I'm glad to have Tom Harkin's endorsement. Tom is a tough streetfighter, and he understands what ordinary Americans have suffered under this president.
Just yesterday, he was talking about that the Bush administration tried to cut overtime and hide overtime payments for people making $22,000 a year. I think we need a president who is not going to be the president of corporations and who is going to be the president of ordinary Americans.
WOODRUFF: Governor, I want to ask you about these interviews that you did on a number of Canadian television programs some years ago while you were governor of Vermont. As you know, they're all in the news today. NBC News broke the story last night.
First of all, the comment getting so much attention in Iowa is your statement that the Iowa presidential caucuses are dominated by special interests. Are they dominated by special interests or not?
DEAN: Judy, I've learned a lot about Iowa and Iowa caucuses over the last two years. I've been to all 99 counties. And I couldn't be in this race if it weren't for the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.
The only way a candidate like me with no money gets any chance of being president is to go and meet the people of Iowa and New Hampshire, and that's what I've done.
I don't think this election can be about who said what four years ago. People know that I speak my mind. People know that I say what I think and I'm not a scripted candidate.
But if you think that a Washington candidate who is careful about every poll and every focus group is going to be able to beat George Bush, I don't think that's true.
I think this election is really not about who said what four years ago or six years or eight years ago. What this election is about is who's going to be able to take on George Bush, whether we need a new face in the Democratic party or not. And I think we do.
WOODRUFF: I hear you, Governor. But did you put your foot in your mouth when you said that?
DEAN: Had I known then what I know now about the Iowa caucuses, of course I wouldn't have said that. But you learn.
I've been campaigning for two years in Iowa. I know Iowa. And I appreciate the caucus system, because I couldn't do what I'm doing without the caucuses.
But, you know, here's the juxtaposition of this. These are a bunch of Washington politicians pulling out who said what four or five or six or eight years ago. What about the twelve Iowans who were wounded in Iraq or the nine Americans that were killed yesterday? I think that's what we ought to be discussing.
I think what we ought to be discussing is how we're going to get jobs back in this country, how we're going to have health insurance for all Americans.
I'm a little tired of the gotcha politics of this campaign. I understand politics is a tough business. But we've got to have positive-we can't beat George Bush without having a positive agenda. And it can't be about who said what four years ago.
WOODRUFF: But this, as you know, was uncovered by a reporter going through material in these interviews, not by one of your opponents.
DEAN: I don't know who it was recovered by. And I don't care who it was recovered by.
What I care about is how we're going to deal with Iraq, how we're going to have a foreign policy that allows America to retain the moral leadership of the world that we've had since World War I, how we're going to have jobs back in this country.
I saw this morning that we've created 1,000 jobs in the last month. It seems to me that we were promised something like 300,000 jobs a month. That is a problem for the next president of the United States.
WOODRUFF: Governor, even before these quotes in this Canadian program emerged, today the New York Times, front page story, Adam Nagourney reports interviewing a number of people across the state of Iowa, at least two of them, two different women saying-these are people who liked you, were planning to vote for you, now they're having second thoughts. One women said she heard you in the debate on Sunday talk about balancing the budget. She said you came across as cocky. Another woman said she was having second thoughts.
What do you think about these people who were with you, but now are looking elsewhere?
DEAN: Well, of course, we'd rather have those two voters be with us. But I'm sure that we can find two other voters that maybe would switch the other way.
People are going to change their minds. People are going to make up their minds to the best of their ability, and I understand that. Some people are going to like me, some people aren't.
If you want a candidate who's willing to fight, who's not scripted, who's not willing to be put in every position by the focus groups and the polls, then I'm your guy.
If you want a Washington politician who's going to argue about who said what four years ago or six year ago, then you should vote for somebody else. I don't have a problem with that.
All I want to do is tell you this: I think this party needs new leadership. I don't think we're going to beat George Bush with the same old same old from Washington. And I think we've got to be willing to stand up to George Bush, and that's what I've done for two years.
WOODRUFF: Another one of those Canadian television programs, this one in 1998, you talked about the good and the bad of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group. Today pro-Israeli groups are saying there's nothing good about Hamas.
Was that a misstatement?
DEAN: No. That one-of course I oppose Hamas. Hamas is a terrorist group, which I said, if you read the whole quote in the 1998 interview. Of course I support Israel. Israel has a very special relationship with the United States.
This is just more attacks-“Oh, he's anti-Israel, he's Newt Gingrich, he's George McGovern.” This stuff has got to stop.
Of course I support Israel. Of course I think Hamas is a terrorist group. If you read the quote, what you'll discover was I was talking about what might happen if Hamas took from Yasser Arafat, who is also a person who we ought not to be dealing with, and we're not dealing with.
I support Israel, period.
We've got to stop this gotcha stuff. We've got to get beyond this and start talking about jobs, about health insurance, about education, about what we're going to do in Iraq.
Those are the issues of the campaign, not who said what six, four, eight, 10 years ago.
WOODRUFF: Governor, I hear what you're saying about stopping the gotcha stuff, as you put it. But would you acknowledge that there have been some moments, a number of moments in the recent weeks on the campaign trail, when you've had a hard time making yourself understood, when your words have become the story, rather than your message, the message you want to get out?
DEAN: I understand that everybody likes the gotcha stuff.
DEAN: We are in the last few weeks of a primary campaign, a caucus campaign in Iowa. I would like to go into that campaign with a positive message. It's about jobs. It's about health insurance. It's, frankly, about a candidate who doesn't come from Washington, who says what he thinks.
Tom Harkin, when he announced that he was going to support me, paid me the highest compliment that I think you can pay: He said he thought that I was like a modern Harry Truman.
Harry Truman said what he thought. He wasn't focus grouped. He wasn't scripted by polls. He did some incredibly courageous things for America, such as integrate the armed forces in 1948 when people in the North and people in the South all thought that was a bad thing to do.
Harry Truman is my role model for president, and I hope to be as much like him as I possibly can.
WOODRUFF: So to the people who say that they wonder if Howard Dean's ready for prime time because of these statements that you then have to go back and explain, you say what?
DEAN: I say the reason I have to go back and explain them is because a lot of people are digging through what I say. And what I'm interested in is talking about the future. Ask me what my position is on any issue, I'll tell you what it is.
But I would rather talk about the future than something I said four years ago or eight years ago or six years ago.
WOODRUFF: All right. Governor Howard Dean, thank you very much for joining us from New Hampshire today.
DEAN: Thanks, Judy. Thank you.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. Thanks a lot.
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