Howard Dean - Remarks at Gridiron Club Luncheon
Gridiron Luncheon at Gannett Headquarters, March 6, 2004
I want to talk about the election, and being serious about it, it will be a political speech, and then we can get into whatever youd like after I get done. I think John Kerry is going to be the next president of the United States, and Im going to tell you why. It has to do with two things. If youre the president and you cannot manage two things, you have an enormous problem. One is foreign policy, and the other is the economy. So let me just briefly look at the record.
Now many of you correctly chronicled that our candidacy was helped enormously by my opposition to the Iraq war. But I think that most people missed the story about why that was. I think most people have not yet written the story about why thats going to be a big election issue in the fall. I supported George Bushs father when he went into the Iraq the first time. I supported President Clinton when he went into Kosovo, I supported President Clinton when he went into Bosnia, and I supported this President Bush when he went into Afghanistan, for a variety of reasons.
However, this time I chose not to support the president when he went into Iraq for the following reasons.
He made the case to the American people that Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were somehow connected, and that somehow, Al Qaeda had something to do with Saddam and that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. Since this is a group of media people, Ill share an interesting fact with you, which I read, I think a story in the New York Times or Washington Post about a media group in Washington which had looked at how many people in America believed that Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda had a connection, that Saddam actually had something to do with 9/11 - which of course is not true, which the president has now admitted that theres no evidence, and the Secretary of State said there was no evidence for that. Eighty percent of people who looked at Fox News believed that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. Fifty percent of CNN viewers believed that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. And 30% of NPR listeners believed that Saddam had something to do with 9/11.
I will not make editorial comment about this, but it gives my heart a lightness to know that those are the numbers, because I get most of my news from NPR.
Now the point of this is, that it wasnt true. Most Americans now believe that it wasnt true. The president said, in a State of the Union address a year ago, that Iraq was importing uranium from Niger - that was not true. The vice president said that Iraq was about to acquire nuclear weapons - that was not true. The secretary of defense said he knew exactly where the weapons of mass destruction were - right near Tikrit and Baghdad, he said that a year ago. That was not true.
There are two things that are going to cause this president enormous trouble. One of them is not opposition to the war from people who are pacifists. The two things are, first, one of the greatest fears I had about going to war in Iraq are now coming true. People always ask me, Well, dont you think the people in Iraq are better off now that Saddam is gone? Dont you think America is safer now that Saddam is gone? I said no, I didnt think we were safer. That was an opportunity for some of my opponents in the race and other folks to criticize me, but the truth is, weve lost over 100 soldiers and many wounded since then, had orange alerts, had F-16 jet fighters escorting foreign commercial airliners into American airspace for the first time in a long time.
So clearly were not safer. But in the last week or so, we now see - I believe that the greatest foreign policy concern ought not to be how fast we can get out of Iraq, but whether we can stay there.
Because what we are about to see in Iraq is one of the two things I feared the most, and maybe both of them. One is that Al Qaeda - which was not in Iraq, contrary to the administrations statements before we went - is clearly there now, attacking not just American troops but also Iraqis. And the other problem, is should we withdraw prematurely, we may have either a fundamentalist Shiite regime, which will have, because of religious connections, potential sympathy with Iran; or chaos and civil war. Every day that goes by in Iraq, we move closer to that.
The pressure to leave prematurely during an election year is enormous. And the neoconservatives that got this president into Iraq on the grounds that they were going to realign the Middle East are looking like the uninformed folks that I think they are.
If we leave Iraq, having lost 500 soldiers and more, 2900 of our kids maimed, many permanently, and Iraq disintegrates into civil war - not only have we created a national security problem, but the entire doctrine of the notion of the realignment of the Middle East by unilateral action will lack credibility.
Thats one problem. The more serious problem the president has with Iraq is that it appears he wasnt truthful. Now we dont know that he wasnt truthful because he was misinformed by intelligence; or the intelligence was structured in some way, by somebody in between, the CIA, and it got to his desk; or he deliberately concealed facts or skewed them - we dont know the answer to those questions. It would be nice to know the answers before the election.
The American people will tolerate a great deal in the president. One thing they will not tolerate is misinforming the American people, particularly if it turns out to be deliberate. That is why the Iraq war will continue to be an issue in the campaign. Not because were at war, and people object to going to war - there have always been people who object to going to every war. But because the American people will not tolerate finding out after the fact that they were not told the truth.
I want to turn to the economy for a moment. There has been a great deal of talk, and some backfilling after the administration said we were going to have 2.6 million new jobs. We find out now that not only werent we going to have 2.6 million new jobs, we created, I think, 60,000 in February, and the number in January has just been reduced by 23,000.
The unemployment rate, increases in Wall Street, and improvements in the GNP, even of the nature that we had in the third quarter last year, have no effect on the election. What does have an effect on the election is whether your neighbor has a job, or whether theyre still working part-time for six dollars an hour because thats the best they can do; whether your kids have health insurance; or whether theres any hope for health insurance or jobs in the future. And the fact is, not only are we not better off than we were on January 20, 2001, were not better off than we were three or four months ago, despite promises to the contrary.
We have a chairman of the Federal Reserve who has done something, to me, which is just absolutely stunning. Alan Greenspan, who has served this country with honor and very well for a long time, in the 1990s, was part of an attempt to fix the Social Security problem and help craft a solution - perhaps it was the late 80s - help craft a solution where we would raise payroll taxes some, and Social Security would be extended. Recently he suggested we would have to cut Social Security benefits, and recommended that perhaps we ought to extend the presidents tax cuts.
The combination of those recommendations is as follows. Raise the most regressive tax in America, which is the payroll tax, on the vast majority of Americans - because you pay that tax until you make $86,000 a year - then, a few years later, cut Social Security benefits for those same people who paid in in the Eighties in order to save the system - and do it all because the deficits are so large, and then recommend extending the deficits by making permanent the presidents tax cuts - the largest deficit in the history of the United States of America.
So we have in Washington an administration, apparently backed by the chairman of the Federal Reserve, who is willing boldly to say that we ought to preside over one of the greatest shifts of wealth and redistributions of wealth in this country, in history. From middle-class people, to people like Ken Lay who ran Enron.
That is not a winning election strategy. And that is why John Kerry will be the next president of the United States.
Id much rather be saying, of course, that somebody else would be president of the United States.
I fear for the future of this country. As Doug pointed out, Im a fiscal conservative. In my state, we did cut the income tax. But during the Nineties, we did not make the mistake that so many governors around this country made, by giving huge tax cuts because all of the money was coming in. Many of you know Im a physician, but most of you dont know that I have a background on Wall Street. And I knew that in a capitalist society, theres such a thing as a business cycle. And when the money comes pouring in, if you spend it, you are in pretty serious trouble the next time the business cycle turns down.
So what we did during the Nineties, as that money came pouring in, is that we did not give a big substantial second round of tax cuts; we cut some. We put a lot of money aside. We paid off a quarter of the states debt between 1996 and 2003. We went from the worst bond rating in New England to the very best. And when the bad times hit, we did not cut higher education, so our college tuitions didnt do what theyre doing all over the rest of the country. We did not cut kids off health care. We did not cut K-12 education so our property taxes did not do what property taxes are doing all over the rest of the country. And we still balanced the budget and had a surplus.
I dont believe that you can ever have jobs in a country with the kind of budget deficits that we have in this country. People dont invest in countries whose balance sheets begin to look like Argentinas. People dont invest in countries where they know the value of the dollar is going down because half-trillion dollar deficits ultimately drive down the currency, and raise inflation rates. The law of economics is not political. And if you make short-term political decisions in order to buffer yourself for the next election, you dig the hole deeper for the next administration. And if its yours, you still have to deal with it.
I have never lived through deficits of a half-trillion dollars. I have enormous faith in this country, and I can tell you from personal experience, having just finished a presidential campaign, the people of this country are extraordinary people. And they are in a panic.
I learned an enormous amount coming from a small Northeastern state, who benefited from NAFTA and free trade, both of which I supported - I supported NAFTA and I supported Chinas entry into the WTO. And we benefited from that -- our trade with Canada went up 400% as a result of the free trade agreement which was the predecessor of NAFTA.
The first time I went to Iowa, I learned that people didnt trust American corporations any more. If anybody here is from Iowa, they do not thump the chair and carry on and shout and yell. They just quietly and despairingly told me, in my first trip, about twenty people at the most, in the backroom of some cafe, that they didnt feel valued by their employers any more, because they didnt think American corporations were American. They thought theyd move their jobs anywhere in the world, in order to maximize the bottom line. They had no loyalty left to people whod worked there for twenty years.
Now, I know Sen. Cochran comes from a rural state - so do I. I dont want to speak for Mississippi - because I hadnt done a lot of campaigning there (laughter) because you know, its a late primary. The former governor of Mississippi is a good friend of mine, Ronnie Musgrove - I said Ronnie, can I come down and help you in any way? And he said You can help me a lot - please campaign really hard for me right up there in Vermont. (Laughter)
But the economic pattern in much of rural America is this: relatively small town, some agriculture, under threat because of enormous corporate pressure, driving middle-class people off the farms because they cant make a middle-class living any more. Small businesses in town under enormous threat because of big corporations putting stores ten miles out of town that suck all the small businesses away. And then one, or two maybe, plants from some multinational corporation that has the best-paying jobs in town, and the best benefits in town. Those plants are disappearing. All over the Midwest. I knew when I started this that the battleground in this country was going to be the Midwest, and the most important state in this election is not going to be Florida, its going to be Ohio. Because they have lost 275,000 of the best-paying jobs in America, and theyre never coming back.
We have an enormous problem in this country. And Im not here to beard the Washington establishment, but Im going to tell you -- people in this town do not get it. They dont understand it -- and people in many places on the East Coast and the West Coast dont get it. Because the bulk of our manufacturing is not all concentrated in the Midwest, but the economies in the Midwest are the least diversified. And they depend heavily -- the best-quality jobs in this country, between the Rockies and the Alleganies, depend on big corporations paying those good wages, much better than the local small businessperson can pay, and better than the farmer can make. And were losing that.
Its not a Democratic or a Republican problem. But the solutions offered by this administration are taking us backwards; and the solutions offered by the Democrats before that were not complete. My view of globalization - I think redoing our free trade agreements are essential to the economic success of this country. And I am a big supporter of trade. We only negotiated half of the deal when we globalized. Globalization is an immovable and irresistable force and it is not going to be turned back. When we signed those trade agreements, without labor protection, without environmental protection, without human rights protection - yes, I know there were side agreements that arent enforced - we set the seeds for the exodus of American jobs.
You can make all the arguments you want about relative productivity and moving cheaper jobs than you can do cheaper later on in other places and lower wages and well keep the good ones. I remember Bill Clinton standing up and saying this - Were going to have the jobs that are information-based and education-based and theyre going to pay good wages - now you know whats going overseas as well as I do. Outsourcing of engineering jobs, outsourcing of call centers, outsourcing of all the things we were doing five years ago in my state in the most poor rural areas to try to keep some kind of jobs in America as we were losing our manufacturing base.
I dont think we ought to look at this as a way of pushing protectionism, because protectionism is a mistake. But I think we ought to look at our history. My favorite philosophical saying is Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The history of this country, in my view, and I realize theres others in this room wholl disagree with me, is that were the greatest country on the face of the earth for a lot of reasons, but the most important reason in my view is that we have the biggest middle class in the world. Middle-class people vote. Theyre patriotic, they serve in the military. They believe the system works for them and they believe it works for their children. And the reason that we have the biggest middle class in the world, is because over a hundred years ago the trade union movement made it possible to work in a factory, and work in a mine, and now in a school or a nursing home, and begin to live a middle-class lifestyle and hope that your children could do better than you.
So we had in this country the right balance of reward for investment of capital and reward for investment of labor, thanks to the labor movement. And yes, of course, theres always conflict - this is a dynamic economy. That doesnt exist in much of the rest of the world. We dont have problems trading with Europe. We get in big fights on the front page over computers, or Brie, or whatever. We dont have problems trading with Canada - we get in fights with them over pine imports and those kinds of things. The problems we have are the enormous exports in our jobs to developing countries where the wages are not just low, but were essentially subsidizing the removal of American corporations elsewhere, because were exporting our pollution - because they throw it in the river in China, and Ive seen it, and you cant do that here. Were exporting lack of labor protections, not adequate safety standards, not adequate enforcement of child labor. I cant understand for the life of me why we import soccer balls sewed together by 12-year-olds working eight-hour days, six and a half days a week, in Indonesia, when we dont allow that to happen here. It makes a difference. And what you are seeing, and the desperation, in the middle of this country, comes from the fact that people dont have any hope.
Our campaign was talked about as a campaign of anger. And there was some of that, and I think we had a right to be angry about whats happened to middle-class people in this country. But it was really a campaign of hope. The methods that I gave people was that we were going to empower people to take back their government from forces they couldnt understand any more. It was easy to blame Washington, but it was really more than that. It was the confluence of government and corporations weve seen before - under William McKinley and Herbert Hoover, when the balance that makes this country work properly wasnt working any more, because there wasnt adequate protection for ordinary people.
I flayed all my Democratic opponents over No Child Left Behind. They couldnt figure it out. Theyre all good people. One of them is going to be the next president of the United States. But No Child Left Behind raised property taxes all over America, and it took local control away from peoples schools. I knew that was going to happen, because I was a governor, and as soon as the school boards started to complain to me about it, I knew the taxpayers werent far behind.
This city, and the people in it, both Republicans and Democrats, have got to understand the extraordinary pain thats going on in America. And youve got to stop paying lip service to it. Because theyre beyond that. And the things that you saw in our campaign show, more than anything else, that people want to hope again. They want to be empowered; they want really to have local control, not just people wholl talk about it, but then take it away when they get into power because, after all, local control is good when somebody else is in power, but not when youre in power in Washington.
What they want is their community back; they want their country back that they believed in, that was a fair country, where middle-class people could make a decent living and not worry about whether their kids could afford to go to college any more. Thats what they want. And the party in power is always the party thats got the toughest problem defending the record. Things are tough out there. Things are tough not just for factory workers who are struggling; its also tough for middle-class people who arent directly threatened but are worried about the future for their children, as they see engineering jobs go overseas on the Internet, and see manufacturing jobs and plants go overseas as well.
So I think we are going to have a change, but I think we have to have a fundamental change, not just a change in party, and not just a change in who controls the Congress - although, of course, as a loyal Democrat, Im much in favor of all of that. What this country wants real change. America is a conservative country with a small c - they want change, but they dont want too much change too fast. I think were approaching a point, as we saw under McKinley and under Herbert Hoover, where the stresses in society are becoming so great, that change - at a faster rate, which is always more difficult, more contentious and more divisive - is whats going to be necessary in order to put this country back on the path of being the greatest country on the face of the earth, and being the moral leader of the free world - a position which we held indisputably from World War I until we went into Iraq unilaterally.
I think that what our campaign showed is that there really is desire for change, that people have responded to the lack of responsiveness here and other places, by simply giving up and not voting. And I submit to you that for the good of the country, if we continue to decide that its better to be in power even if 50% of the people dont vote in this country, we will have a second-class country before too long. Thats not tolerable to me, its not tolerable to anybody in this room. This country needs to continue to be the beacon of hope that it is for the free world; and it will only be so with strong leadership that stands up for whats right - better to make a mistake and believe in what youre doing, than it is to cynically manipulate facts and talk to people without solving their problems.
And the last thing I want to say is this. I spoke to a group of supporters in Manchester, New Hampshire during the primary. It was a fun rally, a lot of hooting and hollering... maybe a little screaming. And one of the supporters I had said, We believe in you, Howard! I turned and looked at him and I said, I dont want you to believe in me, I want you to believe in yourselves. Our job is to get people to believe in themselves. And right now, they dont believe in themselves; they dont believe in Washington; they dont believe in American business any more. This election is about who can make them believe again.
Thanks very much.
Sam Donaldson: As you know, Governor, the Republicans will paint Senator Kerry as a man who betrayed his fellow veterans when they came back from the war, a serial flipflopper on the issues, soft on defense, nothing but a Massachusetts liberal and maybe more. How does he fight back? Give him some advice. What kind of campaign does he run against that?
Howard Dean: Well, I learned long ago that you never give advice in the media. So I will not give him any advice - the advice Ill give him, if he asks for it, will be in private.
But I will just comment generally on that sort of campaign which we know is rife in American politics. My conclusion is, in the end that stuff doesnt matter unless people believe it. And its why the news business has become more entertainment-oriented and less news-oriented - because theres a side of Americans that want to believe all that stuff - thats what gossip is about - we want to believe those things we hear. But we know in the end we make judgements. Thats actually the great thing about the American Constitution and the First Amendment - is that we all get every piece of information we can possibly think of, and then we all sit down and make a judgement.
I actually have enormous faith in the American people and voters. I really do. People would say, Arent you mad? Didnt the American people make a mistake, they didnt vote for you - I dont know if they made a mistake or not. But I do know that they were able to figure out, through all the voting that went on, that their choice - who was not me, but it was somebody else - and I think that a lot of people, even though those who are not articulate or educated, nonetheless have an ability to synthesize fact, even though it may be subconscious, and mostly make the right decision.
So I know theres going to be all kinds of things said by both sides about each other - believe me, we will portray the president as as heartless as Senator Kerry may be liberal. But the truth is that the American people are going to look at the results. In the end, theyre going to - unless were defenseless, which were certainly not going to be - in the end theyre going to say, Do I have a job? Is there hope for my children? Whats happening to my kids college education? Whats happening to my property taxes? Whats happening in my schools? Those are the things - and Are we safe? - those are the things that really matter in the end.
Herb Klein: Governor, Im Herb Klein - Id like to ask you about jobs issue - you didnt mention productivity as a problem. What is your answer to outsourcing and productivity and production of jobs in the few years ahead?
HD: Well, first of all I think its going to be very difficult to stop outsourcing over the Internet, because the Internet is unpoliceable, essentially. I think that manufacturing is not so difficult. I believe, and I have for a long time, that we ought to reopen the trade agreements, using the full power of the fact that the United States has 25% of the worlds economy, and insist that environmental rights, human rights and labor rights be recognized. That is, if its okay for the automobile industry to move their plants from Detroit to Mexico, it has to be okay for the UAW to organize that plant. Because thats what preserves the balance that is so essential in a capitalist society between what you get for your investment of labor and what you get for your investment of capital.
This is one of the things thats always amazed me - some people really are far-sighted, and we can all think of examples of far-sighted people, both in government and in the business world. But its so often that people look at the short-term benefit without thinking of the long-term situation. It is better for all of us in a society like this to have a widespread perception of fairness, that you get properly rewarded, you get treated well by your boss, and paid properly, and so forth and so on. That benefits everybody.
Let me give you a perfect example of what happens when that doesnt go right. The meat industry blocked, through the administration, the notion that you were not going to allow downer cows into your meat supply. And they successfully blocked that - I think it was Senator Harkins amendment, Im not positive. Three months later came the mad cow disease, the meat industry lost $4.5 billion, peoples work weeks went from 60 hours to 15 hours and farmers couldnt sell their cattle for a while. Four and a half billion dollars that cost us. If youd passed the rule, I cant tell you what the cost would have been, but it certainly wouldnt have been anything close to four and a half billion dollars. Consumer protection is very good for industry, but they fight it all the time.
I believe that in the long run, trade is benefited by having somewhat higher prices in America if everybody knows that the rules are fair. Im not asking for a universal minimum wage - that clearly makes no sense at all, even if you could enforce it. But what I am asking for is to eliminate the incentives of moving a plant - lets just say from Vermont to China - because in Vermont youve got to pay a million dollars a year to properly dispose of your toxic by-products, and in China you put them in the river.
If we dont do that, whats going to happen in this country is that the living standards are going to continue to erode. The perceptions of the American middle class is going to be to continue to lose faith not only in their government but in their employers. Thats not a good thing for this country. We want working people to think that their employers have their best interests at heart. We know theyre not going to get 100% - theres always going to be - your business is to put the outliers on the headlines, and complain about it; but right now I can tell you that there is enormous loss of faith in this country in our leadership institutions which are in the business community, in corporations and the media.
Its in our best interest to fix that, and thats what I dont see happening.
Q: During your campaign, you said that you had revised an earlier position that there would have to be cuts in Social Security and Medicare. And you said the reason you changed your mind about that was that Bill Clinton had shown how a growing economy can erase deficits. Do you still think that we can grow our way out of the shortfalls in Social Security and Medicare funding that are lying ahead?
HD: I think that we have to get rid of the presidents tax cuts. The presidents tax cuts have clearly not benefited middle-class Americans. Because the presidents tax cut was really a service cut passed on to middle class people who then made up the difference in college tuitions, higher educational costs through their property tax, and health care premiums - which go up a lot anyway, but which were exacerbated by the fact that a million and a half people, including 500,000 children, were cut off Medicaid in the last three years. Those things exacerbate the personal cost that middle-class taxpayers pay. I think we ought to get rid of the presidents tax cut... If you do that, you begin to eliminate the deficit. If you do that, you then begin to restore confidence in the economy where people might actually make investments in the economy that generate jobs, not simply invest in the stock market, which doesnt necessarily generate any jobs.
And so what Bill Clinton showed in the last few years when the surpluses were coming in - if a lot of people go to work, they all pay payroll taxes. And they werent paying payroll taxes before. If wages go up, they pay - since the payroll tax is a fixed percentage of wages - more into the Social Security system. So before we start cutting benefits, I think it is only fair to go back to the system that we had before.
I have frequently said, and Ill say it again - the vast majority of Americans would gladly pay the same taxes they paid when Bill Clinton was president if only they could have the same economy they had when Bill Clinton was president. And were not going to have that economy with preposterous deficits as far as the eye can see, and no spending discipline whatsoever in the Congress of the United States.
Q: If you will indulge me a two-part question, which I think will require only short answers. Now that youve had a couple weeks to contemplate your candidacy, is there any one thing that you would change - either something you did that you wish you hadnt, or something you didnt do that you wish you had? And second, if your phone rings tomorrow and its John Kerry and he says, Howard, who should I pick as my vice president, whats your answer?
HD: The answer to the first one is yes, and Im not going to tell you what they are; and the answer to the second is that if John Kerry asks, Ill give him my advice, but not you. (Laughter)
Q: With great respect I ask you, how do you think were going to get out of Iraq? How is it going to happen or not happen?
HD: I think its going to take some time. I really do. And I said this on the campaign trail. Now that were there, I think we ought to try to turn Iraq into a democratic state. And that is going to require a long enough stay so that it cant be done with American troops alone - we need foreign troops in Iraq. George Bushs father, who I have an enormous amount of respect for his diplomatic skills, had well over a hundred thousand foreign troops in Iraq. Many of them were Arabic-speaking or from Muslim nations. We need a president who will be able to directly relate, with respect, to the leaders that this president, clearly, has not shown much respect for. We need to put together a real coalition and turn Iraq into a multinational reconstruction and not a unilateral occupation, with targets on American soldiers.
My proposal during the campaign was not different. Bring in foreign troops, with a new president who will have a different relationship with our traditional allies than this president does. Replace all the National Guard and reserves who have no business being in Iraq for this kind of a mission whatsoever, especially on an extended tour of duty. Replace one of the two divisions we have there, and then prepare for a longer stay than this president envisions. Because you cannot turn Iraq into a democratic institution with simply an election, although I happen to think elections are important, and I think we should do them sooner rather than later.
The way you turn a country with 7,000 years of history with no democratic institutions whatsoever into a democratic country is not just to have elections. Youve got to have the institutions and the rule of law, and that includes a court system which even the president of the country, and the religious leaders, have to obey. That is a foreign concept in Iraq, and in most of the Middle East. And we have to find a way to do that, and its going to take a significant amount of time. The American people are not going to have the patience to stay in Iraq unilaterally for that degree of time. So I think foreign troops are important.
I would try to find a compromise to have elections to elect the Iraqi Council. I know the presidents trying to do that. Because the Iraqi Council has some good people on it, but also some not so good people on it. But if theyre going to write a constitution, it has to be an Iraqi constitution, and the Iraqis have to believe that it was not imposed by America. So some sort of elections of that council are important.
I would hold firm, as Ambassador Bremer is doing, to the belief that the new constitution must have protection for women and minorities in it. There are four major groups, as you know - the Sunni, the Shiite, the Kurds, and Id throw in the Chaldeans, the largest Christian population in Iraq. And that is the downfall of most of the kinds of countries that we run into trouble with, because of their governance mechanisms, they dont have the great genius of our constitution, which is significant protection for minorities. And Im not just talking about ethnic minorities, Im also talking about the notion that if 40% of the people want X and 60% of the people want Y, theres a gradual process to make that change - a tyranny of the majority, as Thomas Jefferson wrote, is not something that is given free reign in our constitution, nor should it be in the Iraqi constitution, and there will be significant conflct over that.
Its why, during the campaign, my constituency, most of whom wanted to get out of Iraq - I would never set a timetable for leaving Iraq. Because the minute you do that, in that part of the world, they just wait you out. We have to be prepared to stay as long as it takes in order to get that constitution written so that it will protect minorities and women. Otherwise, Iraqi democracy will dissolve the moment the last American troop leaves.
So we have gotten ourselves into something that is much deeper than the president and his folks ever contemplated, which is why I didnt think we should have gone in in the first place. We are there now; I think its incumbent on us, within the limits of our reasonable resources in terms of both troops and money, to try to make the best of the situation. I think a premature pullout will, in the long run, cost us more money.
Q: Governor, how much of a role did the media play in building you up in the beginning, and how much of a role did the media play in bringing you down at the end?
HD: Um... actually, surprisingly little. At some point, Ill give my critique of the media, but itll be long after the election, so as not to be (Laughter) so as not to be accused of sour grapes. But the media certainly played a role in building me up. But it wasnt so much building me up, because I - we got a few puff pieces in some early magazines, but - most of the early publicity we got was not particularly favorable, but it was publicity, you know, the old Spell my name right and thats all you need to do. Im not quite a devotee of that philosophy, but I think that we certainly did get press. Frankly, there was a vacuum in the campaign - we were exciting, you know, we were people that sort of drew the press as we drew supporters. And then we got a long spate of very unfavorable press, helped generously along by our five major opponents.
But my philosophy, as I said before, is that I have enormous faith in American voters. I think they see through and make their own judgements about it. The one thing that really did hurt was the 693 times the scream speech was played - but that didnt really have anything to do with our descent, because wed already come in third in Iowa. And everybody who had half a brain who was figuring this race out knew that whoever won Iowa was probably going to win the whole thing. If we had won Iowa we certainly would have won the whole thing. We had a twenty-point lead in New Hampshire. And John Kerry did win Iowa and he did win the whole thing.
So do I think that the media portrayed us in an unfavorable light unfairly from time to time? Sure, but I dont think it had that much of an effect on the election, I really dont. I think that we received a lot of scrutiny as the frontrunner, and in the end, there were some mistakes that we made, which Im not going to go into here, and some very smart things that Senator Kerrys campaign did. Certainly, the decision to move from concentrating in New Hampshire and trying to overcome a thirty-point lead, to moving into Iowa, was probably the key decision, the best decision that anybody made, of any candidate in any campaign this year.
Ive got lots to say about the media, but none of it has to do with much bitterness about the race. I really - I get this serenity every time election day comes along, because I know Ive done everything I can, and its in the hands of the boss, and the boss is the voters, and as long as we have that system I have a fair amount of confidence in the country.
Q: In the last presidential election, Ralph Nader received over 22,000 votes in New Hampshire, and George Bush won by 7,000. We would probably not be talking about Florida or a contested election had Ralph Nader not been involved in the last presidential election. Now hes involved in the next one. Do you have a comment about Ralph Nader, or what would you say to him at this moment?
HD: Again, Im going to fall back on the principle that I have, that when I give advice to people it will not be through the news media. Ive had conversations with Ralph Nader, I expect I may have some more, and those conversations will be private.
Thanks very much.