Larry King Live
Tacoma, WA, February 3, 2004
BYLINE: Larry King, Wolf Blitzer
Interviews with Howard Dean, John Edwards.
KING: Let's go to Tacoma, Washington. Standing by is Howard Dean who seems to be our first guest every one of these primary nights. Howard, how would you describe your feelings thus far tonight?
HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We feel fine. We knew that we didn't put any money into these states in advertising. And we had good field operations, but that's not enough.
And I'm out here in Washington. We're trying to win Washington, Michigan and Maine. And that's the next battle.
This is a long haul. We got 10 percent of the delegates decided after today. And we got 90 percent to go. So we're feeling good. We're feeling upbeat. And on to Michigan and Washington State and Maine.
KING: Governor, what state disappointed you tonight, if any?
DEAN: Well, we didn't expect any wins, so we can't be disappointed. It appears that we might have had a shot at getting some delegates in Delaware, and we didn't. And that, I think, is too bad.
But, you know, basically, we put a lot of energy into these states that are coming up, into Wisconsin as well. And this is a long, long haul.
Ten percent of the delegates decided. You know, this is going to go on for a long time. You know, we wouldn't want to disappoint Florida. They didn't get to have their votes counted in 2000. They're going to count in the primary in 2004. And that's all of the way down to March 17th, I think.
KING: So you can say you're definitely going to go the bigees, California, New York, Florida?
DEAN: Yes. We believe that we can compete.
Look, this is an election about whether you want change or not. Senator Kerry is a fine person, but he's-I think The Washington Post reported he took more special interest money than anybody else in the Senate for the last 15 years.
That's not the kind of fundamental change that I'm looking for or any of the people that are supporting me are looking for.
We want health insurance for all Americans. I can do that, and I've already done that for everybody under 18.
I can balance budgets. Nobody else has done that in this race.
I want to give Americans the choice they deserve. And I think they ought to have a choice for fundamental institutional change in this country so that ordinary people can take back their government.
KING: On reflection, Governor, what happened? What went wrong from four or five weeks ago, the front covers of Time and Newsweek, an obvious front runner and Gore supporting you and Bill Bradley? What happened?
DEAN: I think there's an enormous amount of resistance to institutional change in this country. A lot of people have stakes in leaving things the way they are. I don't think things can continue the way they are.
Enormous corporations have the power. You get senators saying they're going to change it, but the truth is, they get their money from the same places.
Eighty-nine percent of our money comes from ordinary Americans. And they're the ones that I think really are taking it on the chin in the Bush administration. I don't think the inside-the-Beltway folks have helped them.
One thing that people understand about me is I'll stand up when I think I'm right, whether it's popular or not. John Kerry, John Edwards, good people, all supported the war, they all supported No Child Left Behind.
Harry Truman used to say if you run a Republican against a Republican, the Republican always wins.
We need fundamental change in this country, institutional change. We understand there's going to be a lot of resistance to that, but I think we've got to do that.
KING: So those numbers of four weeks ago were exaggerated, you think?
DEAN: I don't know about that.
KING: Well, I mean, what happened to...
DEAN: What numbers?
KING: When you were way ahead in the polls and then you tell us institutional change is hard. But four weeks ago...
DEAN: No. What I mean by that is, if you remember what happened is that all the other candidates decided that we were too far out in front, they all walloped us, all the media went after us with scrutiny.
Now, I'm not complaining about that. I think if you're going to run for president, you better expect a lot of pressure. And if you can't take it, you shouldn't be in the race.
But that is in fact what happened. That's what made the difference. And now we're back, and we're not quitting.
KING: Bob Woodward, do you have a question for Howard Dean? Does Bob Woodward have a question?
BOB WOODWARD, WASHINGTON POST: Yes, sir.
Governor, my question is, if you put a time line on this, your decline really could be marked with the Al Gore endorsement. As you look back on that, do you think maybe that was a mistake? Would you reconsider that? With this theme that you're the new person, you don't represent the old establishment, and certainly Gore did, if you'd said no to Gore, would you be in a better position?
DEAN: Al Gore's has given the two best speeches in this campaign: one last March talking about the war and the president not being candid with us, and the other in September talking about the loss of our democracy.
I actually do think the endorsement of Al Gore began the decline, not for the reason that you said, because the establishment in Washington really realized that I might be the nominee and they did not like that.
The media folks didn't like it, the other folks in the race didn't like it, and they did everything they could to make sure we weren't.
Now look, I think the voters-I have a lot of faith in the voters in this country. I'm going to present them with a real alternative to change: health insurance for every American, just like we have for everybody under 18 in my state; balanced budgets, which nobody in Washington seems to have any interest in of any sort; early child intervention. We dropped our child abuse rate by 43 percent in my state. That's a real record that somebody can run on. I'm going to offer that to Americans. And I hope they take it.
KING: We're waiting-in a couple of moments, we imagine we'll be hearing from Senator Joe Lieberman. The report is that he will pull out of the race tonight. As soon as he makes that statement, we'll go to it.
Bob Dole, do you have anything to say to Howard Dean?
BOB DOLE ®, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Howard, you're a good person. I remember the time we flew back together from the funeral of the governor of South Dakota.
DEAN: Yes, and I thank you for that. I remembered that. And I hope Sheila's doing well. She was a wonderful human being. And she did a great job for you.
DOLE: On health care, right.
But, you know, it's a lot more fun winning. I've been there, you've been there.
I don't have any questions. I think you're going to decide if you think it's still there. And I assume you must feel that way, though it's pretty tough when you don't-I don't know if you even finished third anywhere today. But that's your decision. You're a good person. And hang in there.
DEAN: Bob, I appreciate it very much. That means a lot to me.
DOLE: Better to have Al Gore's endorsement than mine, Howard.
KING: Wolf, do you have a question for Governor Dean?
BLITZER: Governor Dean, I spoke earlier today with Steve Grossman, your campaign chairman. He confirmed of the $42 million you've raised, you've already spent about $40 million, most of it on Iowa and New Hampshire, which didn't necessarily pay off. How bad is the financial situation you're facing right now?
DEAN: We're raising money. Our supporters really do want change in this country. We're getting a fair amount of money in over the Internet on a daily basis. And we're going to continue to fight. We can fight all the way through Super Tuesday. And we have a financial plan to do that.
KING: Governor, how are you going to do in Michigan Saturday?
DEAN: All I can tell you is we're going to do the very best we can. We're going to try to pick up some delegates there. You know, the momentum thing is helping Senator Kerry a lot. But again, here's a guy, who, as The Washington Post reported, took more special interest money than anybody in the Senate in the last 15 years.
I just-I think that people are really going to want to have a close look at his record. And I suspect he'll get the same kind of scrutiny that I did when I was the front-runner. And then we'll let the American people choose.
KING: Thanks, Governor.
Governor Howard Dean coming to us from Tacoma, Washington.
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