SPEAKERS: TIM RUSSERT, HOST
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF VERMONT
RUSSERT: We are in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this morning, the site of the February 17th Democratic primary. Our guest is Governor Howard Dean.
Governor, welcome back.
DEAN: Good morning, Tim. Nice to be back.
RUSSERT: Before we get to the Wisconsin primary, there are seven other primaries and caucuses this coming Tuesday. Let's look at the latest tracking polls for you and our viewers.
First, South Carolina: John Edwards, 24; John Kerry, 23; Howard Dean is at 8.
Oklahoma: John Kerry, 25; Wesley Clark, 23; John Edwards, 16; Howard Dean, 6.
Arizona: Kerry, 36; Clark, 24; Dean, 14.
Missouri: Kerry, 43; Edwards, 14; Dean, 8.
It looks as though you're in very tough shape for these coming primaries and caucuses on Tuesday.
DEAN: How the mighty have fallen.
RUSSERT: What happened?
DEAN: We spent a lot of money in Iowa and New Hampshire trying to win. We were trying to do what, essentially, John Kerry is now doing. We were planning on trying to get the huge momentum out of Iowa, and it didn't work. We took an enormous gamble, and it didn't work.
RUSSERT: You say you're a good manager, a fiscal conservative. How did you blow $40 million?
DEAN: What we decided to do, we had this enormous momentum created, of course, mostly by people like you and Time magazine and all that. And I knew all the time that voters are actually the people who get to decide who gets to be president, not the magazine covers.
But we had a huge amount of momentum. We really wanted to try to capitalize on the momentum that we had. And when things started going south after the campaign got really rough in Iowa -- because when you're the front-runner, of course, everybody's whacking you every day -- we got in a fight with Dick Gephardt. We both ended up third and fourth, instead of first and second.
RUSSERT: Do you regret spending all the money so quickly?
DEAN: Well, sure. I mean, actually, in retrospect, it's always easy. But I don't blame anybody in the campaign for that. I used to drive my campaign guys crazy by wanting to know exactly what they were doing. But the benefit now is that I signed off on all that stuff personally, so I don't have any thoughts that it was there fault, not mine. It was my fault. We knew what we were doing, we took the gamble, and it didn't pay off.
RUSSERT: Your campaign manager, Joe Trippi, how painful was it for you personally to remove him?
DEAN: I didn't remove him. I saw the headline up there, it says "Fires Trippi." Joe Trippi he wasn't fired. I wanted a strong organizer to come into the campaign. Joe was trying to do everything, and I wanted Joe to stay on, but Joe felt that he really didn't want to do that under those circumstances. I'm still hoping that at some point, he'll come back.
What we really are trying to do in this campaign is change the party and change the country. You know, I think we're at a time in history that's a lot like where we were when William McKinley was president, with enormous power in the trusts, or that when Herbert Hoover was president, with huge powers of business, scrunching ordinary people down. Middle-class people's wages are being pushed down, harder and harder to start a small business.
That's where I think we are now. And Trippi and I saw eye-to-eye ideologically exactly. I just thought we needed some horsepower in there to do some organizational stuff.
RUSSERT: There are seven big primaries and caucuses this Tuesday, as I mentioned. Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, had this to say: "After February 3rd," which is this Tuesday, "if you haven't won one of the nine contests, you need to rethink your candidacy."
Do you agree with that?
DEAN: Well, I've always, you know, as you may remember, in December, when we were just getting pounded by every other candidate, I asked Terry to step in because I thought, you know, it was getting kind of destructive. Terry decided to be neutral, so I suggest he still remain neutral.
RUSSERT: Someone you know very well, however, Andrew Stern, head of the Service Employees Union, one of your biggest supporters, told this to The Wall Street Journal Online: "If someone doesn't win someplace by February 3rd, they're through."
DEAN: Well, we probably won't win someplace by February 3rd, with the possible exception of New Mexico, and we're going to continue on. We're going to continue on through February 17th, and we're going to continue on through March 2nd, and we're going to win.
DEAN: Because I think this party needs a new face in front of it. I don't think we can do business the same old way.
You know, I mean no disrespect to John Kerry, and if he's the nominee, believe me, I'm going to support him and vote for him and all that. But we saw yesterday in The Washington Post, he's taken more money, special-interest money than any other senator in 15 years.
How can you go after George Bush because of all the dealings with the Medicare bill, which really sent the money to the insurance companies and the HMOs and the pharmaceutical companies, or his energy bill, which really sent the money to the gas and oil, if you're the senator who's taken more special interest money in the last 15 years than anybody else? That is not what I came all this way to do for the Democratic Party and for this country.
RUSSERT: But, Governor, if your mission is to beat George Bush, and you haven't won any primaries, and John Kerry emerges as the presumptive nominee, would you continue on a scorched-earth policy?
DEAN: No, there's not going to be a scorched-earth policy, but this race is about delegates. As we sit here right now, I have more delegates than John Kerry does.
So the real test is what happens in January -- excuse me, in July, at the convention, who has the most delegates. I hope to have the most delegates. And we're going to continue to work and work and work and work.
And every time I get discouraged about it, I go out and talk to all the people who are really supporting us, and they want change in this country, and I want change in this country.
I did not start this because I had this burning desire that I have to be president or my life is ruined. I started this because this country is in big trouble because of what George Bush has done to us: half a trillion dollar deficits, all our taxpayers' money ending up in hands of people like Ken Lay at Enron or the insurance companies and the HMOs. And more than half of the money from the Medicare prescription drug bill is ending up in the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies. That's not what this country's about.
Whatever happened to ordinary Americans? That is what this campaign is about, is what's going to happen to ordinary Americans. And I am going to change this country, should I become president of the United States, so that ordinary people can have their voice back.
RUSSERT: After the Iowa causes, Democrats were very civil and nice to each other. Yesterday, you really unloaded on John Kerry. Let's let the viewers...
RUSSERT: ... listen to what you said, and then hear John Kerry's response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
DEAN: Turns out we've got more than one Republican in the Democratic race. I've already said that I thought Wes Clark was a Republican, and now, apparently, John Kerry has the same financing habits.
U.S. SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D-MA): Governor Dean has, in the course of this campaign, made a number of comments that he's had to apologize to other candidates for, and I would respectfully suggest that that may be just one more of them.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
RUSSERT: Will you apologize for, in effect, calling John Kerry a Republican?
DEAN: The only time I've ever apologized to any candidate was to when I said something about John Edwards that wasn't true. I said that John Edwards had changed his position on the war in front of the California convention last April, and that wasn't true.
Of course I'm not going to apologize. John Kerry gets his money the same way George Bush does.
I was so angry when I read that article, after John Kerry had the nerve -- you know, here's what happened in this campaign.
Look, we came out with a very strong message. We shot to the top. All the other candidates took up our message. I think that's fine. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and it's actually great for the Democratic Party that we're starting to get some backbone again.
Then I come to find out that John Kerry has been running around Iowa and New Hampshire and telling all these Americans he's going to get the special interests, and who was on the take with the special interests? Not only just got his special-interest money -- look, we all have special-interest money. I'm sure if you went through my campaign, you'd find people in special interests, lobbyists who have given me money and so forth.
The senator with the most special-interest money over the last 15 years is John Kerry, who's just been running around telling all Americans how he's going to get the special interests, and don't let the door hit you on the way out.
That is exactly what's wrong with American politics, and that's why 50 percent of the people in this country don't vote.
RUSSERT: This is what you said to The New York Times last week: "Dean defined the nomination battle as a choice between himself and, quote, 'a Washington insider who shifts back and forth with every poll."'
Who is that?
DEAN: That's John Kerry.
RUSSERT: On what issues?
DEAN: Iraq, for one. He couldn't make up his mind whether he was for Iraq or not, for the longest time. No Child Left Behind, he voted for that, didn't have the nerve to stand up against that when I did a long, long time ago.
Look, I'm not a perfect person, but with me, you get what you see. I say what I think and I stand up for what I think is right, whether it's popular or not. I stood up against the war in Iraq, because I didn't think the president was telling the truth. And I stood up against No Child Left Behind because I knew it was going to be a disaster for America's schools.
The other guys, God bless them -- and, believe me, if they win, I'm going to support them, we've got to get rid of George Bush. But the other guys all voted for that stuff, then they come around and find out it's unpopular, so now they're saying, "Well, we've got to do this and we've got to do that."
How about a little foresight, and how about standing up for what you think is right and not worrying about what the focus groups and the polls say?
RUSSERT: John Kerry was on this program three weeks ago, and he issued a challenge to you. Let's watch and get your response.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
KERRY: I'd love to have a face-to-face debate with him. Let's have you and me and Howard Dean together.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
RUSSERT: Do you accept that challenge?
RUSSERT: Any Sunday?
RUSSERT: You'll be here?
RUSSERT: I want to talk about...
DEAN: Let's see if he'll accept it.
RUSSERT: We'll ask. We will ask.
Let's talk about the whole idea of special interests. I was deluged with e-mails from rival campaigns and others yesterday, saying, "Howard Dean lives in a glass house."
This is what you said in a New Hampshire town hall meeting last Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: I don't owe the special interests anything. One of the reasons they all beat up on us for the last six months is because we don't go down there in Washington on bended knee, because we don't need Washington insiders. What we need is you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUSSERT: Forty-eight hours after you said that, Joe Trippi left the campaign and Roy Neel, a Washington lobbyist, took charge.
This is how The New York Times editorial wrote about Mr. Neel when he left the White House to become a lobbyist: "Mr. Clinton Spins the Lobby Door. That revolving door Bill Clinton promised to put his foot in is still spinning to propel two influential White House aides into top jobs at major lobbying and public relations organizations. Instead of the promised end to business as usual, this administration has come up with an income-enhancement plan for well-connected Democrats.
"Roy Neel, most recently deputy White House chief of staff, has accepted a job as president at a lobbying arm of regional and local telephone companies. Mr. Clinton's guidelines may have barred officials from individual lobbying, but it has not stopped them from becoming lobbying executives, nor did it bar White House officials from lobbying Congress, which Mr. Neel, with dizzying candor, said he intended to do the moment he assumed his new job."
How could you do that to all your supporters, who signed on to change or take our country back...
DEAN: First of all...
RUSSERT: ... put a Washington lobbyist in charge of your campaign?
DEAN: Roy Neel hasn't been a Washington lobbyist for four years, first of all.
Secondly, he was Al Gore's chief of staff. He was Bill Clinton's deputy chief of staff. And he's a great organizer, and he's a good guy.
The issue in this campaign is not who's running the campaign. The issue in the campaign is how we're going to beat George Bush and get the kind of a regime out of power in Washington.
And, you know, you can savage Roy Neel all you want. And The New York Times evidently had no compunction about doing it. But the truth is, he has not been in the lobbying business for four years. He's been a college professor. And I think he's been good for the campaign, and he'll continue to be good for the campaign.
RUSSERT: It's not savaging Roy Neel. It's just talking about what he's done.
DEAN: He, unlike Dick Cheney, complied with the federal ethics guidelines. He did exactly what he was supposed to do and didn't break any -- not only didn't he break any laws, he didn't break any ethics guidelines.
Dick Cheney is taking deferred compensation from Halliburton, which just got a huge no-bid contract in Iraq. And Dick Cheney is in violation of the federal ethics code, because he's not supposed to be taking deferred compensation.
This is not about Roy Neel. This is about changing this country, and this is about standing up for what you think is right.
RUSSERT: When Roy was head of the United States Telecom Association, the political action committee gave money to Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay. How is that not business as usual?
DEAN: What does that have to do with four years of being a college professor and being the chief of staff for Bill Clinton and Al Gore?
What I want is -- and what we have -- we have not changed what we're doing in this campaign a bit. We're getting enormous support still from the grassroots. It does help to have somebody who knows something about how to run campaigns organizing your campaign.
It had been my hope that Joe would stay on, because he's such a brilliant strategist, and he built the campaign. And I think that would have been a tremendous team, to have Roy running the inside stuff in the campaign, making sure that the trains ran on time, and having Joe's brilliant strategy from the outside. That wasn't to be.
But, you know, this campaign is about taking Washington back from people who simply feather their nests.
RUSSERT: Your deputy campaign manager, Bob Rogan, worked for you in Vermont, then left to become the lobbyist for the biggest electric company in Vermont.
Doesn't that symbolism show an attempt by you to, in effect, be a hypocrite, in terms of taking the country back from special interests?
DEAN: Bob Rogan was my deputy chief of staff. He's a very good person and a very ethical person. He also -- I have ethical guidelines about what you can do and what you can't do in my administration as well, and he kept those ethical guidelines.
Look, people go back and forth between government and politics. The key is, are they ethical people? And both of my folks are ethical people, and they have never once crossed over the line.
And that is a very different thing than taking $650,000 of special interest money after you claimed that you don't, and you're railing against special interests, as Senator Kerry has, and as George -- what George Bush has done is much, much worse than what Senator Kerry did.
The only thing that bothered me about John Kerry is that he -- his whole campaign was borrowed from me, was, well, "we're going to get the special interests out of Washington," and come to find out he's taken more special interest money in the last 15 years than any other senator.
What George Bush has done is appalling, because they have taken our money, $16 billion for the oil and gas industry in tax credits in the energy bill, hundreds of billions of dollars in the pharmaceutical prescription bill going to drug companies and prescription companies, HMOs and insurance companies, instead of to seniors. That is far worse than what we're talking about.
But it does bother me greatly that somebody would make a big deal out of the special interests and then get most of their money from special interests. We have 11 percent of our contributions of $2,000 checks. Eighty-nine percent is less than that. And that's not true of any other candidate running for the presidency.
RUSSERT: The Center for Public Integrity has a new book out, "The Buying of the President 2004." They have a chapter on all the candidates. And they say the 10 top career patrons of Howard Dean's campaigns: AOL Time Warner, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, IBM.
The Associated Press wrote this article in January: "Dean Accepted Special Interest Money. While governor of Vermont, he accepted personal pay from special interests at least five times for speeches. Also received more than $60,000 in checks and pledges for his charity fund from insurers who benefited from a state tax break. Dean's fees and charitable donations were legal, did not have to be disclosed under Vermont law, but were detailed in correspondence and tax records reviewed by the Associated Press."
DEAN: Let's talk about that a little bit, because that was some of the piling on that was going on, which is why we're not the front- runner anymore.
I raised $60,000 to put computers in the poorest schools in my state, and I raised a whole lot more money to put girls' hockey teams in 20 schools around the country -- in 20 schools around my state.
Now, that article I think is pretty low, because that's what they're complaining about. They're complaining about my going to captive insurance companies and other companies, raising money so that kids could play hockey and raising money so that the poorest students in Vermont could have computers. That is what that article's about.
I think, you know, that is just nonsense, just plain nonsense.
RUSSERT: What about the pay from the special interests five times for speeches?
DEAN: In 12 years, I think I got about $15,000 or something like that for giving speeches. That's less than $1,000 a year.
RUSSERT: But should you do that from special interests?
DEAN: Maybe you should, maybe you shouldn't. All I know is I was asked to go down and give speeches about things like the Success By Six program. If they were going to pay me for it, I wasn't going to turn it down.
The other thing is, Tim, while these special interests are doing that, I was sticking it to them in the legislature. I mean, some of that money came from a drug company named AstraZeneca, which has since morphed into who knows what, several takeovers. And so people say, oh, he got $5,000 from AstraZeneca, he must be a crook.
At the same time we were passing legislation that prevented drug companies in general from screwing consumers by jacking up their prices. Because we told them that if you wanted to do business with the state of Vermont, you had to compete and have the lowest price, in order to get on our formulary. And they made a product called Nexium which we axed from the formulary.
RUSSERT: What many journalists, and others, and citizens have said to you is, "Governor, let's just clear all this up. Let's just release all your records. Let's see your files as governor of Vermont, all your tax records, and find out what's here."
Back in January, you talked about that at a news conference and this is what you said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: Well, there are future political considerations. We wouldn't want anything embarrassing appearing in the papers at a critical time in any future endeavor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: Look at the expression on my face.
RUSSERT: You were joking?
DEAN: Sure. I was having a good time with the press.
RUSSERT: But we have tried to get access to the files, and the attorney general of Vermont, Sorrell, whom you know very well, said that, "You know, Howard says a judge is going to release these page- by-page. That's not what we're doing. We want a summary judgment to keep all the records sealed, period."
DEAN: That's up to him. We're not involved in this case.
Let me just talk a little bit about records and governors. First of all, the majority of my records are unsealed. Secondly, governors in every state, or almost every state, seal their records for a time after they leave office, and here's why: First of all, people give you advice and they think it's confidential. Secondly, people write letters to you.
We had a lot of letters that I understand -- first of all, you have to understand, I don't exactly know what's sealed and what's not. We got two lawyers to come in and go through everything that we did to decide what complied with the sealing law and what didn't. They know what's in there.
I've been told that things are in there, the kind of things are somebody wrote me about the civil unions bill and said, you know, I'm gay, and this and that and the other thing. I don't think that belongs in the public domain.
So the group of people sued us, which is fine. That's been done before, and they've lost. And what's going to happen, or I thought was going to happen, is what happened the last time. The last time we got sued was over the release of my schedule, which is not public either, and the judge went through everything and decided this is fair to release and this is not.
So, you know, what the attorney general does with this suit is up to him. We don't even have a lawyer defending our part in the suit. We just turned this over to the state. The records don't belong to me anymore; they belong to the state of Vermont. What they do is what they do.
But I do think that there is a place for sealed records after you leave the governorship, for the same reason there's a place for sealed records after you leave the presidency. People give you advice, individuals have things that are very personal that ought not to be in the public domain. That's why about 45 percent of our records got sealed.
RUSSERT: Do you think a campaign should put out all his tax returns and health records of while he served in public office?
DEAN: I did put out all my tax returns. Ever since I've been using an accountant, my tax returns have been public.
RUSSERT: Since, when has that been?
DEAN: That's the last five years or six years, anyway.
RUSSERT: And health records?
DEAN: Health records we haven't done, but we're just getting them together, and we're happy to do that when everybody else does. And we will do that. I think that's a good idea.
RUSSERT: When I was in Iowa, I read a letter to the editor in the Des Moines Register, which caught my attention. And this is what it says: "Now I know how Howard Dean gets his exercise while he's on the campaign trail. He drops to his knees to beg Washington insiders to endorse him, and then he jumps up to insult them. I'm guessing he does about 20 repetitions of that a day."
In retrospect, you embrace Al Gore, you embrace Tom Harkin, U.S. senator for 25 years, you fly down to be with Jimmy Carter. Did an outside insurgent campaign get too close to the Washington establishment, and did it backfire?
DEAN: I don't think so. I don't think so at all. I think Jimmy Carter is one of the most revered figures in American life, and I was just delighted to spend some time with Jimmy Carter. The other candidates, you know, we worked on -- we worked very hard.
Al Gore made the decision to endorse us. The only negative thing about Al Gore's endorsement is that it convinced all the other people in the race that the race was almost over if they didn't do something about it quickly. And they all really just beat the daylights out of us for the rest of the time.
And so that -- but, you know, I think Al Gore's a terrific person. He's very, very bright.
I think that he understands fully now some of the things that went on in his own campaign, and I think he is appalled by what's going on in the Bush administration.
In my opinion, Al Gore has been given the two best speeches in this campaign, even though he's not running, one in March to talk about the war, and the other to talk about democracy in September in New York.
And, you know, I'm proud to have Al Gore's endorsement.
RUSSERT: You, in December, said this: "The Democratic Leadership Council, which is sort of the Republican part of the Democratic Party, the Republican wing of the Democratic Party." Bill Clinton was a head of the Democratic Leadership Council. You're suggesting...
DEAN: So was Dick Gephardt.
RUSSERT: Yes. And Al Gore was very close to it, the whole idea of New Democrats.
Why would you antagonize a significant part of the Democratic Party by calling them Republicans?
DEAN: Because they've been whacking me for eight months. Three folks that work for that party -- Al From, who's the executive director, Bruce Reed and Will Marshall -- are aligned with other candidates, and they, for months, are going after me. As you know, Tim, I don't take it lightly when people go after me, and eventually I'm going to respond.
Look, eventually we're going to need the Democratic Leadership Council in order to beat George Bush. We're going to need every single Democrat that we can possibly get. But, you know, I don't lie down in front of people who want to run me over with a steamroller.
RUSSERT: We're going to take a quick break and come back and talk about Iraq, the economy and a whole lot of other issues.
We're with Governor Howard Dean, we're coming live from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the site of the February 17th Democratic primary.
RUSSERT: We are in Wisconsin. We're talking to Governor Howard Dean.
When we were last together in June, I asked you about Iraq, and you said, quote, "We need more troops in Iraq now." Is that still your position?
DEAN: It is. Well, of course, I'm not going to send our troops there. I'm trying to get our troops out of there.
You know, George Bush's father, whose diplomatic skills I admired, had well over 100,000 troops in Iraq, many of whom were Arabic speaking and Muslim troops.
And I've said repeatedly that what we really ought to do is bring Arabic-speaking and Muslim troops in to replace, a, our Guard and Reserve, who have no business being over there for that kind of extended length of time, and one of the two divisions we have over there.
If we could do, we could turn Iraq into an international reconstruction effort, instead of an American occupation.
RUSSERT: If the U.N. and NATO said "No, I'm sorry, we're not sending troops in," how long would U.S. troops be in Iraq under President Dean?
DEAN: I don't think they will say no under a different president. This president went out of his way to antagonize, deliberately, practically every ally that we had. And I think a new -- and people want to like Americans around the world, they just despise this president.
And I think if we do change presidents, and really make it clear that we do respect other countries and we're willing to listen to them, that they will -- they'll bend over backwards to cooperate with us. I think we will be able to bring foreign troops in.
RUSSERT: How long do you think it will take you to do that?
DEAN: I think it would be actually fairly quick. If I were to become president, I would be abroad very, very quickly, because that's really an enormous problem that we have, isolating ourselves from the rest of the world.
This president has forfeited the moral leadership of the free world for the first time since World War I. People don't respect us anymore. They fear us, but they don't respect us.
RUSSERT: Could you get U.S. troops out within a year?
DEAN: You know, Tim, setting deadlines is very tough, because if you do set a deadline, then people tend to stall who think they're going to benefit from an early withdrawal. So I would be really careful not to set a deadline. The deadline I want is ASAP within the confines of maintaining a secure Iraq.
Iraq has to -- no, I don't believe there were any Al Qaida in Iraq before we went in, but there is now. You know, I think these quote, unquote, "foreign fighters" that are killing our troops every day with these roadside bombs, I think, you know, they clearly have a link with Al Qaida.
And we can't allow Al Qaida to set up shop in Iraq. It's too dangerous. It's exactly what they did in Afghanistan. That would be an enormous national security problem. I think the president has essentially created a national security problem in Iraq when one did not exist before.
RUSSERT: Do you think Iraq is now more dangerous to the United States than it was pre...
DEAN: Absolutely. Absolutely. And the reason I think so is because Al Qaida is there, foreign fighters are there. And if we leave, Iraq then becomes a real danger to the United States. Until we leave a stabilized Iraq behind -- and that's got to be the goal, now that we're there.
I'd love to be able to tell all my supporters, most of whom are very anti-war, that I'd bring them out tomorrow. That's just not true. You can't do that. It's not responsible. We have to be responsible to national security. I'm going to bring them home, and as soon as I can, particularly the Guard and Reserve. They come home first.
But I really have to say that if just we pull out this minute tomorrow, without substituting foreign troops or well-trained Iraqis, then we have a security problem that we did not have when Saddam was in power.
RUSSERT: A big debate about intelligence. Why was it so wrong? Was it manipulated?
You have called for an independent commission to look into this. Are you convinced the president will go along with that?
DEAN: I'm not convinced the president will go along with anything. The president was not truthful with the American people about why we went into Iraq. Now we don't know why he wasn't truthful. We don't know if he was given bad information, which he passed along to the country, or if he and the administration at the highest levels decided to manipulate the intelligence reports. We don't know.
But we do know that most of the things the president said about why we were going into Iraq were not true. That there was no link between Saddam and Al Qaida. Colin Powell admitted that last week. That there was no evidence that Saddam had anything to do with 9/11. The president himself said there was no clear evidence for that a few weeks ago. That there was no attempt to buy uranium from Africa. The White House backed off on that a few months ago.
That the vice president said that Iraq about to develop nuclear weapons, there was no evidence for that. The Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said that he knew where the weapons of mass destruction were in Tikrit and Baghdad. There was no evidence for that, as we now see from David Kay's resignation.
So most of the reasons the president of the United States told us we were going into Iraq were not true. Even the stuff about Saddam being a genocidal maniac. It is true that Saddam Hussein committed genocide. That was under President Bush I's watch. The Shiite massacres occurred when President Bush's father encouraged the Shiite rebellion and it was put down with brutality and violence.
The gassing of the Kurds -- all that stuff happened years ago.
So I have yet to understand why this president, other than that he didn't like Saddam Hussein, went into Iraq.
Now, there are a lot..
RUSSERT: But Saddam has tortured and killed people over the last 10 years.
DEAN: Saddam Hussein is a terrible person, terrible human being. So is Robert Mugabe; so is the guy who runs the Ukraine, Kuchma; so is Lukashenko, who runs Byelorussia, or Belarus.
You could name, if I could think of -- I'm not very good at these kinds of lists, but...
RUSSERT: Fidel Castro?
DEAN: Fidel Castro is not such a great human being either. Certainly has put many human rights -- dissidents...
DEAN: So there's a long list of people that you could go after. And we don't do that, as a matter of course. Why Saddam?
RUSSERT: At the debate on Thursday you were talking about intelligence, and specifically about the vice president. Let me share that with our viewers and you and talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: What we now find out is that the vice president, Dick Cheney, went to the CIA, on at least one occasion and maybe more, sat with middle-level CIA operatives and berated them because he didn't like their intelligence reports.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUSSERT: The Congress, Democrats and Republicans, have looked into those charges. Here's the front page of The Washington Post: "No evidence CIA slanted Iraq data."
And The Washington Post on Friday reported this: "There is no publicly available evidence that the Cheney intelligence meetings were openly confrontational."
You leveled a very serious charge, the vice president berated mid-level people. What evidence do you base that on?
DEAN: We know that there's a retired CIA officer who has told people that we're familiar with, very familiar with, that that's exactly what went on.
RUSSERT: David Kay had this to say in his testimony: "I had innumerable analysts who came to me to apologize that the world that we were finding was not the world that they had thought existed and they had estimated. But never, not in a single case, was the explanation 'I was pressured to do this."'
DEAN: Different people have different versions of this. It is hard for me to believe...
RUSSERT: Can you make public your evidence any more than you just did?
DEAN: Not right at this time. Certainly, I think, you know, we've already seen the administration blow some CIA people's cover, and I don't think I want to join that group.
RUSSERT: I want to talk about the economy and tax cuts. John Kerry had this to say: "Howard Dean said for months a core principle of his campaign is to get rid of the Bush tax cut, but he's now floating a secret plan which he won't even describe to the voters."
How are you going to protect the middle class when you want to get rid of the child tax credit and increase taxes on everyone and reinstate the marriage penalty tax?
DEAN: This is exactly why I don't think John Kerry ought to be the Democratic nominee, because what the senator is doing, and others, everybody in the Democratic side is promising a middle-class tax cut, promising health insurance for everybody, promising full funding of No Child Left Behind, promising funding for special education.
The American people know you can't do that. Most Americans know that you can spend what comes in and not more. We have a half-a- trillion-dollar deficit.
Now, let me not just beat up on the Democrats. The president, of course, is far worse. He's promising a trillion-dollar tax cut and a trip to Mars. And he has a half-a-trillion-dollar deficit.
Where do these Washington people think this money comes from? This is crazy. You can't do this. You have to balance the budget. And they're all doing the same thing, promise, promise, promise, let's get by election and then we'll discover, oh, gee, well, maybe we can't quite do this.
Secondly, there was no middle-class tax cut. If you make $1 million, you get $112,000 in tax cuts. Sixty percent of Americans got an average of $304. The president cut services so badly that he helped drive up health care premiums by cutting a million and a half Americans, including 500,000 children, off their health care insurance; cutting 84,000 kids off their Pell grants, driving up college tuitions all over America; driving up people's property taxes all over America by refusing to fund No Child Left Behind and cops on the beat, which Clinton had, special education. All that money went to Ken Lay and the boys, who benefited from the big tax cuts.
There was no middle-class tax cut in this country. There was a huge middle-class tax increase because of the fiscal policies of George Bush.
So for John Kerry to get upset that I want to get rid of all the Bush tax cuts is ridiculous.
Now, let's get to the matter of the tax cut that -- the so-called "secret plan." I've always said in our budget deliberations, because every candidate tries to put together some sort of a budget, we've always put aside money for middle-class tax fairness. And we've always looked at the payroll tax as the most regressive tax and as the one that would help the small business community the most, as well as low-wage workers, who got no help from the Bush tax cut whatsoever.
What happened was an enterprising reporter at The Boston Globe managed to track down some of my advisers and ferret this out. I had no intention of saying, oh, now we're going to have a middle- class tax fairness.
And the reason I had no intention of saying that right now is because my first priority is to balance the budget of the United States of America. It's not responsible to continue on with half- trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.
RUSSERT: So if you're the nominee and George Bush said, "OK, Howard Dean, you're getting rid of the child tax credit, you're going to reinstate the marriage penalty, the average income earner who makes between $70,000 and $150,000 will pay $2,000 more in taxes," you'll say, "That's right, Mr. President, because we need that money for other things"?
DEAN: You know what I'm going to say? I'm going to say, "Mr. President, most people in this country would gladly pay the same taxes they paid under Bill Clinton, if they could only have the same economy they had under Bill Clinton."
RUSSERT: In 1995, when you were governor and head of the National Governors Association and working with them, you were quite bold in your ideas about balancing the budget. You said, "The way to balance the budget is for Congress is to cut Social Security, move the retirement age to 70, cut defense, Medicare, veterans' pensions, while the states cut almost anything else."
Are you still holding to those views?
DEAN: Of course not. Bill Clinton showed that -- I mean, that was when we were in really deep trouble. That was when Social Security was in deep trouble, Medicare was in deep trouble. Bill Clinton turned the economy around.
RUSSERT: We have a $500 billion deficit, Governor, and the number of people on Social Security and Medicare are going to double in the next 15 years.
DEAN: But you know what Bill Clinton taught us? Bill Clinton taught us that if you turn the economy around, people start paying payroll taxes, a lot more people start working again, and Social Security and Medicare can be saved without making all those kinds of cuts.
Look, we've got to balance the budget in this country. And we're going to do what we have to do to balance the budget. We are not going to have to cut Social Security and Medicare to balance the budget.
First of all, they have separate trust funds. Second of all, when the economy turns around, which it will under a Democratic president, then we will begin to see people going back to work and paying the kind of payroll taxes that'll make those programs solvent.
RUSSERT: You said the other day, talking about trade policy in Indiana, Iowa, that under your policy, there's some bad news, prices will go up at your local Wal-Mart. How popular is that going to be?
DEAN: Well, you know what they get in return? American jobs stop going overseas. Illegal immigration is reduced to a trickle, because people are going to make money in their own countries instead of having to come here to feed their families. And you get a much better world security, because you develop middle classes in developing countries. I think that's a pretty good tradeoff.
RUSSERT: People will pay higher prices at Wal-Mart for that?
DEAN: Yes. People will pay higher prices at Wal-Mart. Look, I'm just telling the truth here. I mean, I understand that everybody else promises you can have a tax cut, you can do this, you can do that. It's not true. It is not true. You cannot do everything.
Somebody asked me the other day, "Governor, what about paid family leave, can't we have it?" And I said, look, here's my priorities, we've got to balance the budget because this country. We're not going to have jobs back in America until we start to balance the budget, because people don't invest in countries with a balance sheet that looks like Argentina's did.
So we're going to balance the budget. I want health insurance for every single American, just like we did for all our kids in Vermont, for a third of our seniors and all our working poor people. We can do that.
And there's some other things, some less expensive things, funding of special education, and college, so forth.
And if you've got rid of the president's $3 trillion tax cut, $2.4 in tax cuts, $600 billion in borrowing costs because he didn't have the money to give the tax cuts, you can do all these things.
Over a six- or seven-year period, you're going to balance the budget, you can have health insurance for every American, which costs exactly the same amount as we're putting into Iraq every year now, but you cannot have family leave and all this other list of things. So I can't promise you full-funded family leave, because we're not going to do it.
Don't you think it's time politicians started talking like that instead of smiling three months before the election and promising them everything?
RUSSERT: The economy grew 8.2 percent last quarter, 4 percent this quarter, housing starts are up, manufacturing is up.
You were talking to Walter Shapiro in 2002 and said this: "Here's my whole theory about this, which will be interesting to see how it plays out a year from now. I don't think a Democrat can win the presidency in 2004 if the economy is good. As much as I hope the economy is good for the country's sake, I'm going to make the assumption it won't be good, because otherwise, why would do you this?"
With that kind of economic growth, is it possible for a Democrat to win?
DEAN: I think a Democrat's going to beat George Bush. Whoever gets nominated is going to beat George Bush, because the economy is in terrible shape in this country. I understand the numbers you just told me, and I'll add another one, the stock market is probably up 35 percent, right?
No jobs. Where are the jobs? A thousand jobs created in December. This president's the first president since Herbert Hoover who has a net loss of jobs.
You know, you can talk about all the numbers you want on the front page of the newspaper, but until your neighbor has a job and you're not worried about losing your health insurance, the economy has not turned up.
What this president has done is spent all his time catering to enormous corporations, many of whom which are not American corporations anymore. They'll move their jobs anyplace in the world to maximize their assets.
Just like William McKinley and Herbert Hoover, he has forgotten about ordinary Americans who make this country go. He just thinks of us as cogs in a machine, in a corporate machine.
Teddy Roosevelt came along and fixed that after McKinley. Franklin Roosevelt came along after Hoover. Now we need a Democrat in the White House to replace George Bush, so we can start thinking of ourselves as human beings first and cogs in a big machine second.
RUSSERT: Let me turn to the issue of guns, because you've been outspoken on it, as governor, as a candidate.
Back in Vermont, this was a flier the NRA put out, and they said, "In November, we should return a truly pro-gun governor to office by reelecting Governor Howard Dean."
Do you believe that the NRA has been a positive force in America?
DEAN: It has in Vermont. I can't speak about America.
I think the NRA is less positive the closer you get to big cities, because they have these crazy ideas like you ought to be able to have a bazooka on your front lawn, and all that kind of stuff, under the Second Amendment.
In Vermont, the NRA was very helpful. We did -- as governor, I preserved 8 percent of the entire land mass of the state of Vermont, never to be developed. The NRA was very helpful, because hunters get that you can't hunt if you don't have habitat.
Actually that endorsement's interesting. You know, I believe in the assault weapons ban. And I believe in background checks and extending background checks to gun shows. I never met a hunter that thought you ought to have a AK-47...
RUSSERT: But, Governor, the NRA's against that. They're against the Brady Bill.
DEAN: I know. The NRA is not going to endorse me this time.
RUSSERT: They said that federal agents are "jackbooted government...
DEAN: Of course I don't...
RUSSERT: ... stormtroopers."
DEAN: Yes, but George Bush's father resigned his membership in the NRA over that.
DEAN: You know, I don't support that kind of crap. I think some of the leadership of the NRA is nuts.
But the truth is, there are a lot of NRA members that aren't nuts. They're decent people. They're hunters, and they understand -- look, I come from a very rural state.
In fact, one of the cases that I make is that I'm going to be able to win a whole lot of union members that vote Republican, and a whole lot of rural people, because of this one position.
You know, I'm not -- George Bush is going to get the NRA endorsement, there's no question about that. He's letting the assault weapons ban lapse, which I think is a huge mistake.
But the truth is, because I come from a rural state and I understand hunting and I understand what most NRA members are about, I think I have a much better chance than any other Democrat of beating George Bush, for that particular reason.
Dave Neal (ph), who's the head of the UAW in Iowa, once told me that he thought he lost 20 to 30 percent of his members on that one issue alone.
Now, look, I'm not going to get the NRA endorsement, because I do support the assault weapons ban and I do support background checks and extending it to instant background checks to gun show laws.
But nobody's going to be able to push me around and say that I'm for registration or all that stuff which they're going to do for all the other Democrats, because I was endorsed eight times by the National Rifle Association when I was governor of Vermont.
That stuff matters. That's an electability issue. And I think those are the kinds of things that make me much more electable than some of the other folks in this race.
RUSSERT: We're going to take a quick break and continue our conversation. I want to come back and talk about your famous scream speech in Iowa, what that has done to your campaign, the way people have reacted to it, and a whole lot more.
We're with Governor Howard Dean. We're in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We'll be right back.
RUSSERT: We are in Wisconsin. I'm with Governor Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, Democratic candidate for president.
I don't know if you've ever seen video of the speech that you gave.
DEAN: Oh, I've seen it many times.
RUSSERT: But I want to share it with you and our viewers one more time.
DEAN: Are you going to show the ABC version, which shows the audience, or some other version?
RUSSERT: Well, let's show this, and we'll come back and talk about it.
DEAN: All right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: We're going to South Carolina, and Oklahoma, and Arizona, and North Dakota, and New Mexico. We're going to California, and Texas, and New York. And we're going to South Dakota, and Oregon, and Washington, and Michigan. And then we're going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUSSERT: What happened?
DEAN: I was having a great time. Are you kidding? Look at the expression on my face. I never had so much fun.
RUSSERT: You wouldn't do it again?
DEAN: No, it wasn't very presidential, but it was a lot of fun.
RUSSERT: The Washington Post had a very interesting editorial, and it tried to put it in context, and let me share that with you and our viewers and talk about it.
"Defending the Rant. The speech has caused such big trouble for Mr. Dean because it so graphically evoked already present worries about the candidate's temperament. This is a common political phenomenon.
"Thus, Mr. Quayle's misspelling of 'potato' was a big deal of underlying doubts about the vice president's intellect. President George Herbert Walker Bush's supposed fascination with a supermarket scanner resonated because of the perception the president is out of touch with ordinary folk.
"Likewise, the grief that Vice President Gore took over his alleged boast to have discovered pollution problems at Love Canal, invented the Internet, inspired a character in Love Story, was the product of his reputation for self-serving puffery.
"In each of these cases, the importance of an episode, real or imagined, was inflated because of the preexisting political condition."
Do you agree with that?
DEAN: Yes, but, you know, a lot of that preexisting political condition was spin from other campaigns. You know, I never lost my temper once in 12 years with any staff member when I was in the legislature, although I did blow up at a few legislators from time to time.
This is ridiculous. Look, here's the guts of this campaign. First of all, as we've already talked about, I'll say things that aren't popular, if I think they're right for the country, and that's why Harry Truman's my idol.
Secondly, I don't owe anybody anything. We got less than 11 percent of our money in $2,000 checks. The other candidates, John Kerry, for example, and I don't want to pick just on John Kerry, but he's exactly the opposite, so is John Edwards. For example, they get the majority of their money from those $2,000 checks.
And the most important thing is they're all talking and none of them have delivered. John Kerry, for example, 11 bills on health care, not one passed. Three-hundred and fifty bills introduced, three passed. You know, he's always talking about veterans' health care -- his bill died in committee.
On the other hand, everybody in my state under 18 has health insurance. A third of our seniors have prescription benefits. We visit 100 percent of moms in the hospital, 91 percent follow-ups, child abuse down 43 percent, balanced budgets 11 years in a row.
What I could offer is real results. That's what governors do. That's what this campaign is about.
And all this little niggling around the edges and the spinning and the subterranean rumors, that's part of presidential politics, I understand that. I've actually kind of gotten a kick out of the beating I've taken in the press and from the other candidates, because if you're not ready to do that, then you shouldn't be president of the United States. This is all part of the initiation process.
But we're going to come back, Tim. We are tough, we are going to change this country, and we're going to come back, because we have a record that is based on results and not hot air.
RUSSERT: Well, what has happened, Governor, is that the perception has developed, and character and temperament are important for a presidential candidate.
DEAN: Yes, that's true.
RUSSERT: The exit polls in New Hampshire, this is with New Hampshire Democrats and independents said: Does Howard Dean have the temperament to be president? Fifty-six percent said yes. Thirty-nine percent, nearly four in 10, said no. That's a problem.
DEAN: As they get to know me, they will be OK with this.
There are a lot of analyses of what went wrong in our campaign, and how come we're not the front-runner anymore, and most of them are usual blather that people who don't have much to do think about, and don't, you know, have much insight into.
The best one, though, was an article in The New York Times which said that the campaign was so much about message that I forgot that it has to be about me, too, that people have to like you if they want to make you president of the United States.
And I think there's some truth to that. It's why we brought -- why I asked Judy to come out on the campaign trail, who incidentally had such a good time that, the other day, yesterday, which was our anniversary, she volunteered to come again, much to my astonishment. But that's why I asked Judy to come out, at Senator Harkin's wife's suggestion, so that people would get to know me.
And I think I have a long way to go in trying to get to know -- let the American people get to know me. I've gotten to know them, but that's what doctors do. You know, I listen to them, I absorb who they are, but I probably need to put more of myself out there so that people understand who I am.
RUSSERT: So the idea of not using her as a prop was wrong, you want to have her next to you.
DEAN: It's not a prop. She's not a prop. I always said when we first ran, I promised I would never -- I mean, I didn't promise, I knew I would never use her as a prop. But I do think that people have to know something about Judy to know something about me. It's the person I married, it's my life partner.
I think the kids are totally off-bounds. And I think the press has been very good in the last two administrations about keeping kids off-bounds, and hopefully they will be in the next one as well.
But people have to get to know me. They have to get to know Judy. And I actually think -- which is a funny thing to say after two years on the road -- that people don't feel like they know me that well. And I've got to figure out a way to let them do that more.
RUSSERT: We went back to your high school yearbook to find out what you said about yourself...
DEAN: I know, I know.
RUSSERT: And this is revealing.
DEAN: I admitted I had a temper when I was 16 years old.
RUSSERT: Howard Dean III. "If you're the curious type who can put up with a temper, join the few who know me as I know me."
Short fuse back then?
DEAN: Yes, but, you know, Bill Clinton had a temper. He was a terrific president. John F. Kennedy had -- I mean, Harry Truman certainly had a temper, and he was one of the great presidents of all time.
RUSSERT: If you get wiped out on this Tuesday, and then you lose Michigan and Washington state...
DEAN: I promise not to scream.
RUSSERT: But will you get out?
RUSSERT: If you keep attacking John Kerry, and he becomes the nominee, the Republicans will play back all your attacks. You could hurt the Democratic Party.
DEAN: No, wait a second, what did I just put up with for four months as I was the front-runner? Did anybody say that to any of the other guys? No.
This is a tough game, politics. And there are some things that I disagree with very strongly with Senator Clark -- I mean General Clark, Senator Edwards and Senator Kerry. And I'm going to talk about those disagreements.
And I think, going back to the real disagreement we had yesterday, is if you're the number-one senator who's taking special- interest money in the last 15 years, don't run your campaign based on, "I'm not going to take special interest money." Just don't do that to me.
RUSSERT: You going to watch the Super Bowl?
DEAN: No, I'm going to be flying from Michigan to New Mexico.
RUSSERT: Who's going to win?
RUSSERT: Let me show you September 7, 2003. And I'll put it on the screen. Those are the Buffalo Bills you see right here: 31; New England, 0.
So if the Patriots win the Super Bowl, will you acknowledge that Buffalo can lay claim to being the world champs?
DEAN: Hey, you know what, Tim? I do like the Pats, and I'm a fan of the Pats, but I'm not rabid the way you are about Buffalo. I've actually rooted for Buffalo on several occasions, because I'm an AFC guy. And when they got in the Super Bowl, I rooted for Buffalo.
RUSSERT: Howard Dean stays in this race all the way to the convention?
DEAN: I'm not going to do anything that's going to harm the Democratic Party. If we get blown out again and again and again -- you know, if somebody else gets more delegates and they clinch it, of course I'm not going all the way to the convention just to prove a point.
But I'm going to be in this race as long as I think I could win. And I think -- I've always said, I don't think this race is going to be decided until after March 2nd or perhaps March 9th, or even later than that. And we're going to do everything we can to stay in.
RUSSERT: We'll be watching. Be safe on the campaign trail.
DEAN: And we're going to do everything we can to win.
RUSSERT: And thanks for joining us this Sunday morning in Wisconsin.
DEAN: Thanks, Tim.