January 27, 2004
KATIE COURIC, co-host:
Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean is in second place in the polls, but he's hoping for a comeback.
Governor Dean, good morning to you.
Former Governor HOWARD DEAN (Democrat, Presidential Candidate): Good morning, Katie.
COURIC: We just heard Senator Kerry, said unlike you he fought in a war and knows the responsibilities of a commander in chief. What's your reaction to that?
Gov. DEAN: Oh, you know, I think it's great Senator Kerry served his country. I have served mine. I'm a physician. I've made life and death decisions. As a governor I've actually balanced budgets and not just talked about it. Delivered health care, not just talked about it. You know, I think most people would prefer somebody with executive experience in the presidency and that's what I offer. And I also don't think we can keep promising everything to everybody. All of these guys are good guys, but they are all promising a tax cut for the middle class and health insurance and help with your college. That's just not going to happen. You have to balance the budget in this country and we have to face up to our responsibilities in a way this administration has not done.
COURIC: Why do you keep hammering away at John Kerry's past military votes when it comes to milita-entering into military conflict?
Gov. DEAN: Well, it concerns me that Senator Kerry had the same evidence I had in front of me and we came to opposite conclusions. I think that Senator Kerry's service in Vietnam should be applauded and respected, but I don't think it's made him better able to determine what the facts are. The facts are that we all had access to more or less the same information. I came to the conclusion the president probably wasn't being candid with the American people about why we were going into Iraq. Senator Kerry, Senator Edwards, and Senator Lieberman all voted in favor of the war. I think that was a mistake. And i think our folks are paying for. This morning in Berlin, New Hampshire, we find now that there was a young New Hampshire man killed overnight, the 513th casualty. I think that's a pretty significant responsibility and I think we ought to be careful and ask the tough questions before we vote and not after we vote.
COURIC: But don't you think the information the administration put forth was perhaps, in the views of these candidates, misleading, and they went on what the administration was insisting was true?
Gov. DEAN: Yes. The question is not whether the administration was misleading. They were clearly misleading. The question is how come the senators fell for the misleading information and I didn't?
COURIC: Let's go on to the latest MSNBC Zogby poll numbers.
JANUARY 24-26, 2004 MARGIN OF ERROR +/- 3.8%
COURIC: It shows John Kerry's opened up a 13-point lead in New Hampshire, as you know, in large part because he's winning the undecided vote by a four to one margin over you. Why do you think undecideds are not going your way?
Gov. DEAN: I don't have any idea. I know it's been a tough campaign. A lot of things have been said. All I know is that I believe this country needs a real change. I think that it's fine to change presidents. I have questions about whether we can possibly beat George Bush with somebody from inside the beltway, somebody who can't, as we have, bring in all these outside folks and young people, people who haven't voted before. Because, you know, politicians are always promising things and never delivering them. And that's why 50 percent of people in America don't vote anymore. So I'm hoping that undecided voters will want to beat George Bush badly enough to take the chance that we need to-need to take, which is to bring new voters into this-into this process that hasn't been there before.
COURIC: Well, electability does seem to be the key word, and we hear that word over and over again. Yet according to the latest Newsweek poll, only 26 percent of those surveyed felt that you had a good chance of defeating President Bush. So don't you have a severe problem when it comes to the E word?
Gov. DEAN: Well, I actually think we have a better chance than all of the other candidates at beating George Bush because none of the other candidates can bring in the new people that we've brought in. I think what we need in Washington is somebody who is going to stand up and say what they think. And it may not be popular, and it may not always be politic, but I think a lot of people have given up in this country and we want to give them hope again. And that's really what this campaign has been all about.
COURIC: You said you would not use your wife as a campaign prop or a political prop, and yet now she is ubiquitous, it seems. She's been accompanying you a lot on the campaign trail. Why the change of heart?
Gov. DEAN: She actually asked. She went-I asked her to go to Iowa last week and she did. She had a great time. One of her patients actually called her and said, 'Don't you think you should cancel my appointment for Monday and go down to New Hampshire?' And so she did.
COURIC: And why-and why did you have the change of heart and said-when you once said you didn't want to use her as a prop?
Gov. DEAN: Well, I don't exactly think she's a prop. I think she's-I've always thought that someone who was looking at a presidential candidate would want to know about their wife, because that is somebody-that says something about who I am. And I'm delighted Judy came down. It's a lot more fun for me to have her next to me on the campaign trail.
COURIC: Do you wish she had entered the fray earlier?
Gov. DEAN: No, I respect-I've always respected her career. She's a physician. She's a very good physician. We have a son at home who is a senior in high school. And I think she chose and I supported her decision to keep her career and to stay at home with our son.
Gov. DEAN: So I think she did the right thing.
COURIC: Governor Howard Dean. As always, Governor Dean, thanks so much for talking with us this morning. We appreciate your time.
Gov. DEAN: Thanks very much.
COURIC: It's coming up on 7:14. Once again, here's Matt.
Copyright 2004 National Broadcasting Co. Inc.