Howard Dean — the former Vermont governor who finished third in the 2004 Iowa Caucuses — is in Iowa today — and he’s dismissing talk about another Dean bid for the White House.
“Thank you for the kind introduction. It’s great to be back here and I promise not to list any states,” Dean joked as he took the stage at the Iowa Federation of Labor’s convention, getting laughter from the crowd for his reference to the now-infamous, bombastic concession speech Dean gave to buoy his disappointed supporters on Caucus night.
In a conversation with Radio Iowa today, Dean downplayed any hint that his trip was about the 2016 presidential race.
“You’re going to New Hampshire, too,” Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson said, mentioning the state which holds the nation’s first presidential primary.
Dean replied: “That’s in a month.”
When Henderson followed up by suggesting “tongues are wagging.”
Dean quickly said: “A lot of tongues are wagging. They shouldn’t wag too much. I’m most likely to support Hillary (Clinton)…because I think she’s be great, I think she’d win the nomination, I think she’d win the presidency.”
But would Dean consider another presidential bid if Hillary Clinton doesn’t run?
“We’re not going there. I’m supporting Hillary,” Dean said, laughing.
AUDIO of the opening part of Dean’s conversation with Radio Iowa, 1:02
Dean was barely known in Iowa when he started campaigning here in 2002, but toward the end of 2003 Dean was holding front-runner status in pre-Caucus polls, only to slide into third place on Caucus Night. Dean says Hillary Clinton “knows what she needs to do” to win in Iowa.
“She needs an infusion of her own people into this,” he told Radio Iowa. “I mean, I think one of the problems last time was she used her husband’s crew and that was great, except her husband’s crew did it last in 1992.”
Plus, Bill Clinton did not compete in Iowa’s 1992 Caucuses since Iowa Senator Tom Harkin was running for president back then.
During his speech to the Iowa Federation of Labor audience, Dean warned Democrats not to be complacent.
“The president had the best campaign organization I have ever seen these last two campaigns…I do think that David Plouffe, his campaign manager, knew where every single Democratic vote was in the whole country…and it was just a matter of getting them out, but we did not do that in our House races and we need to do that,” Dean said. “We need to focus in the off-year elections. Just the way we focused to reelect the president, we need to know where every vote is.”
AUDIO of Dean’s speech, 28:25
Dean suggested young Evangelicals could vote for Democratic candidates if the party focuses on issues like poverty and climate change which are important to Americans under the age of 35.
“A lot of the people who we think are our enemies are not,” Dean said. “We’ve got to talk to them.”
Long-term, person-to-person connections will be the Democratic Party’s path to building a winning coalition, according to Dean.
“Getting a thousand college kids to knock on doors, you know, 25,000 doors in a day is great. That helps. It’s not what you really need,” Dean said. “What you really need is getting people to knock on 100 doors four times during the election cycle so you get to know people because that’s what makes the difference.”
Dean, who was Vermont’s governor for 12 years, was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee in early 2005. He is credited with helping devise the so-called “50 State Strategy” for the 2006 election that helped Democrats win back the U.S. House of Representatives.