View Full Version : Dean Getting Second Look From N.H. Voters

01-23-2004, 05:07 PM
Dean Getting Second Look From N.H. Voters

By RON FOURNIER, AP Political Writer

LONDONDERRY, N.H. - Larry O'Sullivan said Howard Dean "looked like a yahoo" bellowing in defeat from Iowa. Patricia Fields thinks he was "a bit wild." And Kim Lindley-Soucy said he was "overly excitable."

So why did these New Hampshire Democrats stand shoulder-to-shoulder Friday to listen to the embattled presidential candidate's new stump speech? They were giving the former Vermont governor a second look.

Dean's presidential aspirations, teetering on the edge of a political abyss, depend on voters such as Fields, Lindley-Soucy and O'Sullivan finding virtue in his faults — and giving him what O'Sullivan called "one more once-over."

It is too early to know whether Dean has turned his campaign around, and all the traditional measures — polls, endorsements, conventional wisdom and a simple lack of time before Tuesday's primary — lean against him. But interviews with nearly two dozen undecided voters Friday suggest that Dean's political makeover could at least stop his precipitous slide.

That would not be good for Sen. John Edwards (D - North Carolina) , Wesley Clark (D- Arkansas) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (L - Israel) — all struggling to pass Dean and Sen. John Kerry (D - Skull & Bones), whose lead in state polls has widened since the campaign left Iowa.

"When we saw him up their shouting and yelling, it put a lot of us on the fence. There's not a lot of difference between these guys so it doesn't take a lot to move us from one to another," said Ed Hennessy, 58, a retired union worker in Nashua, N.H., who deserted Dean last week.

"But I'm back in his camp. It was just a slip of the tongue, and nobody's perfect," Hennessy said. "I've got to give him credit for speaking from his heart."

Hennessy could have been reading Dean's script. Devised in the desperate hours after Iowa's upset, Dean's new stump speech is one part confessional ("I'm not a perfect man"), one part explanation ("I am passionate, but we can't beat Bush without some intensity"), and a heavy dose of New England populism ("I speak from my heart, not my head").

Woven throughout Dean's new script is criticism of his opponents. He claims he is the political outsider to their Beltway-insider resumes.

"Listen, to what they say. 'You can have middle-class tax cuts. You can have health care for every American,'" Dean told the crowd here. "You believe that?" In Nashua, N.H., he said voters want "a candidate who will tell the truth."

The five-term Vermont governor, no stranger to Washington institutions such as the Democratic Governors Association, said America needs change. "We're not going to do this by nominating a Washington insider," said Dean, former chairman of the DGA.

More than 250 people sat in folding chairs and watched Dean stroll the stage. Many said they weren't considering voting for him a week ago, either because they were never interested or — a sentiment heard most often — they were turned off by his defeat and post-election performance.

O'Sullivan, 50, a salesman from Londonderry, said Dean had not been on his short list.

"But here I am because of the impression he gave in the debate, despite the fact that he looked like a yahoo a couple days before in Iowa. I think he made up for it," O'Sullivan said.

He had watched Thursday night's debate, where Dean previewed his new strategy. Many voters stayed tuned afterward for an ABC interview with Dean and his wife, Judy.

"I think we've turned the corner and we're going to come back up, and the question is can we close the gap between now and Tuesday," Dean said, though it's too early for polls to reflect opinions after the debate.

Up to 20 percent of voters are undecided, surveys show, and many with favorite candidates are still open to changing their minds. Dean advisers say they hope they can stop his slide then claim a comeback — if not outright victory — much as Bill Clinton (news - web sites) did in 1992 when Massachusetts Sen. Paul Tsongas beat him by 8 percentage points amid an extramarital affair scandal.

Lindley-Soucy, cradling her baby at a Dean event, was not a supporter, certainly not immediately after Iowa. Suddenly, she's curious.

"He comes across as honest, even when it hurts," she said.

Fields, 66, a mental health counselor from Londonderry, said the media has made too much of the speech, a sentiment echoed by others.

"I think he was too tame to tell you the truth. I hope he doesn't back down," she said.

Gloria Kelley, 53, a union worker who attended one of his events, said she still has her doubts about Dean.

"He was over the top, wasn't he? It makes you wonder about his judgment," she said. Then a smile crept across her face, and she said, "I think I'll give him a second look, if the media doesn't mind."


EDITORS: Ron Fournier has covered politics for The Associated Press since 1993.

01-23-2004, 05:31 PM

The Phony Dean 'Meltdown'

New York-based Russ Baker is an award-winning journalist who covers politics and media.

The so-called Dean "meltdown," the claims that his campaign is finished, and his forced contrition are all symptoms of how debased the political dialogue has become.

It's true that Dean yelled at his Monday night rally in Iowa. And so what? Basically, at a pep rally, he yelled like a football coach. This is described as being "unpresidential." But says who? Besides, what's the definition of 'presidential?' Isn't giving insulting nicknames to world leaders unpresidential? Isn't sending hundreds of American soldiers to die for uncertain and misrepresented ends in Iraq unpresidential—or worth considering as such? Isn't having an incredibly poor grasp of essential world facts and an aversion to detail and active decision making unpresidential?

As far as I can tell, the worst Howard Dean has done is to try to be himself. (And, when criticized for that, to show some willingness to alter his demeanor.) But neither of those is good enough for a media that smells a good story—allegedly about personality, much more interesting than issues.

We saw and see nearly every news outlet playing the footage of the rally again and again. We see headlines in the less-cautious papers about Dean "imploding," and gleeful spin from Republican strategists that Dean is "finished."

From Slate magazine ("Mean Dean Loses Steam") to The New York Post ("Dean's Ballot-Box Conspiracy Theory"), it's all about painting him as unseemly, unstable and irrationally angry, rather than focusing on his ideas. And yet, carefully scrutinized, virtually everything the man has said accords with the beliefs and understanding of a significant portion of the American populace, and, significantly, of what has been reported in the media.

But once something like this "meltdown" story gets started, the media go into a kind of inexorable black hole, and the pull is so great it becomes hard for thinking journalists and editors to resist. And not just journalists. It takes extraordinary mettle for anyone in the limelight to resist this. Once the howl of the pack gets loud enough, questioning the seriousness of Dean's so-called 'problems' becomes tantamount to downplaying allegations against Michael Jackson.

Sometimes it's hard to remember, but presidents aren't primarily dinner party hosts or recruiting posters for perfection. They're supposed to be smart people who can make intelligent choices, mostly in private, that serve our interests. And they're supposed to be human.

Ed Muskie probably wouldn't have been a bad president, nor would George Romney or John McCain, all of whom got slammed for showing quintessentially human traits on the campaign trail. Muskie didn't like his wife being attacked; Romney admitted to having been "brainwashed" on Vietnam (obviously less so than those fellow GOPsters who couldn't admit their mistakes), and McCain was charmingly blunt if occasionally brutish. As each could attest, candor isn't a priority in this society. People want to hear what makes them feel good and safe and strong, no matter the reality.

As for Dean, one doesn't need to take sides to see that the treatment of this man is unbecoming of the media. It's also going to be seen in retrospect as colossally one-sided, not in any way balanced by comparable scrutiny or criticism of his rivals.

If anything, this affair is a kind of test. Dean seems too tough a customer to back out after such a setback. And the fact remains that he essentially still holds exactly the same constituency he did before. If his supporters keep their eye on the ball, if Dean refuses to be distracted or rattled, and if the media somehow manage to restrain their headlong rush into tabloid-land, this country may yet have a meaningful conversation on what really matters.

01-23-2004, 05:39 PM
Defending Dean's Scream

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2004

(CBS) This Against the Grain commentary was written by CBSNews.com's Dick Meyer.

I'm not being contrarian for the sake of being contrarian, honest. But I don't think Howard Dean's "I Have A Scream" performance was weird, troubling, scary, revealing or nuts. I don't think it was a big deal in any way, shape or form. I thought it was standard pump-up-the-troops campaign stuff.

What I do think is bizarre is the hubbub it caused.

Caveat 1: I recognize that many people saw Mad How and saw a man coming unglued, a weirdo out of control, and their perceptions were not filtered by the punditocracy (my mother-in-law, for one influential example). They don't want his finger on the trigger. We differ, that's what makes horse races, that's cool.

Caveat 2: The Scream is now a fact of political life. And it's hurt Dean badly. That's not going to change. It tapped into a long-simmering feeling among Dean-watchers (ok, the Washington press establishment) that he has a poor temperament for the White House; that's he's a hothead, a bully, a chesty, argumentative, inflated, pushy guy you wouldn't want in your poker game.

Caveat 3: I'm biased. Not because I like Dean, but because I have defended his right-to-gaffe several times. I've been extremely critical of some of his policies and propaganda, but I can't bear the press' preoccupation with bloopers and gaffes, like Dean's Confederate flag remark. This is where I am contrarian. Not only is gaffe-itis petty and unenlightening, it turns our politics into boring oatmeal. It commands our politicians to be scripted actors. Dean wasn't that and I always thought that was his most likable feature and the key to his attraction.

It's another fact of life that Dean gave the late-night comedians great material. The Dean Scream jokes are terrific, as is the gag picture someone just e-mailed of the offending Dean choking a cat.

But the press corps' decision that the Scream was serious is a bit more disturbing. One of the many character flaws common to the species 'reporter' -- one that I have in spades -- is an exaggerated pleasure in the fall of the mighty. There is some of that happening with Dean right now. I don't get too worked up about the media "making" or "creating" stories; there is no way for that not to happen in modern government and politics. But this time I do think Dean is getting a very bad rap.

From what I have heard, the reporters in the room when Dean allegedly wigged out didn't think there was anything odd about it. It seemed appropriate and unremarkable. He was talking to some 3,000 volunteers, many young, who had worked devotedly for his campaign. He wanted to keep them pumped and he did what politicians and coaches do at pep rallies.

I've looked at the tape many times and that's how it plays for me. Sure, if he had done it during a State of the Union speech or an appearance before the Council on Foreign Relations, it would have been crazy. But this was a rally. So spare me.

I've seen a lot of politicians do a lot weirder things. I've seen Ronald Reagan completely space out an answer during a presidential debate. I've seen Bush the Elder rumble on about how moose like to rub up to the Alaskan pipeline for, shall we say, gratification. I've heard Bush the Younger speak absolutely incomprehensible, illiterate gibberish on important issues. I've seen Bob Dole get really, really mad. I've listened to Newt Gingrich's college lectures. I've seen Tom DeLay fly to Texas when a gunman entered the Capitol. I've seen Bill Clinton drag his poor wife onto primetime television to defend himself.

I wish Dean hadn't renounced the Scream. His wife said it was "silly" and I think that's about the full extent of it.

One final gripe: the other thing I really like about Dean is that he thus far has refused to indulge in the "my personal tragedy" game. He doesn't trot out stories of his son's illness, his mill worker dad, his salvation from demon rum. He shouldn't. He's running for president. I admire him for that. I was not pleased to see him submit his wife to Diane Sawyer, though Mrs. Dean was charming.

But in the weeks before Iowa a couple of articles and op-ed pieces criticized Dean for not being "autobiographical" enough. If there's one thing we don't need more of in politics, or any forum of public life, it's more autobiography. We pundits always point how manipulative politicians are when they do sob stories, and now we're attacking Dean for not doing them. We can be such rats.

Similarly, we constantly bemoan how scripted politics has become, and then we jump on any gaffe or misstatement, as with Dean. We can be such rats.

Politicians can, too, of course, including Howard Dean. But on the charge of disqualification for office because of insane screaming, he's innocent.

Dick Meyer, the Editorial Director of CBSNews.com, has covered politics and government in Washington for 20 years and has won the Investigative Reporters and Editors, Alfred I. Dupont, and Society of Professional Journalists awards for investigative journalism.

Dr. Love
01-23-2004, 06:19 PM

John Ashcroft
01-23-2004, 09:07 PM
Heh heh heh...

Hey guys, lighten up! After all, he does wear cheap suits sometimes... (I should stress only sometimes.)

01-24-2004, 10:48 AM

Helpful hints for Howard Dean

The silliness of Howard Dean’s post-Iowa antics have officially gone from a funny late-night joke to a sole excuse for media pundits to claim that "Dean’s campaign is done." "Would you want to see that man with is finger on the nuclear button?" asked Pat Buchanan, Joe Scarborough, etc.

So, since such a gaffe is a clear indicator that Dean is truly unfit to be the leader of the free world, here’s a helpful list of things Dean can do to remove the image that he is a bumbling, inexperienced, lackluster example of leadership:

* Announce proudly that no president has ever done as much as him for human rights.
* Dress up in a crotch-accentuating flight suit and land a jet on an aircraft carrier.
* Brag repeatedly about a sub-standard college grade point average.
* Get arrested for public rowdiness at a football game.
* Attempt to recite a cliché adage at a press conference and promptly forget how it goes in the middle of saying it.
* Mount, and promptly fall off, an unpowered Segway scooter.
* Drop his dog in front of cameras.
* Consistently mispronounce the word "nuclear."
* Condescendingly mock the upcoming execution of a death row inmate.
* Trade away Sammy Sosa.
* Choke on pretzel bits to the point of losing balance and bruising his head.
* Attend a public event in which Stevie Wonder is performing and wave to him from the balcony.

Hopefully, Dr. Dean can get a few of these confidence-gaining moves in before the New Hampshire primary. After all, image is everything.

01-24-2004, 10:57 AM
I agree with doc:



01-25-2004, 12:14 AM
Howard Dean is history...

01-25-2004, 01:18 AM
Keep drinking that corporate media Kool Aid, Elvis.

Once again, only one elected President out of the last 32 years won the Iowa caucus. Clinton came in second in New Hampshire for that matter, in 1992.

Dean has come back a long way since Monday night. The endless replaying of the speech is starting to have exactly the opposite of the effect that the Media, Karl Rove, and Terry McUseless wanted. People are looking at this and seeing a man who really gives a shit about doing what's right. A human being, not a media fabrication like Bush Jr.

01-25-2004, 09:03 AM
The second look is just to confirm what they know in the first place. Howie is not Presidential material. :gulp:

John Ashcroft
01-25-2004, 09:46 AM

01-25-2004, 11:04 AM
And who is "presidential material"??

The lying moron currently occupying the White House?

Another Skull & Bones poster boy supported by the corporatist division of the supposed opposition party?

Or maybe a guy who looks remarkably like Senator Palpatine, and shares the same beliefs about empires as opposed to Republics,

If Abe Lincoln, FDR & his cousin Teddy, Harry Truman and Jack & Bobby were alive right now, I know who they would be endorsing. Just like President Gore and President Bartlett ;)

01-25-2004, 11:08 AM
You are sounding delusional my friend...;)

01-25-2004, 11:19 AM
I know what is presidential material:
1. A man that gets a hummer form an intern in the Oval Office then denies it.
2. A man who flips his car in a river, leaving his female passenger to die (oh, wait, we was Pres. his brother was so...)
3. A man who has an affair with a well known Hollywood actress then has her "silenced"

01-25-2004, 11:30 AM
Originally posted by SilvioDante
I know what is presidential material:
1. A man that gets a hummer form an intern in the Oval Office then denies it.
2. A man who flips his car in a river, leaving his female passenger to die (oh, wait, we was Pres. his brother was so...)
3. A man who has an affair with a well known Hollywood actress then has her "silenced"

And none of those guys are running this year, so that's entirely irrelevant.

John Ashcroft
01-25-2004, 12:20 PM
Who's President Gore? Never heard of him...

01-25-2004, 12:53 PM
Originally posted by FORD
And none of those guys are running this year, so that's entirely irrelevant.

No they are not, but you were discussing what presidential material was, and (I am gonna take a stab at this) since this a party line discussion, I was just pointing out that 2 of the "greatest" presidents (according to the media) have had skeletons.

Dean is a huge turkey, stick a fork in him, he is DONE. All the spin in the world you post isn't gonna save him now....

01-25-2004, 12:56 PM
BTW - Say what you want about the 2000 election, if that dufus Gore couldn't even win the state we refers to as his home, although he is about as much a Tennessean ad Hillary Clinton is a New Yorker, the he doesn't deserve to be Presedent.

01-25-2004, 03:04 PM
Originally posted by SilvioDante
BTW - Say what you want about the 2000 election, if that dufus Gore couldn't even win the state we refers to as his home, although he is about as much a Tennessean ad Hillary Clinton is a New Yorker, the he doesn't deserve to be Presedent.

Funny, I always thought he was born and raised in Tennessee.

Anyway, why do YOU think Al Gore lost Tennessee? I'd be intrested in hearing a "local" opinion of why he lost the state to see if it confirms my suspicions.

01-25-2004, 09:28 PM
Originally posted by FORD
Funny, I always thought he was born and raised in Tennessee.

Anyway, why do YOU think Al Gore lost Tennessee? I'd be intrested in hearing a "local" opinion of why he lost the state to see if it confirms my suspicions.

algore was primarily raised in a Washington D.C. hotel room. He spent for time in DC than in TN.

01-25-2004, 09:57 PM
Originally posted by BigBadBrian
algore was primarily raised in a Washington D.C. hotel room. He spent for time in DC than in TN.

Thank you Brian!

Like I said, Al Gore is as much a Tennessean as Hillary Clinton is a New Yorker. His family owned a farm in Carthage, but he went to school and was basically raised in D.C.. His dad was a Senator so he was never hear.

If you were waiting for some right-wing conspiracy, sorry to disappoint....