DNC Chairman and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean was interviewed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Thursday, discussing the Superdelegates and the primary in general. Here’s a video, with my transcript below:
Blitzer: You have suggested, though, you want this thing resolved before July 1st, long before the Democratic Convention in Denver at the end of August.
Dean: That’s right—um—and that is really—there’s about 65, roughly, percent of the Superdelegates have voted. There’s about 320 some-odd left to vote. I need them to say who they’re for starting now. They really do need to do that. We cannot give up 2 or 3 months of active campaigning and healing time.
Even DEAN realizes that the party is going to need healing time, after Clinton and Obama keep tearing each other aprt.
We’ve got to know who our nominee is, and there’s reason not to know after the last primary on June 3rd. So, the Superdelegates have actually been pretty good so far. They’ve trickled in. They’ve made their alliances known as things have gone on, and they need to keep doing that so we get all this wrapped up in June.
Blitzer: Should they make their decisions … based on the popular vote, the pledged delegate count, the electoral college [Dean chuckles], states—the most states won, or whatever’s in their gut—who they think’s most electable.
Dean: The rules say they should vote their conscience, and I think that’s pretty good advice. My job is to enforce the rules. You can agree with them or not agree with them, but they’re gonna vote their conscience, and I think that’s what they’re called upon to do.
Blitzer: You know, it’s really … to a lot of the pundits, surprising is how well John McCain does in these hypothetical match-ups against either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in some key states. … Why is John McCain doing as well as he is doing, given the state of the economy, given the unpopularity of the War in Iraq?
Dean: Uh, well, I don’t think John McCain is doing so well. For him, with no opponent and nobody criticizing him and getting much publicity doing so, he’s in the low 40’s. Our candidates are having a really spirited contest, and they’re in the low 40’s. When people know John McCain, when they know that he just proposed 8 billion dollars worth of spending, essentially tax cuts, without saying how he’s gonna pay for it, it appears that he’s just another 4 years of George Bush.
He’ll pay for it by vetoing anything with earmarks, like he’s promised. When you don’t spend 17% of a Democratic-sponsored Iraq appropriations bill on pork, you don’t have a budget problem.
That’s what we got from George Bush—100 years in Iraq.
Like I’ve said, it doesn’t matter how long we’re there, but how MANY of us are there. We’re still in Korea folks, and it’s been roughly 50 years. I don’t hear anybody complaining about us not bringing home those troops.
Well, you know, I don’t think people are gonna sign on to that platform. So, I don’t think—I’ve said for a long time the polls don’t mean anything—right now, in terms of November, and I’ll be consistent and say it again—I’m not worried about the polls. What I want is a fair process to name a good Democratic nominee, which I’m convinced we’re gonna have, then we’ll see what the polls say when we know who are nominee is.
Blitzer: Well how worried are you though, as the leader of the Democratic Party, that Hillary Clinton’s attacking Barack Obama on a whole host of issues, and vice versa, that they’re chipping away at each other—they’re diminishing each other, potentially to the advantage of John McCain.
Dean: Well, you know—sure, you worry about that some, and I think we should focus on Iraq and—and tax policy and the economy and so forth. [Unintelligible] have to say the media is a big part of that, as well—they seem to like the attacks more than the substance, but I have to say also, that if you actually listen to what our candidates are saying, the American people are gonna agree with them. They do not want to continue George Bush’s give everything to the millionaires and gazillionaires tax policies and run up huge deficits. They do not want to continue the War in Iraq when we need so much help here at home and American jobs are being lost. They do believe that we oughta join every other democracy in the world and have health care for all our people, which John McCain has voted against and said he doesn’t support. John McCain is just completely out of step with where the American people are, and I think, in the end, we’re gonna win. John McCain is just a step backwards and the American people are looking for a step forwards.
He has a good plan that would allow for more healthy competition between companies, instead of shoving the government into the private lives of people like Obama and Clinton want to do.
So, Dean has essentially said what he’s been saying all along, specifically, “Superdelegates, decide ASAP, but definitely by June 3rd.” And he’s made it clear that he doesn’t think that either candidate should drop out yet (at least that’s his official position). He doesn’t want a convention fight though (and what Democrat other than Clinton supporters would?).
So, all we Republicans can do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
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