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Jewish World Review July 13, 2004 / 24 Tamuz, 5764

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Dean comes clean | A few weeks ago, I went to Burlington, Vt., to interview Howard Dean for a long piece I was doing on the Iowa caucuses, where Dean lost badly. Below is a portion of that interview:

ME: What went wrong in Iowa?

DEAN: I can't tell you because I don't know Iowa. I know a lot about New England and I know a lot about how to run primary elections. I knew nothing about how to run caucuses so I just left that to everybody else, who had a lot of experience running caucuses and to this day I don't know what happened. Kerry ran a great campaign, I don't think we should take anything away from John Kerry. I mean, there was this sustained, persistent campaign. And Edwards ran a great campaign. And Gephardt and I did not run great campaigns. And that's the way it was.

ME: You were being told right up to the end you were going to win Iowa. What happened to all your voters?

DEAN: At some point after November I'll figure out what went wrong with the count. That kind of stuff is worth doing. There's a million reasons (I lost): Edwards got endorsed by the Des Moines Register; Kerry ran a terrific campaign in the last three weeks, I mean there are million things. Every campaign makes huge mistakes, every one of them. And the losers have to chose which mistake did them in and the winners get absolved of all of them. And so, you know, what is to be gained by all this? There's nothing to be gained by "kiss and tell" articles blaming people inside the campaign, which is why I don't get into that because everybody has made mistakes in every campaign, so what's the point in singling people out?

And there's nothing to be gained by going back and saying, "Well, if I had only done this, and if I had only done that" because, you, you know, "There but for the grace of G-d go I". A lot of its momentum. And you know we don't have a lot of control about that. I mean, we could go through and have 10 theories about why John Kerry won and why we lost, and one of those theories would be right but we don't know which one and we're never going to know.

ME: But you must have some regrets.

DEAN: The one thing I really regret for the sake of the country, not for the campaign, is not asking Judy (Dean's wife, Dr. Judith Steinberg) to come out earlier. Because after she came out we got tons of mail from women saying, "Oh, my G-d, I didn't have any realization that a normal person could actually do this; you're a great inspiration to us." And that I thought was great. And she was, of course, much better at it than I ever imagined her to be and she liked it, much to my astonishment. She's never going to give up her medical practice to do this, unless I win some day.

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ME: You don't rule out running for president again.

DEAN: Certainly not. I hope I won't have to think about that until 2012. And I'm not going to think about it at all until November. I want Kerry to win in the worst way.

ME: When you were running, were you trying to run a movement or become president of the United States?

DEAN: In the beginning, I said the three things I wanted to do are change the Democratic Party, change the country, and become President of the United States.

ME: In that order?

DEAN: That's the order I always said.

ME: Did you succeed?

DEAN: I don't think we're going to know whether we succeeded — well, I'm obviously not going to become President of the United States in 2004 — but the other two we don't know whether we succeeded or not. If John Kerry doesn't win, we haven't changed the country. And we may or may not have changed the Democratic Party, we have in the short term, but whether we have in the long term or not, we'll have to see.

And, you know, this instrument is called the retrospective-scope that we're using.

ME: And where is the retrospective-scope inserted?

DEAN: It depends on who you're using it on.

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