18
Feb
04

Dean to Announce Plans Today (washingtonpost.com)

Dean to Announce Plans Today (washingtonpost.com): “Dean to Announce Plans Today
Various Reports Speculate on Future of Campaign
By Fred Barbash and Jonathan Finer
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, February 18, 2004; 10:13 AM
Howard Dean, the one-time front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president, scheduled an announcement of some sort from Burlington, Vt., at 1 p.m. in the wake of his third place showing in Wisconsin’s primary election, which he had once described as a make or break state. Speculation and anonymously sourced stories today variously had Dean dropping out, dropping out but remaining on ballots, suspending his campaign, recasting his campaign and saying nothing conclusive so he can think things over.

Tuesday night, Dean talked with Edwards, the second place finisher in Wisconsin, prompting more speculation that Dean might endorse the North Carolinian.

Edwards said on morning news programs that the conversation was “typical” and did not include a discussion of Dean’s plans.

“The decision about what Governor Dean’s going to do is entirely for him to make,” Edwards said on the CBS “Early Show.” “I would never presume to be involved in that. And he’s made an enormous contribution to this campaign, bringing in lots of people who otherwise wouldn’t have been involved, particularly young people. I think he’s made a very impressive candidate.

“But if he chooses not to go forward, of course I’d want his support. I mean, I think this fighting for change, the things that — some of the things that he’s been fighting for are very similar to some of the things that I’ve been fighting for. Both of us believe Washington has to change.”

The former Vermont governor’s fall from the heights is likely to go down as one of the great lessons learned in the disparity between hope and hype.

Universally hailed as the leader of the pack before any votes were cast, Dean proceeded to lose every contest he entered. His best showing in primary elections was New Hampshire, where he secured 26 percent of the vote, good enough only for second place in a state where he had concentrated his efforts.

He has acknowledged that his animated speech after his loss in the Iowa caucuses–a much ridiculed moment–probably contributed to his loss in New Hampshire. If nothing else, it turned the would-be president of the United States into a late-night TV caricature.

After that, he was unable to attract more than 18 percent anywhere, with embarrassing lows of 5 percent (South Carolina), 7 percent (Virginia) and 10 percent (Delaware.)

During the past week, his campaign organization seemed particularly disorganized, with Dean publicly contradicting his campaign chairman about the candidate’s post-Wisconsin plans.

Edwards, meanwhile, worked to turn defeat into victory, which technically belonged to Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) once again.

While losing to Kerry by six percentage points in Wisconsin, he said the results nonetheless mean “I’m the best person to beat George Bush,” as he said on CBS, “because in order to win the general election in the fall, we have to be able to attract independent voters. You know, the electorate’s basically a third Democrats, a third independents and a third Republicans, and we have to be able to attract those people to be able to win. And Wisconsin was just another in a long series of examples that those folks vote for me, which is what we’ll have to have to win in the fall.”

Dean had a light-hearted flight home Tuesday night. Boarding a charter flight from Madison, Wis., he walked the aisles of the plane, signing T-shirts, and “cheese-head” souvenirs for members of the media traveling along with him, and joking that the campaign would be heading to Hawaii next week.

Dean was greeted on the tarmac at the Burlington airport by a few dozen supporters and volunteers when he landed at around 1:30 this morning.

“I can’t believe you guys are all the way out here,” he said, as they chanted his name. Asked if he was happy to be home, he said “It’s a delight. It’s a great delight” before driving off in a car with a top aide.

Reporters, who had been told that nothing was planned for Wednesday, were then informed in the terminal that an “event” had been scheduled for 1 p.m.

He helped unload baggage from the flight, including at least five cases of root beer acquired on a factory tour in Wisconsin.

Finer reported from Burlington, Vt.

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