Promises from the Democratic National Committee that it plans to focus hard on Sen. John McCain as the likely GOP presidential nominee have folks over at the Republican National Committee asking, where is Chairman Howard Dean? "If they are going to take McCain on, why are they using surrogates? Where's the chairman?" asks a GOP official. Good question. As the DNC anti-McCain campaign has unfolded, Dean has been kind of absent, even bailing from a media roundtable last Friday because of "a scheduling issue which will have him out of Washington that day," according to the organizer.
Hold on, says the DNC. It notes that the former 2004 presidential candidate has actually been on the road organizing his troops for the general election and, thus, not available to press McCain in person. He has used E-mail, though. One went to 3.5 million people the day after McCain's Super Tuesday victories, explaining how the Democrats will beat McCain. "I don't just want to beat John McCain — I want it to be a landslide," Dean E-mailed. The DNC also E-mailed a list of Dean's efforts, seen here. Here's what DNC Communications Director Karen Finney told us today: "Just like John McCain, the RNC is simply wrong. Rather than sitting in an office in D.C., Chairman Dean is on the road working hard to help energize Democrats and ensure that we elect a Democrat in November. The RNC should worry less about Howard Dean and more about electing John McCain who has clearly sold out his principles to secure the Republican nomination."
Some outside the DNC, however, have a thought on why Dean has been staying out of the TV lights' glare: While he would love to take on McCain, he wants to stay out of the fight between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton over superdelegates, an issue reporters want a comment on.