Howard Dean, Not Sanjay Gupta, for Surgeon General?

Some associates are renewing their efforts to make Dean the nation's top doc.

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By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

Following Sanjay Gupta's surprise decision to withdraw from consideration to be the U.S. surgeon general under President Obama, allies of former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean are dusting off a previous effort to win him the post. Associates say that the campaign is just beginning, and they believe that they have time since Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, sprang the decision only yesterday. Dean is a practicing family doctor who has proposed a major infant care program that he is looking to pilot in a New York school. He wanted to run the Health and Human Services Department but wasn't seriously considered by the president. Dean has expressed his disappointment at being passed over but has made sure not to disparage the president or his transition team.

The same associates who are renewing their campaign to get him into the new administration suggest that Dean isn't keen on taking the surgeon general's job, however. One reason: It's not a very high-profile job, although it is a key one in the public health arena. His associates say that Dean, who has taken a post in Washington with a legal firm involved in health and energy policy, is more interested in pushing his pilot program for children 3 and under. "I've heard about the draft-Dean campaign, but I don't think he's interested," a Dean ally not associated with the draft movement tells Whispers. "It's not a particularly substantive policy position. I also think he's enjoying what he's doing."

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