Howard Dean: 'This Is Just a Firestorm'
U.S. News sat down this week with Howard Dean, the Democratic National Committee chair and former presidential hopeful, to discuss the Mark Foley scandal, Dean's controversial strategy to put up serious Democratic candidates in all 50 states, and his expectations for the 2006 (and 2008) elections.
On Rep. Mark Foley
For those who have known what this group of Republicans is about, it's not a surprise that this should happen. They've put the interests of their party ahead of the interests of America and they've done it for six years.. We're staying away from it, to be honest with you. I don't want this to be seen as partisan. We'll do gentle reminders, of course, and people will use it in their ads, but you know, I think that this is just a firestorm. I had airport mechanics talking to me about it on the road. I mean, when that starts to happen, you know this is an issue that matters a lot.
On calls for Speaker Dennis Hastert to resign
I'm not going to say somebody should resign or something like that. But I will say this: [Rep.] Ray LaHood [an Illinois Republican] says they should get rid of the page program. They should not get rid of the page program. They should get rid of the people who run the page program, and that's the Republican leadership. In the past, when things like this happened, they acted in unison in a bipartisan way to deal with it. Here they keep [Rep.] Dale Kildee [a Michigan Democrat] in the dark; they never even told the Democrats who were supervising the page program about this. They didn't let our side of the aisle know. Why? Because, they considered this a political problem. This is not a political problem. This is a human problem, and it should have been dealt with a year ago.
On allocating money to campaigns
One of our problems is that the races keep expanding. By this time, you're usually narrowing the number of races and pulling funding away from people who can't win. We've got people who were not on the radar of either the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] or the [Republican National Congressional Committee] and they have a chance.
On the Senate
Originally there were three or four defensive races, and now we're probably going to win three of them, and I'm not going to tell you which ones because you can figure it out for yourselves. We probably only have one incumbent in a Democratic seat that's really in jeopardy.
On predictions for 2006
I'm not going to make any predictions. The last time I made a prediction, it was in 1980, and I said, "God, thank heavens Ronald Reagan got the nomination." Everything surprises me about the cycle so far. If I had asked you 12 months ago or even six months ago, what are the reasonable possibilities that the Democrats would take back the House and the Senate and pick up four, five, or six governorships, I think we all would have thought that Howard Dean was spouting the party line and it was all bull----. And the truth is that that's a reasonable possibility right now.