December 25, 2003


Dean, Under Attack, Revives Feisty Style (JODI WILGOREN, 12/25/03, NY Times)

Swatting away attacks from all corners in the 10 days since the capture of Saddam Hussein, Howard Dean has returned to the combative posture that propelled his insurgent candidacy to the front of the field this fall. Denunciations of "Washington Democrats" once again dominate his speeches, even as he complains that negativity has taken over the primary campaign.

It is a clear contrast from just two weeks ago when Dr. Dean, buoyed by the backing of several major unions, former Vice President Al Gore and a swelling crowd of elected officials, was beginning to change his style. Smiling more than finger-thrusting, he fancied himself a frontrunner above the fray, experimenting — briefly — with a more moderate tone, as he kept one eye on the general electorate.

But the relentless battering has stymied his effort to look long range, forcing him to hunker down in the final month before the first votes.

"Ultimately, if I'm going to be the nominee, I have to broaden the message," Dr. Dean, the former governor of Vermont, said recently in an interview as his van shuttled between town-hall-style meetings on the snowy streets of New Hampshire. "I know that, and I was starting to do it. But you can't do it if every day you know Joe Lieberman is calling you incompetent and John Kerry is whining about something else. There's not much sense in broadening the message if I'm not the nominee."

No one in the modern history of the presidency has ever changed the image of himself that people took away from the primaries. In fact, the brilliance of the Gore strategy in 2000 was that having been pushed Left by the Bradley challenge he just stayed there, instead of trying to get back to the Right, where his boss had run. If Dean is to mount a serious challenge it will be by turning out the base as well as Gore did, not by placating moderates.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 25, 2003 9:10 AM

"you can't do it if every day you know Joe Lieberman is calling you incompetent and John Kerry is whining about something else."

Of course you can, just watch President Bush. Merry Christmas to you and yours Orrin! Thank you for your gift to us of this website.

Posted by: Rick T. at December 25, 2003 9:17 AM

This is the first time I have heard Gore's strategy in the 2000 campaign referred to with "brilliance." Gore and brilliance are two words that I have never heard in the same sentence without a negative modifier in there somewhere.

Posted by: Michael Gersh at December 25, 2003 8:52 PM