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Main article: "Howard Dean presidential campaign, 2004
Howard Dean declared his candidacy for the 2004 Democratic Party presidential nomination on June 23, 2003, in Burlington, Vermont

Dean began his bid for President as a "long shot" candidate. "ABC News ranked him eighth out of 12 in a list of potential presidential contenders in May 2002. In March 2003 he gave a speech strongly critical of the Democratic leadership at the California State Democratic Convention that attracted the attention of grassroots party activists and set the tone and the agenda of his candidacy. It began with the line: "What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President's unilateral intervention in Iraq?"

That summer, his campaign was featured as the cover article in "The New Republic and in the following months he received expanded media attention. His campaign slowly gained steam, and by autumn of 2003, Dean had become the apparent frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, performing strongly in most polls and outpacing his rivals in fundraising. This latter feat was attributed mainly to his innovative embrace of the Internet for campaigning, using "Meetup.com to track supporters and encourage grassroots participation in the campaign. The majority of his donations came from individual Dean supporters, who came to be known as Deanites, or, more commonly, Deaniacs, a term coined to describe meetup participants, who passed out campaign materials supporting Dean and the broader movement.[29][30] (Critics often labeled them "Deany Boppers", or "Deanie Babies", a reference to his support from young activists.["citation needed]) Following Dean's presidential campaign, some Deaniacs remained engaged in the political process through "Democracy for America and similar locally oriented organizations.

During his presidential campaign, "conservative critics labeled Dean's political views as those of an extreme "liberal; however in Vermont, Dean, long known as a staunch advocate of fiscal restraint, was regarded as a moderate. Many left-wing critics who supported fellow Democrat "Dennis Kucinich or independent "Ralph Nader charged that, at heart, Dean was a ""Rockefeller Republican"—socially liberal, while fiscally conservative.[31][32]

Message and themes[edit]

Dean began his campaign by emphasizing health care[3] and fiscal responsibility, and championing "grassroots fundraising as a way to fight "lobby groups. However, his opposition to the "U.S. plan to invade Iraq (and his forceful criticism of Democrats in Congress who voted to authorize the use of force) quickly eclipsed other issues. By challenging the war in Iraq at a time when mainstream Democratic leaders were either neutral or cautiously supportive, Dean positioned himself to appeal to his party's activist base. Dean often quoted the late Minnesota Senator "Paul Wellstone (who had recently died in a plane crash) as saying that he represented "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." His message resonated among frustrated Democratic primary voters who felt that their party hadn't done enough to oppose the policies of the Republicans. Thus, Dean also succeeded in differentiating himself from his primary opponents.

Dean's approach organizationally was also novel. His campaign made extensive use of the Internet, pioneering techniques that were subsequently adopted by politicians of all political persuasions. His supporters organized real-world meetings, many of them arranged through "Meetup.com, participated in online forums, donated money online, canvassed for advertising ideas, and distributed political talking points. In terms of money, publicity and activism, Dean therefore quickly staked out a leadership position in the field of candidates. In this way, he was able to bypass existing party and activist infrastructure and built his own online network of supporters. In terms of traditional "ground troops", however, Dean remained at a disadvantage. Dean adopted a coffee shop strategy to visit grassroot activists in all 99 Iowa "counties, but he lacked the campaign infrastructure to "get voters to the polls that his opponents had.


In the ""Invisible Primary" of raising campaign funds, Howard Dean led the Democratic pack in the early stages of the 2004 campaign. Among the candidates, he ranked first in total raised ($25.4 million as of September 30, 2003) and first in cash-on-hand ($12.4 million). However, even this performance paled next to that of "George W. Bush, who by that date had raised $84.6 million for the Republican primary campaign, in which he had no strong challenger. Prior to the 2004 primary season, the Democratic record for most money raised in one quarter by a primary candidate was held by "Bill Clinton in 1995, raising $10.3 million during a campaign in which he had no primary opponent. In the third quarter of 2003, the Dean campaign raised $14.8 million, shattering Clinton's record. All told, Dean's campaign raised around $50 million.

While presidential campaigns have traditionally obtained finance by tapping wealthy, established political donors, Dean's funds came largely in small donations over the Internet; the average overall donation was just under $80. This method of fundraising offered several important advantages over traditional fundraising, in addition to the inherent media interest in what was then a novelty. First, raising money on the Internet was relatively inexpensive, compared to conventional methods such as events, telemarketing, and direct mail campaigns. Secondly, as donors on average contributed far less than the legal limit ($2,000 per person), the campaign could continue to resolicit them throughout the election season.

Dean's director of grassroots fundraising, Larry Biddle, came up with the idea of the popular fundraising "bat", an image of a cartoon baseball player and bat which appeared on the site every time the campaign launched a fundraising challenge. The bat encouraged Web site visitors to contribute money immediately through their credit cards. This would lead to the bat filling up like a thermometer with the red color indicating the total funds. The site often took suggestions from the "netroots on their blog. One of these suggestions led to one of the campaign's biggest accomplishments– an image of Dean eating a turkey sandwich encouraged supporters to donate $250,000 in three days to match a big-donor dinner by Vice President Dick Cheney. The online contributions from that day matched what Cheney made from his fundraiser.[33]

In November 2003, after a much-publicized online vote among his followers, Dean became the first Democrat to forgo federal matching funds (and the spending limits that go with them) since the system was established in 1974. ("John Kerry later followed his lead.) In addition to state-by-state spending limits for the primaries, the system limits a candidate to spending only $44.6 million until the "Democratic National Convention in July, which sum would almost certainly run out soon after the early primary season. ("George W. Bush declined federal matching funds in 2000 and did so again for the 2004 campaign.)

In a sign that the Dean campaign was starting to think beyond the primaries, they began in late 2003 to speak of a "$100 revolution" in which two million Americans would give $100 in order to compete with Bush.

Political commentators have stated that the fundraising of "Barack Obama, with its emphasis on small donors and the internet, refined and built upon the model that Dean's campaign pioneered.[34]


Rob Reiner speaking at a Dean rally on October 29, 2003

Though Dean lagged in early endorsements, he acquired many critical ones as his campaign snowballed. By the time of the Iowa caucuses, he led among commitments from "superdelegates– elected officials and party officers entitled to convention votes by virtue of their positions. On November 12, 2003, he received the endorsements of the "Service Employees International Union and the "American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Dean received the endorsement of former Vice President and 2000 presidential candidate "Al Gore, on December 9, 2003.[35] In the following weeks Dean was endorsed by former U.S. senators "Bill Bradley and "Carol Moseley Braun, unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidates from the 2000 and 2004 primaries, respectively.

Other high-profile endorsers included:[36]

Several celebrities from the entertainment industry endorsed him: "Joan Jett, "Martin Sheen, "Rob Reiner, "Susan Sarandon, "Paul Newman, "Robin Williams,[38] and "Joseph Gordon-Levitt.[39]


Many pundits blamed such endorsements for the campaign's eventual collapse. In particular, Al Gore's early endorsement of Dean weeks before the first primary of the election cycle was severely criticized by eight Democratic contenders particularly since he did not endorse his former running mate, "Joe Lieberman.[40][41] Gore supported Dean over Lieberman due to their differing opinions on Iraq which began to develop around 2002 (Lieberman supported the war and Gore did not).[42] When Dean's campaign failed, some blamed Gore's early endorsement.[43]

Iowa Caucus setback and the "Dean Scream" media gaffe[edit]

On January 19, 2004, Dean's campaign suffered a staggering blow when a last-minute surge by rivals "John Kerry and "John Edwards led to a disappointing third-place finish for Dean in the "2004 Iowa Democratic caucuses, representing the first votes cast in "primary season. Dean's loud outburst in his public address that night was widely rebroadcast and portrayed as a media gaffe that ended his campaign.

According to a "Newsday editorial written by Verne Gay, some members of the television audience criticized the speech as loud, peculiar, and unpresidential.[44] In particular, this quote from the speech was aired repeatedly in the days following the caucus:

Not only are we going to New Hampshire, "Tom Harkin, we're going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we're going to California and Texas and New York.... And we're going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we're going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! ""About this sound Yeah! [45]

Senator Harkin was on stage with Dean, holding his suit jacket. This final "Yeah!" with its unusual tone that Dean later said was due to the cracking of his hoarse voice,[46] has become known in American political jargon as the "Dean Scream" or the "I Have A Scream" speech.[46][47] Comedians and late-night comedy show hosts such as "Dave Chappelle and "Conan O'Brien satirized, mocked, and popularized the sound bite,[47][48] beginning a media onslaught that many believe contributed immensely to his poor showing in the subsequent races.[49]

Dean conceded that the speech did not project the best image, jokingly referring to it as a "crazy, red-faced rant" on the "Late Show with David Letterman. In an interview later that week with "Diane Sawyer, he said he was "a little sheepish ... but I'm not apologetic."[50] Sawyer and many others in the national broadcast news media later expressed some regret about overplaying the story.[51] "CNN issued a public apology and admitted in a statement that they might have "overplayed" the incident. The incessant replaying of the "Dean Scream" by the press became a debate on the topic of whether Dean was the victim of "media bias. The scream scene was shown an estimated 633 times by cable and broadcast news networks in just four days following the incident, a number that does not include talk shows and local news broadcasts.[52] Some in the audience that day reported that they were unaware of the "scream" until they saw it on TV.[51] Dean said after the general election in 2004, that his microphone only picked up his voice and did not also capture the loud cheering he received from the audience as a result of the speech. On January 27, Dean finished second to Kerry in the "New Hampshire primary. As late as one week before the first votes were cast in Iowa's caucuses, Dean had enjoyed a 30% lead in New Hampshire opinion polls;["citation needed] accordingly, this loss represented another major setback to his campaign.

Iowa and New Hampshire were the first in a string of losses for the Dean campaign, culminating in a third place showing in the Wisconsin primary on February 17. Two days before the Wisconsin primary, campaign advisor "Steve Grossman announced through an article written by "The New York Times Dean campaign correspondent Jodi Wilgoren that he would offer his services to any of the other major candidates "should Dean not win in Wisconsin." This scoop further undermined Dean's campaign. Grossman later issued a public apology. The next day, Dean announced that his candidacy had "come to an end", though he continued to urge people to vote for him, so that Dean delegates would be selected for the convention and could influence the party platform. He later won the Vermont primary on "Super Tuesday, March 2. This latter victory, a surprise even to Dean, was due in part to the lack of a serious anti-Kerry candidate in Vermont (John Edwards had declined to put his name on the state's ballot, expecting Dean to win in a landslide), and in part to a television ad produced, funded, and aired in Vermont by grassroots Dean supporters.


"The New York Observer attributed Barack Obama's success in the "2008 presidential election to his perfection of the Internet organizing model that Dean pioneered.[53]

On October 11, 2007 it was reported that "Leonardo DiCaprio and "George Clooney were in early talks about making a "political thriller" based on Howard Dean's 2004 campaign, tentatively titled Farragut North.[54] The movie, finally titled "The Ides of March, was released on October 7, 2011. It is based on the play "Farragut North, which was named after the "Washington Metro station located in the center of the lobbyist district. The play was written by "Beau Willimon, a staffer on the Dean campaign. The main character is based on a former press secretary for the Dean campaign.

In November 2008, a documentary film about Dean and his campaign, "Dean and Me, was released and shown at several film festivals around the country.

Campaign timeline[edit]

U.S. Democratic Party presidential nomination, 2004 and "U.S. presidential election, 2004 timeline

Post-campaign and Democracy for America[edit]

Following Dean's withdrawal after the Wisconsin primary, he pledged to support the eventual Democratic nominee. He remained neutral until John Kerry became the "presumptive nominee. Dean endorsed Kerry on March 25, 2004, in a speech at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

On March 18, 2004, Dean founded the group "Democracy for America. This group was created to house the large, Internet-based organization Dean created for his presidential campaign. Its goal is to help like-minded candidates get elected to local, state, and federal offices. It has endorsed several sets of twelve candidates known as the "Dean Dozen. Dean turned over control of the organization to his brother, "Jim Dean, when he became Chairman of the "Democratic National Committee.

Dean strongly urged his supporters to support Kerry as opposed to "Ralph Nader, arguing that a vote for Nader would only help to re-elect President George W. Bush because he believed that most who vote for Nader are likely to have voted for Kerry if Ralph Nader was not running. Dean argued that Nader would be more effective if he lobbied on election law reform issues during his campaign. Dean supported several election law reform issues such as "campaign finance reform, and "Instant Runoff Voting.[55]

DNC Chairmanship[edit]

Democratic National Committee chairmanship election, 2005 and "Democratic National Committee chairmanship election, 2017
Dean speaking to supporters in Kansas City, Missouri

Dean was elected Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on February 12, 2005, after all his opponents dropped out of the race when it became apparent Dean had the votes to become Chair.[56] Those opponents included former Congressman "Martin Frost, former Denver Mayor "Wellington Webb, former Congressman and 9/11 Commissioner "Tim Roemer, and strategists "Donnie Fowler, "David Leland, and "Simon Rosenberg.

Many prominent Democrats opposed Dean's campaign; House Leader "Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader "Harry Reid are rumored to be among them.[57] Dean satisfied his critics by promising to focus on fundraising and campaigning as DNC Chair, and avoid policy statements. He was succeeded by "Tim Kaine, who at the time of his election was the Governor of "Virginia, in 2009.

Dean ran for the position a second time in 2016. Two days after "Hillary Clinton's defeat in the "2016 presidential election, he announced that he would again seek the chairmanship. There were other contenders at the time who had been endorsed by Senator "Bernie Sanders of "Vermont, and Senate Minority Leader-elect "Chuck Schumer of "New York.[58] On December 2, 2016, Dean withdrew his candidacy. [59]

During his 2005-9 tenure, he promoted a "fifty-state strategy" and developed innovative fund-raising strategies.

Fifty-state strategy[edit]

Fifty-state strategy
Dean at a Democratic Party event in "Pocatello, Idaho, August 2007

After Dean became Chairman of the DNC, he pledged to bring reform to the Party. Rather than focusing just on "swing states, Dean proposed what has come to be known as the "50-State Strategy, the goal of which was for the Democratic Party to be committed to winning elections at every level in every region of the country, with Democrats organized in every single "voting precinct. State party chairs lauded Dean for raising money directly for the individual state parties.

Dean's strategy used a post-Watergate model taken from the Republicans of the mid-seventies. Working at the local, state and national level, the GOP built the party from the ground up. Dean's plan was to seed the local level with young and committed candidates, building them into state candidates in future races. Dean traveled extensively throughout the country with the plan, including places like Utah, Mississippi, and Texas, states in which Republicans had dominated the political landscape. Many establishment Democrats were at least initially dubious about the strategy's worth—political consultant and former Bill Clinton advisor, "Paul Begala, suggested that Dean's plan was "just hiring a bunch of staff people to wander around Utah and Mississippi and pick their nose."[60] Further changes were made in attempting to make the stated platform of the Democratic Party more coherent and compact. Overhauling the website, the official platform of the 2004 campaign, which was largely criticized as avoiding key issues and being the product of party insiders, was replaced with a simplified, though comprehensive categorizing of positions on a wide range of issues.

Dean's strategy arguably paid off in a historic victory as the Democrats took over control of the "House of Representatives and the "Senate in the "2006 mid-term elections. While it is likely this is also attributable to the shortcomings of the Republican Party in their dealings with the "Iraq War and the scandals that occurred shortly before the election, Dean's emphasis on connecting with socially conservative, economic moderates in Republican-dominated states appears to have made some impact. Indeed, Democratic candidates won elections in such "red states as Kansas, Indiana, and Montana. And while former Clinton strategist "James Carville criticized Dean's efforts, saying more seats could have been won with the traditional plan of piling money solely into close races, the results and the strategy were met with tremendous approval by the party's executive committee in its December 2006 meeting.[61] While he was chairman of the DCCC, "Rahm Emanuel was known to have had disagreements over election strategy with Dean; Emanuel believed a more tactical approach, focusing attention on key districts, was necessary to ensure victory.[62] Emanuel himself was criticised for his failure to support some progressive candidates, as Dean advocated.[63]

Dean conducts convention business on the first day of the "2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

The 50-state strategy relied on the idea that building the Democratic Party is at once an incremental election by election process as well as a long-term vision in party building. Democrats cannot compete in counties in which they do not field candidates. Therefore, candidate recruitment emerged as a component element of the 50-state strategy.

To build the party, the DNC under Dean worked in partnership with state Democratic parties in bringing the resources of the DNC to bear in electoral efforts, voter registration, candidate recruitment, and other interlocking component elements of party building. Decentralization was also a core component of the party's approach. The idea was that each state party had unique needs, but could improve upon its efforts through the distribution of resources from the national party.

The 50-state strategy was acknowledged by political commentators as an important factor in allowing "Barack Obama to compete against "John McCain in traditionally red states, during the 2008 presidential contest.[64][65] In 2008, Obama won several states that had previously been considered Republican strongholds, most notably Indiana, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Fundraising strategies[edit]

Through "grassroots fundraising, Howard Dean was able to raise millions more than the previous DNC Chairman at the same point after the 2000 election. The year after his election, Dean had raised the most money by any DNC Chairman in a similar post election period. This was especially apparent when the Federal Election Commission reported that the DNC had raised roughly $86.3 million in the first six months of 2005, an increase of over 50% on the amount raised during the same period of 2003. In comparison, the RNC fundraising activities represented a gain of only 2%. Additional attempts to capitalize on this trend was the introduction of "Democracy Bonds," a program under which small donors would give a set amount every month. Although it only reached over 31,000 donors by May 2006, far off-pace from the stated goal of 1 million by 2008, it nonetheless contributed to a new small-donor funding philosophy of the DNC. Dean continued to further develop online fundraising at the DNC. Just one month before Election Day 2006, he became the first to introduce the concept of a "grassroots match," where donors to the DNC pledged to match the first donation made by a new contributor. The DNC stated that the resulting flood of contributions led to 10,000 first-time donors in just a few days.

Private career[edit]

In a January 2009 interview with the "Associated Press, Dean indicated he would enter the private sector after 30 years in politics. Dean told the AP he would deliver speeches and share ideas about campaigns and technology with center-left political parties around the world. When asked about not being selected for a position in the Obama administration, Dean responded, "Obviously, it would have been great, but it's not happening and the president has the right to name his own Cabinet, so I'm not going to work in the government it looks like." When asked how he felt about not being selected, Dean replied he would ""punt on that one."

Supporters of Dean were angry that he was not given a position in the new administration and not invited to the press conference at which Tim Kaine was introduced as his successor as Democratic National Committee chairman. "Joe Trippi, who was Dean’s presidential campaign manager in 2004, told Politico, "[Dean] was never afraid to challenge the way party establishment in Washington did business, and that doesn’t win you friends in either party." Trippi further explained the apparent snub of Dean by stating, "You don’t have to look any further than "Rahm Emanuel." Trippi was referring to the tension between Emanuel and Dean over Dean's 50 state strategy. Sources close to Emanuel dismissed these charges.[66]

Dean said: "I didn't do this for the spoils. I did this for the country. I'm very happy that Barack Obama is president, and I think he's picked a great Cabinet. And I'm pretty happy. I wouldn't trade my position for any other position right now. I'm going to go into the private sector, make a living making speeches, and do a lot of stuff on health care policy."[67][66]

After the withdrawal of "Tom Daschle's nomination for the position, Dean had been touted by many for the post of Secretary of Health and Human Services.[5][68] After being passed over for the post once again, Dean commented: "I was pretty clear that I would have liked to have been Secretary of HHS but it is the president's choice and he decided to go in a different direction."[69]

Dean is a contributor to the news network "MSNBC in shows such as The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell. He has also guest hosted "Countdown with Keith Olbermann and "The Rachel Maddow Show. He is on the board of the National Democratic Institute.[70] Dean also serves as a Senior Presidential Fellow at Hofstra University.[71]

Dean has been a Senior Strategic Advisor and Independent Consultant for the Government Affairs practice at "McKenna, Long & Aldridge.[72]

Electoral history[edit]

Electoral history of Howard Dean


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  72. ^ "McKenna Long & Aldridge hires Howard Dean". "Atlanta Business Chronicle. March 3, 2009. Retrieved March 21, 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Dean, Howard. Howard Dean's Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2009. "ISBN 1-60358-228-2
  • Dean, Howard. You Have the Power: How to Take Back Our Country and Restore Democracy in America. Simon & Schuster, 2004. "ISBN 0-7432-7013-4
  • Dean, Howard. Winning Back America. Simon & Schuster, 2003. "ISBN 0-7432-5571-2
  • Dunnan, Dana. Burning at the Grassroots: Inside the Dean Machine. Pagefree (vanity press), 2004. "ISBN 1-58961-261-2
  • Trippi, Joe. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. ReganBooks, 2004. "ISBN 0-06-076155-5
  • Van Susteren, Dirk. Howard Dean: A Citizen's Guide to the Man Who Would Be President. Steerforth, 2003. "ISBN 1-58642-075-5

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
"Peter Smith
"Lieutenant Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
"Barbara Snelling
Preceded by
"Richard Snelling
"Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
"Jim Douglas
Preceded by
"Carroll Campbell
Chair of the "National Governors Association
Succeeded by
"Tommy Thompson
Party political offices
Preceded by
"Richard Snelling
"Democratic nominee for "Governor of Vermont
"1992, "1994, "1996, "1998, "2000
Succeeded by
"Jim Douglas
Preceded by
"Gaston Caperton
Chair of the "Democratic Governors Association
Succeeded by
"Pedro Rosselló
Preceded by
"Terry McAuliffe
Chair of the "Democratic National Committee
Succeeded by
"Tim Kaine
) )