Howard Dean on Face the Nation, Sunday, September 3, 2006
Thank you Linda in Cincinnati for the annotated Google video.
Russ Mitchell started by asking Howard Dean what makes him think that things are going to be different this time around, when the Republicans have used the issue of defense/security to their advantage so well in the past.
Howard Dean: Because the truth is that the Republicans look increasingly incompetent in defending our nation. Five years into the Bush presidency and a Republican majority, we see Iran is about to get nuclear weapons. North Korea not only has them but is expanding the number of nuclear weapons, Osama bin Laden is still at large. And I think the American people realize that Iraq was a war of choice and that the real war is the war on terror. And the Democrats want a new direction in our defense policy--we want to fight the war on terror. That means capturing or killing Osama bin Laden, focusing *on* the terrorists in northwest Pakistan, and we don't think that the Iraq war is the right way to fight the war on terror, because it simply has nothing to do with the war on terror. The interviewer hauls out the old Republican talking point that Democrats are quick to criticize but have no plan for how to fight the war on terror.
Howard Dean: That's actually completely untrue, and I think you can ask Senator McConnell who voted *against* a Democratic proposal to increase money for first responders so they can synchronize their radio, voted against the proposal--with many of the other Republicans--for more port security, more aviation security, more rail security. In many ways, the Republicans have turned down the suggestions that the Democrats have for improving our ability to defend our homeland, and we think it's time for a new direction.
Russ Mitchell brings up what happened in Connecticut with Joe Lieberman, a *cough* "moderate Democrat" in Connecticut, and asked if moderate Democrats are going to have a rough time over "this Iraq issue".
Howard Dean: I think anybody who is supporting President Bush's policy is going to have a rough time, and that includes an awful lot of Republicans. ...This morning, a leading Republican said that Rumsfeld should resign. Chris Shays has said that we should have a timetable for getting out of Iraq. Republicans are leaving a sinking ship, and the sinking ship is the Republican approach to the war in Iraq and to the war on terror.
Russ Mitchell: Do you think Secretary Rumsfeld should resign?
Howard Dean: Of course I think he should resign. He's fundamentally incompetent, and he's also not very smart politically. Sixty percent of the American people believe the war in Iraq was a mistake. Secretary Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney have gone on television saying people who disagree with the president are essentially like Nazi appeasers. You know, when you start attacking voters out of your frustration, that is not a good thing for winning elections, and I think that's one of the reasons the Republicans are in trouble. We need a new direction. Staying the course for a failed strategy is not a good direction.
Russ Mitchell asked if Rumsfeld is going to be a "whipping boy" for the Democrats.
Howard Dean: What we want is a new direction for this country, and not just a new direction in the war on terror. I think what we haven't talked about is the Republican war on the American family. We've seen real wages go down $2300 since the president's been in office, every year a million new middle class Americans lose their health insurance. The Republican majority has reduced Pell Grants and made it harder for middle class families' kids to go to college. We need a new direction, both at home and in defending America.
Russ Mitchell: In your mind, what is the biggest hurdle the Democratic candidates are going to have to overcome this election?
Howard Dean: I think the Republicans have a good machine. They may not know how to govern, but they know how to win elections. For a long time, we were not fighting back, now we are, we know what we want, but we've got a lot of work to do. We've got great candidates, but we've got a lot of work to do. You know, we're a little rusty at winning elections.
Russ Mitchell: Your party needs 15 seats to gain control of Congress--how realistic is that?
Howard Dean: I think it's very realistic, because we're going to win in places like Indiana, we're going to win in places like Arizona...Of course the northeast everybody talks about, but there's some real potentials for winning all across the country.
Russ Mitchell then asks how optimistic Howard is about the Senate, where Dems need 6 seats to regain control.
Howard Dean: Well, again, I'm optimistic. It's going to be a tough fight--the Republicans are a worthy opponent when it comes to elections, they know what they're doing, they've been working on this for 30 years. We need to bring our party back into the fray, and I think we are. We've raised a lot of money, we've put in a good field organization, we've got *terrific* candidates, better, I think, than the Republicans. And they're in trouble, because they've got the culture of corruption to contend with. In Montana, Senator Burns has taken enormous amounts of money from Jack Abramoff and his folks. But this is a tough race, make no mistake about it--these races are going down to the wire.
Russ Mitchell asks if Democrats are going to win on local issues or national issues.
Howard Dean: This is going to be like 1994--people want a new direction. Sixty-seven percent of the people in this country think we need a change. So this is a national election, and it's a referendum on the Republican rule. The Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the White House, and I think people want a different direction, and we want a different direction. We want real change in this country.
Russ Mitchell mentions the upcoming anniversary of September 11, and the fact that the Repubicans are expected to pass several bills in Congress commemorating that, as well as other activities. He asked how Democrats plan to "combat" this--that the Republicans are going to tout their record on national security, saying there has been no major attack on America soil in five years.
Howard Dean: The world is a much more dangerous place since 9/11 and America is in danger. The fact of the matter is, the Republicans have refused to fund adequate port security, they've refused to fund adequate first response security, our nuclear plants and our petroleum and chemical plants are still not safe, and things are going badly for us around the world. Our troops deserve better than this. If the Republicans would listen to the military before we'd go on these adventures, rather than afterwards, then we'd have a better shot. But the truth is, Iran poses a greater danger, North Korea poses a greater danger, and the president has done very little about these things and I think that's going to be an issue.
I think security is an issue that now finally works for the Democrats. They've been there for five years, these Republicans, and the question is, "Are we safer now?" And the answer is, "No."
Russ Mitchell then brings up the economy, saying that, while "anecdotal evidence" suggests the economy is doing poorly (Look Ma, I'm an anecdote!) the numbers suggest the economy's doing much better. How do Democratic candidates fight that?
Howard Dean: Well, again, for eighty percent of Americans the economy is not doing better. The fact is, it's harder to send your kid to college, we don't have a healthcare system in this country that covers everybody, like 36 other countries in the world do. Average wages have gone down for the last five years, so, for ordinary Americans, they're suffering for this. They see the Republicans giving away money to the oil companies and the HMOs in the middle of the night in these huges tax breaks, but they don't see anything for them. They see their lives getting harder. The people know that Democrats are better on education, on Social Security, on pension security, on healthcare. I think the big battle here is not to convince Americans we're going to set a new direction in those areas--they know that. The big battle is going to be, will the Democrats set a new direction in security, and the issue is, yes, we will.
Russ Mitchell asks "What's job number one" going to be for Howard in the next few months.
Howard Dean: (laughing) Well, job number one for me is to go all over the country and try to get a little money and get our troops in order, not just in the states that I know we're going to do well, like Connecticut and Pennsylvania, but in states that we haven't done well in the past, but we're going to do well in the future. Montana, Colorado, where I expect to win the governor's office, Arizona and Tennessee where we can pick up Senate seats. These are a lot of states that have trended Republican in the past, and I think that's going to change.
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