(Host) Howard Dean’s presidential fortunes seemed to follow the seasons. The Democratic campaign had the heat from a Vermont summer day to get off the ground and came to a close in the chill of a late winter afternoon. But even as Dean announced plans to end his campaign, he announced the creation of a new organization to make changes in the country’s political system.
More from VPR’s Bob Kinzel:
(Kinzel) Dean stood before several hundred enthusiastic supporters at a Burlington hotel to announce his future political plans roughly eight months after he formally entered the Democratic presidential race.
In recent days, a number of high ranking party officials have put a lot of pressure on Dean to withdraw from the contest to help unify the party. But Dean held out, hoping for a miracle finish in the Wisconsin primary. When that didn’t happen – Dean finished a distant third to Massachusetts Senator John Kerry – Dean flew back to Burlington to meet with his key aides to plot his next move.
Dean told his supporters that he wants to transform his Dean for America organization into a new movement – one that will continue to fight for the issues and policies that he espoused as a candidate:
(Dean) “I am no longer actively pursuing the presidency. We will however continue to build a new organization using our enormous grassroots network to continue the effort to transform the Democratic Party and to change our country.”
(Kinzel) Dean didn’t endorse another candidate in the race. In the last week he said that he believes John Edwards is a much stronger candidate than John Kerry, but he made it clear that he will strongly back the eventual nominee of the party:
(Dean) “Let me be clear: I will not run as a third party candidate. The bottom line is that we must beat George W. Bush in November, whatever it takes!” (Sound of crowd applause.)
(Kinzel) Dean reflected on the role that his candidacy played in the Democratic presidential race. Dean says he and his supporters gave new energy to the party and provided a winning message in the campaign against the president:
(Dean) “We have demonstrated to other Democrats that it is a far better strategy to stand up against the right wing agenda of George W. Bush than it is to cooperate with it. We have led this party back to considering what its heart and soul is, although there is a lot of work left to do.”
(Kinzel) Dean asked his supporters to join his new movement and he urged them to stay active in the political process:
(Dean) “We want to encourage you out there in the grassroots effort run for office, support candidates like you who run for office and we will use the enormous organization to support you as you run. So we will change the face of democracy so that it represents ordinary Americans once again. Government that will not be bought and sold!”
(Kinzel) Dean plans to huddle with his chief aides over the weekend to map out the strategy for his new organization.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel.