Dean to make formal declaration of candidacy on Monday

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(Host) Former Governor Howard Dean will officially announce his candidacy to seek the Democratic presidential nomination Monday afternoon in Burlington. VPR’s Bob Kinzel takes a look at some of the reasons why this speech is so important to the Dean campaign:

(Kinzel) Dean is returning to Vermont to formally launch his campaign for several reasons. The speech will give him a chance to explain to Vermonters why he’s decided to run for president and it will also allow Dean to define his candidacy for the national press.

Dean has raised a number of key issues on the campaign trail but he’s rarely been able to fold them all together in single speech:

(Dean) “We’re not going to beat this president if we’re not confident in who we are. People like this president not because they like his policies but because they think he’s confident about who he is. To think that we might actually go back to a sane society which values balanced budgets and social justice – that’s a pretty hopeful thing in this country and I think a campaign based on hope will beat a campaign based on fear every single time.”

(Kinzel) Daryll West, who’s a political science professor at Brown University, is a long time observer of presidential politics. West says this kind of formal announcement speech gives Dean an opportunity to define his image for the national press corps:

(West) “This is really the time to shape your image, emphasize particular issues and really lay out your story and your rational as to why you want to be president. It’s a chance for the candidate to connect the dots. Every candidate has been traveling the country giving speeches, even participating in debates. But an announcement speech allows you to really put the whole package out in a way that makes your strongest possible argument.”

(Kinzel) By openly criticizing some of the other Democratic candidates, Dean has developed an image as a feisty and aggressive campaigner. Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford thinks Dean is walking a fine line with this image:

(Goldford) “He’s very hot in the sense that, in media terms, he comes across as hot. Gephardt and Kerry come across as cooler now. You can be so cool as to be frozen and just stiff, but you can come across as so hot as being kind of explosive. And Dean has got a sense of humor but he can be very – the times I’ve seen him, a couple of times he seems to be very biting or caustic. So again it’s a difficult thing. You want to register an impression on people but you don’t want to blow them over.”

(Kinzel) One measure of the early strength of the Dean campaign is the large number of national media outlets that plan to cover Monday’s speech in Burlington. Dozens of media groups are sending reporters to the Church Street Marketplace to cover the event.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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