Dean begins campaign in Washington state

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(Host) Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean says his strong fundraising efforts in recent months will allow him to set up campaign organizations in a number of critical states after the New Hampshire primary. As VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, the Dean campaign is now focusing on the state of Washington.

(Kinzel) The major focus at this time for many of Democratic presidential campaigns are the three key early contests : the Iowa caucuses on January 19, the New Hampshire primary on January 27 and the South Carolina primary which will be held a week later on February 3. After the South Carolina primary, there are a handful of contests in the four weeks leading up to Super Tuesday on March 2 – a day that will see primaries in 13 states including New York, California and Ohio.

The Dean campaign is counting on strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire but they face major opposition in South Carolina from two southern candidates: North Carolina Senator John Edwards and Florida Senator Bob Graham.

Four days after South Carolina, the state of Washington will choose delegates using a caucus system. Dean says it’s place where his campaign will wage an active campaign:

(Dean) “That is an opportunity we’re working really hard. There we have a great organization and we’re sending field directors out there. My whole theory about how to beat George Bush is different that the other guys from Washington. My theory is instead of trying to get yourself in the middle of the ever shrinking rightward moving electorate, try to motivate new people to vote. And if you can do that, then we can win.”

(Kinzel) Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis thinks Dean is making a wise decision to target Washington because he says it’s a state where the Dean campaign can rebound from a possible weak showing in South Carolina:

(Davis) “It’s a state where there are a lot of independents who can participate in the Democratic caucuses. The Seattle metropolitan area makes up the largest share of the voting population in Washington state and that’s generally considered one of the more progressive metropolitan areas in the country. So when you add together the environmental issues, the fact that the independents can vote in the primary, the voting leanings of the Seattle area – Washington would be a good state for Dean to devote time and other campaign resources to.”

(Kinzel) Dean’s major opponents in the state of Washington are expected to be Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.

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

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