Dean hopes to attract Gore supporters

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(Host) Governor Howard Dean is in Iowa contacting supporters of former Vice President Al Gore. Dean says Gore’s decision not to run for president in 2004 will help his own presidential campaign effort.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Dean is in Iowa for much of this week putting together the framework for his state campaign. But Gore’s sudden announcement that the former vice president has decided not to run for president in 2004 has expanded Dean’s agenda for this Iowa trip.

Dean is now contacting Gore’s supporters in Iowa to seek if the governor can convince them to join his presidential campaign. Dean hopes to attract a number of Gore’s backers because the governor thinks he shares a number of key policy positions with Gore like education and health care:

(Dean) “I think what’s happened with Al Gore’s exit is that I get set apart from all the other candidates who’ve been voting with the president on a lot of these critical issues, where I believe that we shouldn’t be voting with the president, so often. Because we’ve passed some bad policy with Democratic support and I think that’s a mistake for our party.”

(Kinzel) Dean says his basic strategy will not change now that Gore is out of the race. But the governor thinks there are some new opportunities. Dean says almost all the other potential Democratic candidates are members of Congress who have voting records that show support for a number of President Bush’s initiatives, including tax cuts for the wealthy. Dean says he plans to make these voting records a major issue in the Democratic primaries:

(Dean) “Gore could move towards where I was with health care and so forth and get away with it because he didn’t have a voting record for the past 10 years. But people like Senator Kerry are going to try that and then they’re going to be able to go into their voting record and find out that he says one thing and did something else. For example, Senator Kerry was very adamant that we’re doing the wrong thing in Iraq and then he voted for the Iraq resolution. Well those guys are all going to have to explain that and that’s going to be something that becomes an issue in the primary.”

(Kinzel) Dean is expecting to name a state coordinator for his Iowa campaign in the next few days.

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

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