Dean launches media ads in two dozen states

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(Host) The campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean is planning to spend several million dollars on TV spots in a number of states that hold primaries the week after the New Hampshire election. Campaign manager Joe Trippi says the media effort, which will begin next week, demonstrates that Dean is running a national campaign.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) According to Trippi, the only way that a candidate can successfully win the Democratic presidential nomination is for that candidate to wage an aggressive campaign in at least two dozen states that hold primaries on or before March 2. While some of the other candidates are using most of their resources to compete in either Iowa or New Hampshire, the Dean campaign is already looking ahead to the primaries that take place in the month following New Hampshire.

Trippi says the campaign will begin running TV ads in Oklahoma, New Mexico and South Carolina next Monday and it will purchase TV time in other early states in the near future.

Speaking to reporters on a national conference call, Trippi says the effort is needed because it’s critical to build a grassroots campaign in these early states as soon as possible:

(Trippi) “The big thing about why, where, here is every other one of these campaigns underestimated us and that was a mistake. And the one mistake we’re not going to make is to underestimate a single of them. And that means we’re going to have to continue to fight hard in Iowa, continue to fight for every vote in New Hampshire. I don’t care what the polls say, we’re going to fight for every single vote there and we’re going to continue and start building out.”

(Kinzel) Meanwhile, Trippi says the Dean campaign has made no decision concerning how to respond to a growing controversy involving Dean’s arrangement to seal some of his gubernatorial records for a ten-year period. Trippi says the campaign is reviewing a lawsuit filed earlier this week by a conservative Washington based group known as Judicial Watch.

Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford says the controversy surrounding the sealed records hasn’t emerged yet as a major issue in Iowa, but he says it could develop into a serious problem for Dean:

(Goldford) “The key question is this: any particular incident in anybody’s campaign, unless it’s something absolutely scandalous, is not necessarily that major an importance. On the other hand, if a candidate starts to look as though there’s a pattern of questionable issues or questionable dealings, such that something new occurs and everybody says, ‘Oh see that confirms what we’ve seen already, there’s a pattern,’ then that becomes very difficult and potentially disastrous.”

(Kinzel) The Dean campaign is expected to release a statement about the new lawsuit in the next few days.

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

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