Dean may feel pressure to end presidential campaign

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(Host) Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean will face enormous pressure from national Democratic leaders to withdraw from the race – if Dean loses next week’s primary in Wisconsin. That’s the viewpoint of Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Welch, who has campaigned for Dean.

Speaking last night on VPR’s Switchboard program, Welch said Dean’s decision to stay in the race beyond Wisconsin is certain to be challenged by the Democratic leadership:

(Welch) “There’s increasing pressure because the national Democratic leadership wants to unite behind a candidate and focus resources behind that candidate against George Bush. I think the question for Howard Dean is kind of interesting because he is unique. Even though he’s losing, he’s raising an enormous amount of money. So obviously there’s a lot of people who are willing to put their checkbooks where their political beliefs are.”

(Host) Welch says Dean needs to walk a fine line in his criticisms of Kerry, if Dean decides to stay in the race for any length of time:

(Welch) “I think the big question, Howard Dean is going to decide that on his own. He’s going to consider the arguments that are made from various quarters. But I think in the end, the bottom line for him is that he’s got to be careful not to turn this into a criticism of John Kerry. As he carries on he wants to be on his positive message about the need for change, about empowerment for Democrats, about the need to focus on getting Bush out of there. And if he’s doing that I think the particular timing of whether he stays in or not won’t be damaging.”

(Host) Dean faces an uphill battle in Wisconsin. The latest polls show Dean trailing Kerry by roughly 30 percentage points.

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