Dean supporters count on Vermont victory

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(Host) All day long, the diehard supporters of Howard Dean have been on street corners and near polling places, hoping to pull off more than a symbolic win for their candidate. The volunteers hope that Dean’s positions will have a place in the Democratic convention in July as a result.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Outside the city hall polling place in Montpelier, Cherie Staples holds a big blue Dean sign and encourages Vermonters to vote for their former governor. She says the Dean candidacy drew thousands of volunteers who still believe.

(Staples) “And it struck a strong chord in a lot of people, that they were being overlooked, under-represented and that this is what we want to change.”

(Dillon) Dean failed to win 17 primaries or caucuses, but his name remains on the ballot in many states. Dean volunteers have organized an ad campaign that led up to the Super Tuesday vote. And even though Dean stopped campaigning last month, his supporters hope a win here will send a message to the Democratic Party. Staples believes a strong showing in Vermont may pressure party leaders to include some of his positions in the Democratic platform.

(Staples) “I liked what he stood for, and I liked his message and it needs to be said over and over and over again. And you’ve got to put the feet of the leaders to the fire and keep them on message for what we believe. And that is what Howard Dean spoke so eloquently for.”

(Dillon) Barbara Balch from Montpelier walks by. She sees the blue Dean sign and promises to vote for the candidate. She explains why.

(Balch) “We just felt very strongly from the minute he started his campaigning that he was the right man. And we’re very disappointed he’s dropped out.”

(Dillon) Andrea Stander is a Dean volunteer who helped organize Washington County. She says volunteers drove the campaign from the beginning, and still hope to keep the movement alive.

(Stander) “It wasn’t just about his candidacy. It was about the issues. And the issues are what’s really driving people. And I think so many people felt empowered again to make a difference, to have a voice, to influence what happens, and that’s what’s making people continue.”

(Dillon) Today’s primary allocates just 15 delegates to the convention out of the 1,151 that are up for grabs in the 10 states. Dean needs at least 15 percent of the vote to qualify for some of the delegates.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.

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