Dean to Address Democratic National Convention Tuesday Evening

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(Host) Former Governor Howard Dean says he’ll use his speech at the Democratic National Convention next week to encourage the progressive base of the party to enthusiastically support John Kerry’s bid to become president. Dean also expects delegates pledged to him will unanimously support Kerry on the first round of voting at the Convention.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Dean told a group of reporters at his Burlington headquarters for Democracy for America that he’s very pleased he’s been given a prime-time slot to address the convention on Tuesday night.

Dean says his speech will stress three major themes. The first will be outlining the importance of electing John Kerry in November. Dean will also use the address to highlight issues that he raised during the presidential primary campaign such as universal health care and education. Perhaps most importantly, Dean will urge the liberal wing of the party to support Kerry and not Ralph Nader:

(Dean) “I’ll be making the case to the base of the Democratic Party that this is incredibly important. I don’t think this is a case I have to make very strongly because I think people really understand why this is so important, but I think that I can give the base a reason to vote. Not that they don’t already have one but explain to them exactly what’s at stake. So the subtexts will be that the progressive wing of this party needs to support John Kerry.”

(Kinzel) Dean will arrive at the convention with roughly 121 delegates. He plans to meet with the group, listen to their concerns and then encourage them to support Kerry.

(Dean) “I’ve been pretty clear that we don’t want any ‘draft Dean’ movements from the floor, but I’m meeting with my delegates – closed press – on Monday. I don’t tell my delegates what to do. This campaign was never billed like that. We’ll have a discussion and we’ll come to a consensus about what we think the best thing to do is.”

(Kinzel) Dean thinks the war in Iraq will be a key issue for many voters in November but he believes that economic issues will be the determining factor in the election.

(Dean) “This election is going to be won between the Alleghenies and the Rockies and the economy between the Alleghenies and the Rockies is not reflective of what you see in the newspapers. So I think the guts of this election is on jobs and other economic securities issue,s such as health insurance. It’s true Iraq plays into it because Iraq has undermined the credibility of the president in his strongest suit and it’s undermined his own personal trustworthiness among the electorate. So that opens the door. But the person with the most believable economic program is the one who wins it.”

(Kinzel) Dean says he plans to actively campaign for Senator Kerry and he’ll go wherever the Kerry campaign thinks he can be the most help.

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

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