Manchester crowd greets Dean

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(Host) In his last full day of campaigning before the New Hampshire primary, Howard Dean worked hard to win over undecided voters. During a campaign rally in Manchester, Dean criticized his Democratic rivals, but focused more of his attacks on President Bush.

VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Crowd chanting) “Hope not fear! Hope not fear!”

(Dillon) An enthusiastic crowd greeted Howard Dean outside the Palace Theater in downtown Manchester. Inside, the reception was even warmer, especially for a Doctor Dean rarely seen on the campaign trail.

(Judy Dean) “I really did want to come here today to thank the people of New Hampshire. They’ve been wonderful to Howard and I just wanted to thank you all for your wonderful support.”

(Dillon) The campaign clearly believes Judy Dean is an asset. Dean workers distributed dozens of videos of a last week’s the ABC News interview with Howard and Judy Dean.

Dean used his time on the stage to sharpen his attacks on President Bush, while selling his own record as governor for 11 years. The candidate appealed several times to undecided voters, who hold the key in Tuesday’s primary .

(Dean) “I know there are undecided folks here, I need your help. Tomorrow America needs your help. I believe we can fundamentally change this country.”

(Dillon) Dean also returned to other themes he’s sounded in New Hampshire for months now. He said despite his lack of foreign policy experience, he decided that the war in Iraq was wrong. In his most direct attack on Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, Dean pointed out that Kerry had opposed the first Gulf War in 1991, and supported the second war that started last March.

(Dean) “Now I stood up and said ‘no’ to that a year and a half ago. Senator Kerry, Senator Edwards, Senator Lieberman all voted in favor of that war. Let me ask you, what kind of foreign policy experience do you want in the White House?”

(Dillon) Polls show that at least 15 percent of the New Hampshire voters remain uncommitted just hours before the polls open for Tuesday’s primary. Gunar Trenoweth from Peterborough is registered as an independent and plans to vote as a Democrat in Tuesday’s primary. He says he still can’t decide, but he was impressed by Dean.

(Trenoweth) “This is the second time we’ve seen him. I have to admit, he does get down with the people, he’s very honest. Most of these people become like empty suits. They just kind of talk to you and leave. We saw Edwards last night, and I could have got that on a DVD, I guess. But this guy comes and he shows up and actually answers some questions.”

(Dillon) Trenoweth says he’s still torn between Dean and Kerry, and may not make up his mind until just before he votes.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Manchester.

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