What’s at stake for Dean

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(Host) All the major Democratic presidential candidates will be frantically crisscrossing New Hampshire on Tuesday in search of last minute votes for the primary election. As VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, there’s a lot at stake for Howard Dean.

(Kinzel) The big question facing the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean is whether or not Dean will be able to recover from last week’s disappointing third place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

Before Iowa, Dean was viewed as the frontrunner in the race because he was able to raise more money than any other candidate and because he received some big party endorsements.

Now everything has changed and Dean is fighting for his political life. Daryl West is a political science professor at Brown University.

(West) “New Hampshire is absolutely crucial for Howard Dean just because Vermont is right next to New Hampshire. And if you can’t do well in your home region then it casts doubts as to whether you can do well elsewhere around the country.”

(Kinzel) West says if Dean can make a good showing in New Hampshire, his campaign could do well in upcoming primaries:

(West) “All Dean has to do is finish in second place and have it be a competitive second place finish. If he can do that, then that will give him legs, that will allow him to compete in the rest of the country. And at this point Dean actually has a stronger national organization than most of the other candidates.”

(Kinzel) West credits Dean for energizing the Democratic race with his strong criticisms of President Bush. Now, West says, Dean needs to return to his original message that attracted so much attention several months ago:

(West) “Dean definitely did a great job of firing up the Democratic base and focusing their attention on President Bush. And of course one of the ironies is John Kerry then became a beneficiary of that voter mobilization. And so what Dean has to do is really kind of get back to his roots – talk about his Vermont record and really explain why people originally liked him and why they should come back to him.”

(Kinzel) After New Hampshire, the Democratic presidential race takes on a national approach. A week from Tuesday, seven states will hold their primaries, including South Carolina, Missouri, New Mexico and Arizona. Dean is expected to wage an active campaign in most of these states.

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

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