Thursday, August 7, 2003

Dean tells voters he knows how to win the presidency

By Anthony Schinella/Staff Writer

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

This is the first in a series of occasional articles following the democratic candidates for president on the campaign trail.

NASHUA, N.H. - Despite the soggy Saturday morning, hundreds of people packed Pete and Gloria Henry's small backyard to meet former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. The democratic presidential candidate came to Nashua after meeting voters at a breakfast event in Salem.

Running almost an hour behind schedule, Dean quickly greeted the enthusiastic crowd, launching into a fiery speech criticizing President George W. Bush, and trying to convince attendees that he was the only democrat who could beat the president. The tenor of the presentation illustrated why Dean has catapulted from obscure small state governor, to what some are calling the frontrunner for the democratic presidential nomination.

"Here's how we are going to win," Dean started out. "If you look at your neighbors; you're how we are going to win. And we are going to bring this country back together again. The way we are going to beat George Bush is to stand up to him - instead of trying to be like him. And this time, the person with the most votes is going to be the next president."

New employment statistics released by the Labor Department last week revealed more bad economic news: 44,000 more unemployed in July and over half a million no longer collecting benefits. Many of these job losses were from the manufacturing sector which has lost 2.5 million jobs since Bush took office.

In order to promote new job growth, Dean said he would work to balance the budget - something republican presidents had been unable to do. Restoring confidence with American investors would be a good first step, he said.

"I am tired of having an economy where our best jobs are shipped elsewhere in the world," Dean said. "I want an economy where we can grow again and have real jobs [where] people can support themselves."

In Vermont, where Dean was governor for almost twelve years, the state put money in a rainy day fund and paid off the debt during the good years, he said. This raised the state's bond rating from one of the worst to one of the best in the eastern part of the country. When the economy turned, the state was still able to fund important programs like education, health care for children, and aid to cities and towns.

"When revenues go down, that is exactly the time that people who depend on state government need more help," he said. "We are not just talking about poor people; we are talking about the middle class [people]."

According to Dean, Vermont was able to create an insurance program where all children under 18 and all families under 150 percent of poverty are covered, even though Vermont is rural and ranked 26th in income. He wondered why the United States was still unable to provide health insurance for all its citizens even though every other industrialized nation in the world had a program.

"Even the Costa Ricans have health insurance that everyone else has. Why do we have to be second-class citizens in our own country?" he asked.

Dean also lashed out at Bush's multi-trillion dollar tax cuts and unfunded federal mandates like the No Child Left Behind Act and the lack of funds for homeland security. He said many residents of New Hampshire and other states have seen higher property taxes because the costs for federal programs have been passed on to state and local governments.

"The people who paid for this tax cut are right here in this tent," he said. "You tell me - did your property taxes go up more than the check you got from the federal government? I think they did."

Dean was also critical of the president's invasion of Iraq, criticizing Bush's foreign policy as "based on humiliation." Bush sent the troops in under the false pretense that Iraq was trying to build a nuclear weapon, he said, while adding praise for United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix, who also was unable to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Dean said the United States can't abandon Iraq now but instead needed to "internationalize" the effort "and start to bring our people home."

"This president talks so big about defense; he's so tough - but how come he forgets the veterans once they come home?" Dean asked.

On education, Dean said he would fully-fund special education while at the same time letting local school committees retain local control, adding "I am tired of unfunded mandates and you won't see any in the Dean administration."

Dean would also support small business, better inspection of cargo containers coming into the country, infrastructure repairs and construction, and the creation of a national renewal energy program to make the nation more energy self-sufficient.

"We are not going to beat George Bush by trying to be like him," he said. "Fifty percent of the Americans don't vote in this country because we don't give them a reason to. This campaign is not going to be based [on] being like him. We are going to give people a reason to vote again. I think it is time for a campaign based on hope, not on fear."

Host Pete Henry was impressed with Dean while seeing him on C-SPAN as head of the National Governor's Association. When he saw Dean was running for president, Henry knew who he would be supporting.

"When I found out he was running for president, it was a no-brainer," he said. "This is a smart guy - I'm glad that he is out there fighting for the issues that I care about."

No comments: