Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"Dean reflects on his presidential race, role of media"

"Former Gov. Howard Dean said Tuesday his 2004 presidential campaign was derailed more by his inability to adjust to being a front-runner than with how he was treated by the media during his upstart bid for the White House.

"I was never able to successfully switch gears and be seen as someone who could be president of the United States," Dean said. "You have to do that to be president."

Dean said he made a serious tactical error by failing to refine his insurgent image as polls began to show him in the lead among voters in Iowa and New Hampshire in 2003.

Dean, who has rarely discussed what went wrong with his once high-flying bid for the presidency, made the remarks at a University of Vermont symposium on the role of media in the making and breaking of political heroes.

"I had no idea what I was getting into," Dean said of his decision to run for president despite being from such a small state. "We were a little bit inexperienced."

Dean's campaign and how it was treated by the media was a central focus of the five-member panel discussion before a nearly full Ira Allen Chapel.

Dotty Lynch, who has covered 10 presidential campaigns and is the former political editor for CBS News, said the media badly mishandled Dean's "scream" speech to disappointed supporters the night he finished third in the Iowa caucuses.

"It got so taken out of context," she said. "It got turned into something it wasn't." She said the coverage of the "scream" so dominated the news in the week after the Iowa caucuses that it threw coverage of the subsequent New Hampshire primary off course.

Howard Fineman, Newsweek's chief political correspondent, drew applause when he said Dean deserved thanks for being willing to run for president, and said the Dean campaign will be studied for years to come. He said it was ironic that the Internet -- a key factor in Dean's rise to prominence -- also played a role in his downfall.

"It went around the world on the Internet," he said of the "scream" image. "What the Internet giveth, the Internet tooketh away."-from the story in today's Burlington Free Pres (VT).

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