In late 2002,
the Dean campaign still seemed to lack any real momentum. After
months of travel, dozens of visits to Iowa and New Hampshire and
tireless campaigning, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean remained
in the low single digits in most opinion polls and as of Oct.
15, 2002, had only $85,000
in his campaign war chest.
A year later,
Dean had just ended the third quarter by raising the most money
of any Democratic candidate in history; he was at the head of
a growing Internet movement and topped the polls over many more
the defining moment for his presidential campaign may have come
on March 15, 2003. On that day, the former governor stood before
the California Democratic State Party convention and took aim
at the impending war in Iraq and the Democrats who had supported
I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing
voting to support the president's unilateral attack on Iraq?"
It was a speech
that electrified the audience and almost instantly thrust him
into the role of the antiwar candidate. He also became the chief
critic on his party's more moderate approach, championed by former
the California address, the 54-year-old Dean began issuing the
same rallying cry at speech after speech.
Howard Dean," he shouted to his audiences, paraphrasing a
similar line used by former Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone, "and
I'm here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party."
of a man from what the National Journal's Hotline called "the
longest of long shots" to the head of a Democratic grassroots
revolt and antiwar champion is an unlikely story.
up in an 11th floor apartment in Manhattan and on the shores of
Sag Harbor on Long Island. His father, grandfather and great grandfather
all worked as investment bankers.
He was the
eldest of four boys and as a baby won a modeling job for Bloomingdales.
Later, he attended St. George's, one of the nation's best prep
schools, at one point rooming with his gregarious younger brother
In 1967, he
entered Yale, where he was a solid, but not spectacular student.
He graduated from college in 1971 and received a medical deferment
that kept him out of the draft. He also came into a trust fund
and with $25,000, headed to Aspen, Colo., where he spent nearly
a year skiing.
to New York and entered the family business, taking a series of
positions at Wall Street investment firms. He also volunteered
nights at Saint Vincent's Hospital, further developing an interest
in medicine. He used that experience to compensate for his Yale
grades and gained admittance to Albert Einstein Medical School
after entering medical school, Dean suffered through one of the
moments that those who know him well say changed his life. His
brother, Charlie, who had just finished working for the failed
1972 George McGovern presidential campaign, left for Southeast
with a friend to Laos, and one day in October 1974, the Deans
learned Communist rebels had kidnapped him. For months they sought
information about his whereabouts, but in May 1975
received word he had been killed.
happened to Charlie was a catalyst of a lot of things in Howard's
life," brother Jim Dean told the Boston Globe. "It made
him think big."
to focus on his studies after the death of his brother, working
hard while on an accelerated three-year program. He also met and
befriended Judith Steinberg. Soon the two were dating and they
married in 1981.
medical school, Dean did his residency at the University of Vermont's
Medical School in Burlington. A year later, Judith joined him
in Vermont and Dean joined his first official campaign, stuffing
envelopes for President Jimmy Carter's reelection effort.
His next political
move was more local, lobbying the city of Burlington to build
a bike path near his home, but his wife still says she did not
see the political career that lay in front of her husband.
he was a resident, he got involved in a movement to create a bicycle
path in Burlington along Lake Champlain," Steinberg told
the Washington Post. "But I didn't really consider that politics.
Then he went and became a local representative (in 1982), but
I didn't consider that politics, either. The first time I considered
it was when he ran for lieutenant governor (in 1986). But then,
that was part-time and he was still a doctor."
growing interest in politics, reporters and analysts said he maintained
his medical manner.
Dean is a classic doctor: smart, abrupt and clinical," Matt
Bai wrote in a New York Times Magazine profile. "It's not
hard to picture him in a white coat and loafers, backing towards
the door as you try to ask one more question."
happy with balancing the medical and political worlds, still working
in his practice with his wife while serving in the state government.
In 1990, he even passed up the chance to run for the state's top
job when the seat opened.
But this balancing
act came to an end in August 1991, when Republican Governor Richard
Snelling died of a heart attack. As governor, Dean struck a balance
in his approach to his job. He kept many of Snelling's advisers
and worked to shrink the state's deficit and adopt a tax cut even
as he also focused on making health care more available.
He also angered
conservatives and rallied liberals by backing the nation's first
"Civil Unions" law, granting homosexual couples in Vermont
the same legal standing as heterosexual married couples. While
the statute stopped short of legalizing gay marriage, gay and
lesbian activists hailed the move. It was also what Dean later
described as "the most important event in my political life."
got to have a discussion with myself about whether this made any
political sense or not because I knew that whether I was going
to win the next election or lose it, that every day I was going
to have to look at myself in the mirror and decide what kind of
human being I was," Dean told Tim Russert on NBC's "Meet
But even as
activists cheered him on, the governor raised the ire of some
liberals by opposing further federal firearms regulations, saying
current laws should be enforced and states should decide individually
whether more laws are needed.
earned him an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association
and, according to Dean, eliminated an issue he says cost Al Gore
the presidency in 2000.
are getting killed on gun control," Dean told NBC in the
same interview. "Democratic activists who basically are in
favor of gun control are glad to see me coming in the West and
the South, because they do not want to lose any more national
elections on the gun issue."
In 1997, he
toured the country, raising money for candidates and testing the
waters for a possible run in 2000. In the end he decided against
it, but soon after the election of George W. Bush, he began traveling
to Iowa and neighboring New Hampshire, building a political base
almost completely under the media radar.
Built on an
antiwar campaign and a rebellion against his own party's moderate
wing, Dean saw his poll numbers and level of support soar in 2003.
sounds very idealistic and naïve, but we're going to lose
our country if somebody doesn't do something idealistic,"
Dean told the Washington Post in July. "When I say that a
lot of Democrats are more mad at the Democrats than at the Republicans,
I get a lot of nods. This party has made a fundamental mistake
in not challenging the administration."
the help of hundreds of thousands of donors, intends to change
that in 2004.
By Lee Banville, Online NewsHour