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Howard Dean says leading GOP candidates don't look presidential

Nearly 20 years after Howard Dean struggled in Iowa, he said Democrats were right to not have their first nominating event in the state this year.
Howard Dean says leading GOP candidates don't look presidential
Posted at 8:56 PM, Jan 15, 2024

Speaking to Scripps News moments before the start of Monday's Iowa caucuses, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said that none of the leading Republican presidential candidates look presidential. 

Dean, who was a presidential hopeful in 2004, had a disappointing showing during the Democratic Iowa caucuses that year. His campaign might be best remembered for the "Dean Scream," after Dean gave an impassioned speech when he finished third in that year's Iowa caucuses. Dean was behind eventual Democratic nominee John Kerry and his eventual running mate John Edwards. 

The results in Iowa ultimately derailed his presidential hopes as he withdrew from the race about a month after the Iowa caucuses. But Dean's role as a kingmaker in the Democratic party grew as he chaired the Democratic National Committee from 2005-2009, helping Barack Obama and Joe Biden win the 2008 election. 

"One thing that Republicans have a problem with is none of their candidates look presidential at this point," Dean told Scripps News. "Certainly not any of the leading candidates."

"Biden is the president and he's acting like a president," Dean added about not campaigning in Iowa. "I think Biden has gotten a bit of a raw deal from the mainstream media. People want to focus on his age. You know, I've been around a long time; this is the most extraordinary president on domestic policy in terms of job creation, bringing high tech to rural areas, which is badly needed, climate change."

SEE MORE: Why Iowa Democrats aren't caucusing for a presidential candidate

One reason Biden wasn't in Iowa is that the Democrats' Iowa caucuses are scaled down this year. Instead of choosing their presidential preference, Iowa Democrats are caucusing to discuss policy and to choose delegates. 

Democrats have opted to go with a mail-in primary later in the election cycle. President Biden was among a group of Democrats who pushed to move Iowa's first-of-its-kind event later into the nominating cycle. Many Democrats, like President Biden, have proposed letting states with more racially diverse populations go first. 

This was a move Dean agreed with. 

"When I was chairman, I actually put South Carolina and Nevada up early," Dean said. "We had two states (Iowa and New Hampshire) that really had very little diversity and were not typical of the country and didn't look like the Democratic Party. And the reason for putting Nevada and South Carolina up earlier in the process is because they do look like the rest of the Democratic Party and the country. And now, President Biden and his DNC have really cemented those changes and I think that will be a permanent change."

Dean said that because Iowa has tended to become more conservative in recent years, it makes more sense for the state to have a more prominent role in choosing the next GOP nominee. 

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