Howard Dean, head of the Democratic National Committee, was invited by the College Democrats to speak in Low Library yesterday on student activism and the current presidential elections. The former governor was one awkward “Yeah!” away from what seemed like a sure Democratic nomination and possibly a four year stay at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Dean, however, with a gratuitous grunt sealed his fate after the Iowa Caucus in 2004 and saw his White House dreams dashed forever.
While he opened with a few short remarks on the great organization of the Columbia Dems and College Dems in general, Dean focused his speech on his recent complaint against McCain and the Republican nominee’s alleged shady campaign finances. Calling McCain a hypocrite that the young people today can see right through, Dean said that they should rename the bill that McCain supposedly violated the “Feingold Bill.”
Bwog was fortunate enough to get in a few words with the former Vermont Governor before his speech. See the transcript after the jump. [The interview has been edited for clarity and length—Ed.]
Dean: I think the problem is not so much taking money from lobbyists as it is building your career on the idea that you would never do so and then going ahead and doing it anyway. John McCain’s problem is not that he takes money from lobbyists, his problem is that he makes a big deal about too much influence from lobbyists. And then he himself gets plane rides and checks from lobbyists. You can’t do that in politics. If you’re going to do something, you shouldn’t go around the corner and then denounce it after you’ve done it.
Bwog: On the Democrats, you’ve been quoted as saying that we shouldn’t wait until the convention to decide who the Democratic nominee is, why is that?
Dean: The voters are going to make that decision. But historically, when you go into a convention divided, you come out of the convention divided, and we can’t do that. If we’re going to beat the Republicans we’re going to have to be a united party, so I’m very much hoping that the voters will give us a nominee well before the convention.
Bwog: What do you think is going to happen for Vermont on March 4th?
Dean: I have absolutely no idea.
Bwog: Ok, you grew up in New York…
Dean: Yes, I actually got my premedical courses at this institution. I think it was ’74-’75.
Bwog: You grew up in Suffolk County and the Upper East Side, right, and I was just wondering if there was an activist culture here when you were growing up.
Dean: Very much so. I was just telling the provost that I rarely walk across the quadrangle out here, what do you call it? This big enormous plaza in front of Low.
Bwog: The steps.
Dean: Well I never walk across there without thinking about Mark Rudd and Grayson Kirk.