Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Insiders for Dean

Dean has the image of being the outsider who has nothing but bad things to say about those inside the beltway. So you would think that many of the latter would be resentful of Dean's attacks and actively work against him. No doubt many do, especially those who have already signed on to the campaigns of Dean's opponents. But Tom Curry of MSNBC has discovered something amazing: some DC insiders like Dean and wouldn't mind if he gets the nomination. Some are even hoping for it.
Dean gets help from D.C. insiders Insurgent presidential contender is building bridges to the inside-the-Beltway crowd By Tom Curry MSNBC WASHINGTON, July 15 — Maverick Howard Dean, the outside-the-Beltway presidential contender who has expressed scorn for congressional efforts such as a patients’ bill of rights, is getting help from a coterie of Washington insiders, from congressional staffers to veteran lobbyists. On Tuesday Dean continues his wooing of congressional Democrats, meeting with the caucus of 36 fiscally conservative House Democrats known as the Blue Dogs. Dean, the former governor of Vermont, has never served in Congress and plays the role of the acerbic outsider, slamming congressional Democrats, such as his rivals for nomination, Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, for not standing up to Bush on Iraq. “It is a bit of a club down there,” Dean said last month. “The Democratic Party, all the candidates from Washington, they all know each other, they all move in the same circles, and what I’m doing is breaking into the country club.” When Dean first began running for the nomination last fall, in an interview with MSNBC.com he had not heard of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the congressional panel that does the official estimates of the fiscal effects of tax legislation. He does not speak in the Capitol Hill lingo of “tabling the amendment” and “supplemental appropriations.” INSIDERS FOR DEAN But as improbable as it would have seemed three months ago, some Capitol Hill political realists have now accepted — even embraced — the notion that Dean will end up as the Democratic nominee. “I want to beat Bush and I think Dean is the best guy to do that,” said a senior Senate Democratic staffer, who spoke to MSNBC.com on condition that he not be named. “I’m convinced he’s going to win the nomination. He has won ‘the inspiration primary’ and he won the fund-raising primary,” leading all Democratic contenders with $7.5 million raised in the second quarter. This Senate staffer, who has written policy memos for the Dean campaign, said, “my feeling is that Dean is doing a masterful job of capturing the progressive supporters. But he can’t win if he is seen as the captive of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. He has to be seen as someone who is thoughtful, not as a captive. He has to take one or two moderate or conservative positions that would even out his image. Dean can take progressive positions as long as he can balance it.” The Senate staffer said, “He’s perceived to be more liberal than he is. He needs to address that perception.”

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