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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Monday, February 24, 2003


Clinton comments on Dean

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, February 24, 2003 permalink View blog reactions

From the James Fallows interview in The Atlantic (in the follow-up questions asked via email)

Governors vs. senators. Mr. Clinton also spoke about the advantage governors have as candidates, based on their real-world operating knowledge. The one governor now in the race is Howard Dean, who is generally believed to be a long-shot. Does President Clinton think that the advantages that come with a governor's background could make Dean a serious contender for the presidency?

Howard Dean has been a good governor. He has done important things, and his background as a governor does bring advantages. However, because I don't plan to endorse a candidate before the party makes its choice, I don't want to 'handicap" the race.

Previously in that interview, Clinton talks about the rumor that he had called Edwards after his Meet The Press interview and told him to "hit the books before you go out in public again." Clinton says that wasn't accuracte, but had a smidgen of truth, and then goes on to give this advice in general to all the Democratic hopefuls:

I told him: John, you're great on TV. You make a great talk. You can talk an owl out of a tree. But my opinion is, presidential elections are won by the strength of the candidate, and having a network of support, and then by the mega message, having the big message. And that it's easier for a governor than a senator to have a big message. It may be easier for a senator than a governor to have the right position on all the issues seriatim.

Every presidential election is really about three things. At the bottom level it's about the specific issues. Then there's the big deal. What's this election about? What's the subject of the election, what's the meta message? And then right at the top is, How do you feel about this person to be President?

It is interesting to discuss how Dean fits these guidelines, arguably better than any other candidate.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.