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Howard Dean on Women’s Rights, Elections, Iraq and Israel’s Assassination Policy

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Former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, speaks with Democracy Now! before addressing the crowd at the March For Women’s Lives in Washington DC. He says the U.S. should hand over control of Iraq to the United Nations, discusses the presidential election and says he supports Israel’s assassination of Hamas leaders. [includes rush transcript]

  • Howard Dean, former Democratic presidential candidate.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Also before the main stage went live, we had a chance to catch up with former democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, Pacifica radio was broadcasting the historic march. Vernon Avery Brown and I questioned him about a number of issues, including the situation in Iraq.

HOWARD DEAN: I think that this president has no — had no ideas what he was getting into when he did this. I think that if I were president today, I would actually agree — I would not send more American troops, but I think I would send international troops because I would try to rekindle the relationships that George bush destroyed with our allies. Ultimately, now that we’re there and we’ve done all these things to Iraqis, we ought to try to leave Iraq as close to the democratic society as we possibly can. I do believe it’s irresponsible just to pull out the troops. First of all, it’s irresponsible from a position of national security because either Al Qaeda, which is there now, although it wasn’t before we were there, Al Qaeda, is a danger. I think a fundamentalist theocracy in Iraq certainly isn’t going to do anything for women’s rights and I think the right thing to do is try to have a democratic constitution with women’s rights protected as much as possible. So, the right thing to do is to turn this over to the United Nations as soon as possible and stop this from being an American occupation, have this be an international reconstruction. And I think John Kerry, as president, will be able to do that. We disagree on sending troops, but American troops, but in the long run again I think the difference between the two will be much less likely to have a headstrong foreign policy based on ideology under president Kerry than we are under President Bush.

AMY GOODMAN: You talked about your differences with John Kerry right now. Can you enumerate what some of them are?

HOWARD DEAN: Well, no, I think you’ve done a very good job enumerating what they all are. Let’s talk about the similarities for a minute. His health care plan is almost exactly like mine. We cover every single person with a plan that we think can pass congress and will be paid for by eliminating the tax cuts on all these people that George Bush gave tax cuts to who don’t need them. John Kerry’s always been an excellent environmentalist. He is a strong supporter of renewable energy, cut off the flow of oil money to the Middle East, which I think would be a positive thing. I think his position on women’s rights is extraordinary. George Bush’s is dreadful. There are a lot of things we have in common. Again, I’m vigorously supporting of it. Sure, we don’t agree on everything. Sure I wish I won, but I didn’t. And in a democracy, you have to pick between two people. One of two people will be president of the United States after January. It will be John Kerry or George Bush.

ANOTHER REPORTER: What are the possibilities that you would be considered for the number two slot, the vice-presidential slot, on the John Kerry ticket?

HOWARD DEAN: I have no say over that one. I’ll do whatever I can to help the Democratic Party.

AMY GOODMAN: And concern that —

HOWARD DEAN: The concern that people have — >> [inaudible].

AMY GOODMAN: Ok. And that is this. John Kerry taking positions now when he was on Tim Russert’s “Meet The Press” where he was asking him continually, do you disagree with Bush on, for example, the issue of assassination of Hamas leader and he said, no, he supported Bush and his support for Sharon, questioning about the right to return. Another issue is an in Israel talking about sending in more troops. Many people feel Al Gore lost, aside from having the elections stolen from him, because he started to take the progressive base for granted and was looking too much like Bush at the time. Do you see that could possibly happen with John Kerry right now; that people will feel increasingly — they may not feel they have someone else to go, but they’re not galvanized to get out there?

HOWARD DEAN: There’s no question that my whole philosophy during the campaign is you have to galvanize your base. This is not an election won at the middle, it is won at the base level by guessing people out to vote and making them enthusiastic, giving them that really good reason to vote. So, you know, my whole theory of this election has always been to look at what Karl Rove did and Ralph Reed did in the last two elections. Energize your base. You’ve got to do that and get them out and give them a reason to vote.

AMY GOODMAN: And do you think that’s happening now when you tell people not to vote for Nader and yet you see the direction that Kerry is going on in on these issues? For example, do you support his stance supporting the assassination of Rantisi?

HOWARD DEAN: Here’s where I am on Israel. I do support the stance of supporting the assassination of Hamas leaders. They are terrorists and want to kill people and children. I do not support Sharon’s stance on taking over the Palestinian territories. That’s a mistake and it is not going to make Israel safer. There are differences that I have with both John Kerry and president Bush on that issue. Again, you have to look at the whole picture. No question that John Kerry will make a much, much better president than George Bush and I have to go. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Does assassinating leaders make the world leaders make the world safer? — England condemned it. France condemned it. Germany condemned it. Japan condemned it.

HOWARD DEAN: I disagree with you folk on this one. Those people are trying to kill women and children. I think people who kill women and children are wrong, whether they’re Arabs, Jews or Americans. We shouldn’t be doing it.

AMY GOODMAN: Would you put Sharon in that category? —-—

AMY GOODMAN: And that was Howard Dean getting up from the Pacifica radio table.

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