Today’s Fantasy Politics from CNN’s Political Gut Check: What if the 2004 presidential race had been Howard Dean vs. George W. Bush?
Early on in the 2004 Democratic primary, the former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean was considered a long shot candidate. This view was not only based on polling, but also on Dean’s attempts to portray himself as an outsider who detached from the Democratic leadership.
But Dean failed to capture mainline Democrats like his primary opponents Sen. John Kerry and Sen. John Edwards did. When Dean finished third in Iowa, after being in the lead for much of the contest, the momentum of the Dean campaign began to waver.
And if it wavered after the loss, it was his Iowa concession speech, at the Val-Air Ballroom in West Des Moines, Iowa, that really took the wind out of Dean’s sail.
In what has become known at the “Dean Scream,” the former governor let out raw emotion when he described his campaign’s next steps, leading voters and the media to criticize the speech as un-presidential and out-of-control.
“Not only are we going to New Hampshire, Tom Harkin, we’re going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we’re going to California and Texas and New York,” exhalted Dean. “And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Yeah.”
But suppose Dean hadn’t finished third in Iowa? What if the “Dean Scream” hadn’t happened and his campaign could have recovered in New Hampshire? Could Dean has beaten Bush?
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