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Former Governor Becomes Latest US Presidential Candidate - 2003-06-23

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean officially announced his intention Monday to seek the Democratic Party's presidential nomination next year.

Even though he has been running hard for president for most of the past year, former Governor Dean chose to make an official announcement of his intentions in Burlington, Vermont.

"Today I announce that I am running for the presidency of the United States of America," he said.

Dean, 50, served as Vermont's governor for 12 years and built a reputation as a social liberal but a fiscal conservative.

Mr. Dean is critical of the Bush administration's domestic and foreign policies. He has criticized the president's tax cuts aimed at stimulating the domestic economy and he opposed the war in Iraq.

He is not well known nationally but he is building a following among Democrats for his blunt-spoken style and appeal to liberal values:

"You have the power to take back the Democratic Party! You have the power to take our country back and you have the power to take the White House back in 2004!," he said.

Mr. Dean began as a long shot for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. But in the past several months the feisty former governor has set himself apart from much of the field as a Washington outsider and an exciting speaker before Democratic activist groups.

Public opinion polls show him among the top three Democrats running for president in the early contest states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Mr. Dean is one of nine Democrats seeking to challenge President Bush next year.