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Democratic Presidential Candidate Dean Struggles to Regain Momentum - 2004-01-23


Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean is struggling to regain political momentum just days before the next major test in the 2004 presidential campaign, Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. National correspondent Jim Malone spent some time Friday with both Mr. Dean and the new Democratic frontrunner, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.

Howard Dean, his voice raspy and sounding tired, tried to rally some of his New Hampshire supporters even as recent polls indicate that Senator John Kerry moved into a solid lead here.

"I have plenty of flaws, which have generously been pointed out by both my opponents and the media," he said. "But one thing that is not a flaw that we need a dose of in Washington is somebody who is willing to stand up for what they believe in, even if it is not popular."

The flaw both Dean detractors and supporters are talking about was his raucous concession speech in Iowa Monday night when he tried to whip up excitement among his campaign workers who were depressed with his third place showing in Iowa.

"Oregon and Washington and Michigan! And then we are going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Wee-yah!" he shouted.

Even some Dean supporters described that moment as "over the top" and all this week the former Vermont governor has been trying to find his political footing again even as Senator Kerry shoots past him in the polls. The Iowa speech has become fodder for late night comedians and radio talk shows all across the United States.

Despite signs of a flagging campaign and a tired candidate, several Dean supporters who turned out to hear his speech in Londonderry Friday were not disappointed.

Cheryl Whitney is from nearby Derry, New Hampshire and has been a Dean supporter for several months now.

"Even all the talk they have been having about his speech in Iowa. I thought it was fabulous and that he showed an lot of passion," she said. "That matters to me. He's got passion for the right reasons and I think that is awesome."

A few kilometers away, the new man at the front of the Democratic pack, Senator John Kerry, took time to greet voters at a diner.

The media crush that once surrounded Howard Dean has now shifted to Senator Kerry and the Massachusetts Democrat seemed very upbeat after talking to voters over eggs and pancakes.

A total of seven contenders remain in the running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. In addition to candidates Kerry and Dean, other strong contenders in New Hampshire are retired General Wesley Clark and North Carolina Senator John Edwards.

Senator Edwards in particular is drawing strong crowds here in the wake of his surprising second place finish in Iowa. The latest polls also show General Clark within striking distance of Howard Dean for second place in New Hampshire.

But the polls also show that between 20 and 30 percent of Democrats here have yet to make up their minds.

The three remaining Democratic candidates appear to be less of a factor at this point. They include Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich and New York civil rights activist Al Sharpton.

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