Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Tagged 'Unelectable,' Dean Still Draws Party Faithful

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Tagged 'Unelectable,' Dean Still Draws Party Faithful

Article excerpt

He began as a boutique candidate, the little-known former governor of Vermont with an unabashedly liberal message.

Now, having beaten all other Democrats in second-quarter presidential fundraising, Howard Dean is confirmed as a force to be reckoned with, the only Democrat with clear momentum as he pulls in his own base of supporters. The specters of Barry Goldwater (1964) and George McGovern (1972) - conservative Republican and liberal Democratic presidential candidates who lost their races spectacularly - loom on the horizon.

"Dean's running as good a campaign as can be imagined right now, because he's going directly to the voters," says independent pollster John Zogby. "That scares the Democratic establishment. But he doesn't need them now."

With six months to go before the first nominating votes are cast, analysts note, it's too soon to predict with any certainty who will win the Democratic nomination. Most voters haven't begun to pay serious attention to the 2004 race, and as events evolve - in Iraq, in the war on terrorism, in the US economy - Democrats' ideas about who best should challenge President Bush could change.

Polls show Governor Dean trailing in polls in the early nominating states, Iowa and New Hampshire. And even though he led in second-quarter fundraising with $7.5 million, he still trails Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry overall for money raised.

But Dean's insurgent candidacy - launched by his fierce opposition to the Iraq war - has garnered all the buzz, and has positioned him as a potential giant-slayer in the nomination battle.

There is still a lot of anger and bitterness among the Democratic electorate over the party's reaction to Iraq, beginning with the buildup to the war, when most major Democrats did not voice forceful opposition. That bitterness works against Democratic contenders like former House leader Dick Gephardt and Sen. Joe Lieberman.

"That's working to Dean's advantage," says John White, a political scientist at Catholic University. "The question is ... can he sustain those advantages against an onslaught on his persona? Does he have the temperament to be president? …

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