MANCHESTER, N.H. – The butt of late-night jokes and Internet-shared parodies of his rant during a campaign rally, Howard Dean (search) turned to television to show a softer side to viewers and join in all the laughter at his expense.
Dean and his wife, Judy, wore sweaters in a living-room setting as they spoke with Diane Sawyer on ABC's "Primetime Thursday." The former Vermont governor said he was not perfect and had made mistakes in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president.
Click here to view Dean's speech.
Although Dean has tried to shift the focus to his nearly 12 years as governor, the speech lives on -- on the Internet, late-night comedy shows and in the minds of potential New Hampshire (search) voters who have mentioned it to pollsters. Even his own advisers believe the performance damaged Dean's political hopes, perhaps irreparably.
A humbled Dean tried to put the matter to rest Thursday, chalking it up to the kind of passion that would make him a tough rival of President Bush.
"I say things that I probably ought not to say," Dean told Sawyer while watching a tape of the rally, "but I lead with my heart, and that's what I was doing right there, leading with my heart."
Judy Dean, in her first television interview of the campaign, said, "I thought it looked kind of silly ... but I thought it looked OK."
The Deans discussed their marriage and why Judy Dean had decided to continue her work as a primary-care physician and mother of two teenagers rather than join her husband on the campaign trail.
"I support Howard totally in what he's doing and I think he'd make a great president ... I would like to be there more when I talk to him every night," she said. "But home and my practice is very, very important."
Her husband's arm around her, Judy Dean said Dean didn't have much of a temper, and she couldn't recall the last time he had lost it.
"We've been married for 23 years, and he is very easy to get along with," she said. "He just doesn't get that angry. I mean, he doesn't. You know, he just ... he's very kind, very considerate, and it just doesn't happen."
Dean's bellowing address to 3,500 supporters after coming in third in the Iowa caucuses — punctuated by a cry that Democratic strategist Donna Brazile has called "that awful animal sound" — energized discussion of his ability to defeat President Bush or even capture the Democratic nomination he seemed at one time on track to win handily.
In the days that followed the speech, Dean tried to shift the focus to the policies that underscored his campaign and marked his nearly 12 years as governor of Vermont. Shown over and over on television news programs, even on the sports channel ESPN, and sampled for Internet music parodies, the speech made its way into the popular culture.
In his ABC interview, Dean did not apologize for the performance but explained it as campaign exuberance designed to fire up supporters downcast by the top-two finishes of rivals John Kerry and John Edwards among Iowa voters.
"I was having a great time, look at me. I was," Dean said as he watched a tape of his performance. "I am not a perfect person, believe me, I have all kinds of warts."
Dean said he agreed with those who thought his Iowa speech was not presidential.
"I would not make the case for a moment that that was presidential. Not for a moment. Last time I went to a hockey game, my son got an assist on the first goal, I went 'Yahoo!' and jumped up in the air. That's presidential? Probably not. So, I'm a dad, I'm a human being, I'm going to keep being a dad and a human being."
Acknowledging that the speech could hurt his campaign, Dean said: "But there's nothing I can do about it. I did it. I own it. Maybe it was over the top. I was trying to pump up 3,500 kids who gave me three weeks of their lives, and I'm not a perfect person. But, my attitude is, that's done. And, now we gotta get back to running for president."