This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, Feb. 16, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Based on momentum, we know that people don't know any of the three of us particularly well, and what's going on now is simply a rush to anoint the front-runner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Well, Howard Dean (search) was the front-runner a few weeks and more than a few million dollars ago. Dean has now lost every state, and as of today his campaign chairman.
Earlier I spoke with Dean campaign CEO Roy Neel (search) and asked, what is the state of Howard Dean's presidential campaign. Today's big question.
ROY NEEL, CEO, DEAN CAMPAIGN: Well, the Dean campaign for presidency is exactly where it was a week ago, two weeks ago. We've put our stake in the ground in Wisconsin. We're going to do very well tomorrow night. This campaign is going to go on. This movement is going to be kept alive. Governor Dean has said so, and that's what we're working hard to do.
GIBSON: But Roy, I mean, to be frank, everyone is saying that the former governor realizes it's over, but he just doesn't want to depress his very fervent followers, and so is not admitting the obvious and what everyone else knows to be true, which is, it's over.
NEEL: Well, those people aren't talking to me, and they're not talking to the governor and hearing what I'm hearing. I don't see any depression. Our people are working hard. They're pumped up. We're going to do well tomorrow night. This campaign is going to go on. It's still a long way from being over. No one is even close to the number of delegates necessary to win the nomination, and we're going to keep working hard with this.
GIBSON: Do you have any — do you have any plans after Wisconsin?
NEEL: Yes, to put together a schedule for Super Tuesday.
GIBSON: Well, that's what I mean. Do you have the campaign plane chartered? Do you have plans to put commercials on the air, or is everything on hold until Wisconsin and then decide what to do?
NEEL: Well, I think all these campaigns stop and take their breath after one primary. I mean, this is really the way this presidential primary process works, and we've got two weeks to Super Tuesday after tomorrow night. There's time. I mean, these campaigns turn on a dime and go in new directions. You know, fund-raising will take the right direction after tomorrow night, and that will help dictate what you do. We've got plenty of time to put this together.
GIBSON: But, Roy, look, let's just take you out of the role as the Dean campaign manager for a moment. And put you back in your normal role, which is political pro, looking at the whole field. Why would you arguing that John Kerry doesn't have it locked up?
NEEL: Well, because there is — I mean, he needs — he needs some 800 more delegates — no, 1,100 more delegates, I think, to sew up the nomination. It's not over yet. I think Senator Edwards said it last night, and I think we've said the same thing as well. I mean, this campaign is not over. There's still a lot of fighting left in the primary, and, let's face it, the Democratic Party has been helped enormously from this primary process. It's been a good, hard-fought, fair campaign, and it's helped the Democratic party rise. George Bush and his folks are, frankly, up against the wall. They're reeling, in part because of their own mistakes and where they have taken the country. This is a campaign. It's a referendum about George Bush. All these campaigns are united in that. But I'll tell you, this primary is not over, and there's plenty of room to go. There's plenty of room for a new runner to emerge.
GIBSON: Why did we see your campaign, Governor Dean, Dr. Dean, not taking his usual shots at John Kerry last night in the debate? He seemed to be purposely pulling his punches as if he realized there's no point in tearing down what's going to be the obvious nominee?
NEEL: Well, first of all, I don't think that we accept the latter part of that. Senator Kerry may, indeed, ultimately be the nominee. You know, we'll do everything we can to help to beat Bush this fall. It's not a matter of pulling punches. I mean, the question was such that you can almost not resist saying, wait a minute, whatever the role of special interest money is in these other candidates tonight, the real special interest candidate out there is George W. Bush. What he has done with the American economy and how he has sold the country down the road to companies like Halliburton and Enron. That's where the real target is, and I think that's where all the candidates will continue to go.
GIBSON: Roy, I realize you are saying you don't want to go there, but let me just go one more step. If Dr. Dean is not the nominee, does he expect to have some role in the campaign of the nominee and in the administration of the nominee if he is elected?
NEEL: Oh, my gosh. I wouldn't even consider to go there. We're focused on winning this primary tomorrow night. He is going to do everything he can to help defeat George Bush this fall, ideally as the nominee. If something happens and he is not, he is going to make darn sure that we put all our energies into beating George Bush. We're not even thinking about anything after November right now.
GIBSON: Roy Neel, now running the Dean campaign. Roy, thank you very much.
NEEL: Thank you.
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