Transcript: Howard Dean on 'FOX News Sunday'

The following is a partial transcript of the May 4, 2008, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: And hello again from Fox News in Washington. Well, with the next crucial primaries at hand for Democrats and a narrow Obama win in the Guam caucus yesterday, here's where we stand in the fight for the Democratic nomination.

Barack Obama leads in delegates by 135. He needs 283 more to secure the nomination. And in the popular vote, excluding Florida and Michigan, he's still ahead of Hillary Clinton by more than 500,000.

Joining us now to discuss the long, tight race is Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic Party.

Governor, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday."


WALLACE: The Democratic National Committee is now running an ad that attacks John McCain's position on the war in Iraq. Let's take a look.


NARRATOR: President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for 50 years.

MCCAIN: Maybe 100. That would be fine with me.


WALLACE: Governor, why are you distorting what McCain actually said?

DEAN: Well, I'm not. I actually have what he actually said. And if the Republican National Committee would like to pay for the whole six minutes, I'd be happy to do it.

I've said publicly that John McCain said that he wants to keep our troops in Iraq for up to 100 years. He himself said that some of that could be occupation like South Korea or Germany.

But the fact of the matter is, first, that anybody who thinks that we can keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years without them being victimized by roadside bombs, suicide bombers and militias I think is wrong and needs their judgment — to look carefully at their judgment.

And secondly, Americans don't want our troops in Iraq for 100 years, no matter what they're doing over there. We can't afford that. We need the money here at home for our jobs.

WALLACE: Well, Governor, let's take a look — and it's not going to take six minutes. Let's take a look at what John McCain actually said that day in New Hampshire. Here it is.


MCCAIN: Maybe 100. We've been in South Korea — we've been in Japan for 60 years. We've been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That would be fine with me, as long as Americans are not being injured, or harmed, or wounded, or killed.


WALLACE: Governor, you not only left out the part, as you said, where he talked about Americans keeping the peace very much as we have for a half century in Japan and North Korea, you also took the part where he said that would be fine with me, but then you clipped out the very next words he said, which were, "as long as Americans aren't being hurt or killed."

The non-partisan group said, "What the DNC ad conveys is the opposite of what McCain said."

DEAN: I don't think that's so, Chris. What John McCain said is his plan is — to deal with Iraq is to stay there maybe for 100 years, whether it's an occupational force or whatever the force is.

Americans do not want our troops there for 100 years. Look. We have huge deficits. Iraq is partly responsible for that. We're not investing in health care. We're not investing in our roads. We've got unemployment rising. We need to bring our troops out of Iraq.

John McCain wants to stay in Iraq.

WALLACE: But you don't think there's anything...

DEAN: He has no plan — he has no plan to bring our troops home.

WALLACE: Listen, I think there's plenty...

DEAN: Our guys do have a plan to bring our troops home.

WALLACE: ... plenty to disagree with on John McCain's plan in Iraq. I'm saying when he says, "That would be fine with me," — that's what you put in, and then you clip out the next words, which are, "as long as Americans aren't getting hurt."

And an independent group says you've completely distorted what he said. You've got no problems with that?

DEAN: Our problem is that John McCain is distorting — is distorting what he said. The fact of the matter is he began and ended his clip by saying he's willing to stay in Iraq for 100 years.

That is not what the American people want under any circumstances, whether it's like South Korea, or whether it's like Germany or whether it's continuing for 100 years to be sniped at by Shia militia and so forth.

WALLACE: Governor, let's take...

DEAN: We don't belong in Iraq. We shouldn't have gone there, and we don't belong there.

WALLACE: Governor, let's take a look at another of your ads, this time hitting what McCain has to say about the economy. Let's watch.


MCCAIN: I think you could argue that Americans overall are better off because we have had a pretty good, prosperous time.


WALLACE: But, Governor, you edited out what John McCain said in the very next sentence. Let's watch that.


MCCAIN: But let's have some straight talk. Things are tough right now. Americans are uncertain of this housing crisis. Americans are uncertain about the economy.


WALLACE: When there are such real big differences between the two parties this year, and there certainly are, why misrepresent what McCain is saying?

DEAN: And, Chris, if you had gone on to play that thing that you just played, you would have seen him say again at the end, "but Americans are better off than they were," and they are not.

Gas prices have gone from $1.10 a gallon in December of 2001 to about $3.50 now. The average American income was $49,000 in 2001. In 2006 it was $48,000. That is unprecedented. Never have we had a president who come in where the average American income dropped $1,000 in the first six years of their term.

And what McCain is offering is four more years of George Bush. He wants to extend the Bush tax cuts. Of course, he was opposed to that two years ago.

He wants to give a tax holiday on gas. It's fine and good. And then he wants to pay for it by increasing taxes or increasing what he called user fees, which he said was a tax increase himself when he was debating that with Mitt Romney.

He has no economic plan. He has no plan for getting us out of Iraq. And I don't think our ads misrepresent anything.

WALLACE: Let's turn, if we can — I just want to follow up for one second, without getting into his whole record. When you have him saying that things are better, and in the very next sentence he says that, you know, I understand things are tough with the housing crisis and the economy, that's not a misrepresentation?

DEAN: And then he concludes by saying, "but things are better." They're not better. Americans know it and John McCain is simply out of touch.

WALLACE: All right. Let's turn to the Democratic campaign. There's growing concern in your party that this long, bitter fight is actually hurting the party's chances in November.

Former party chair and superdelegate Joe Andrew wrote this week, "It is clear that a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote to continue this process, and a vote to continue this process is a vote that assists John McCain."

And a poll of Democratic voters found by a margin of 51 percent to 35 percent, they now think it's bad that you don't have a nominee. Governor, are they all wrong?

DEAN: I would like to have a nominee soon, but there are also some very good things going on. Thirty-five million people have voted. We have all those folks in our voter file.

Hundreds of thousands of Republicans have left their party and come to vote in our primary. We have all those people in our voter file.

I didn't intend this when we started the 50-state strategy, but we're essentially conducting vigorous primaries in all 50 states and in our territories, and that's going to matter in the fall.

We have never had an election season like this, I think, in the last 40 years where the last state made just as big a difference as the first state did. So there are some good things going on.

Yeah, it's tough on the party. It's why I think that the unpledged delegates need to say who they're for by the end of June so we'll know who our nominee is by the end of June.

But there is also enormous merit to everybody in America getting a chance to vote for these candidates in the primaries.

WALLACE: But let's talk about some of the damage that's been caused by this long, bitter fight, Governor. In races around the country, Republican state parties are now running ads linking Barack Obama to local candidates, and it got so bad in Mississippi that one of your Democrats there had to disavow Obama. Let's watch the charge and countercharge.


NARRATOR: Obama's pastor cursed America, blaming us for 9/11. Childers said nothing. When Obama ridiculed rural folks for clinging to guns and religion, Childers said nothing.



TRAVIS CHILDERS: This campaign has been one for the books. My family has heard the lies and attacks linking me to politicians I don't know and have never even met.


WALLACE: Governor, has the Reverend Wright controversy made Obama radioactive among Democratic candidates down ticket?

DEAN: First of all, I'm not going to get into the Reverend Wright at all. I think we've spent enough time on Reverend Wright.

The fact of the matter is what people are really interested in is the war, the economy and health care. And that is what the battle is. And the frank truth is that John McCain is out of step on the war, the economy and health care.

Look, the Republicans have run this...

WALLACE: But, Governor, I'll give you plenty of chance to go after McCain, and that's fair, but I'm asking you a specific question here, which is when you've got — and it's not just there; it was in Louisiana, it was in North Carolina, it's been in Mississippi — where they're linking Obama and Wright to their local candidates.

And in this one case in Mississippi, you had a local candidate saying, "Obama? Never heard of the guy." I mean, it indicates that he's a problem or a drag, at least in the minds of some local Democratic candidates.

DEAN: Chris, the Republicans — for the last 30 years, the Republican book is to race bait and to use hate and divisiveness. In 2006, the American people said no to that, and I think they're going to say no to that in 2008.

It is true that the economy, the war and health care are more important to the American people. They are tired of the divisiveness of what the Republicans have done to them, and that's why the Republicans are in trouble, deep trouble.

WALLACE: Governor, are you suggesting...

DEAN: Eight more years of George Bush is not what we need.

WALLACE: Governor, are you suggesting that bringing up Jeremiah Wright is race baiting, and hate and divisive?

DEAN: Yeah, I am suggesting that kind of stuff. I think when you start bringing up candidates that have nothing to do with the issue — when you start bringing up things that have nothing to do with the candidate and nothing to do with the issues, that's race baiting, and that's exactly what it is, just like Willie Horton was race baiting so many years ago.

I think we're going to take a — we're going to turn the page on this stuff. I tell you, you know, there's a lot of difference between the Republicans and the Democrats on issues, but the biggest issue of all is we don't use this kind of stuff. We never have used this kind of stuff, and we're not going to start now.

America is more important than the Republican Party, and that's the lesson that the voters are about to teach the Republicans.

WALLACE: But, Governor, I've got to tell you, when I interviewed Barack Obama last week, he said he thought that the Reverend Wright issue was a legitimate political issue — his words.

DEAN: Well, he can say whatever he wants. I'm going to say whatever I want. I'm not getting into Reverend Wright. He's caused enough trouble for our country over the last several weeks.

What I am going to say is that I think America — the American people want a united country. For the first time in 30 years, they want us to stop hating each other. They want us to work together. And I think that's what the issue is. That's what our message is going to be.

And we're not going to get into all this stuff about divisive figures. We're just not going to do it.

WALLACE: Governor — and not to say that we've been counting, but it has been almost 19 months since you've appeared here or on any FOX program. How do you explain the fact that in less than a week — and we're very happy to have you — that Governor Dean and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have all shown up on FOX?

DEAN: Well, first of all, your audience is important to us. A lot of your audience are working-class Democrats, the kind of people who will vote either way, and we'd like them to vote Democrat.

And second of all, you gave us a fair opportunity to talk about Senator McCain's record. The truth is that if ordinary people in this country knew what Senator McCain believed about the economy and about Iraq, they wouldn't support him.

And that's one of the reasons the Republicans have put such a big fuss up about our ads, is because those ads really move independent voters.

Senator McCain is an honorable person. He served this country with great honor during the war. But Senator McCain is not the right person to lead America into the future.

WALLACE: Governor, again, I'm going to bring you back.

DEAN: And when people see these...

WALLACE: We'll give you plenty of time to bash McCain.

DEAN: Sure.

WALLACE: The left wing of your party is in a snit over all these Democrats appearing on FOX. In fact, the head of had this to say about Democrats on FOX, "It legitimizes a right-wing network that is going to use that credibility to smear them, " the Democrats, "in the general election."

He and the head of the Daily Kos are using words about you guys showing up here as weak, idiotic, stupid. How do you respond to the left wing?

DEAN: What I'd say is this. We stayed off FOX for a long time because your news department is, in fact, biased. But, Chris, you haven't been. We've always been — you've always been tough but I always thought fair, and I still think that's true.

And we need to communicate with people who are going to vote in the Democratic Party. Hundreds of thousands of Republicans have turned their back on their own party to vote in the Democratic primaries in the last six months.

We owe it to our — to all the American people to reach out to those folks. This is not about FOX News. That's not why I'm here today. I'm out because I want to talk to your viewers directly about why this election is important and what we can offer the American people.

WALLACE: And let me ask you — and obviously, it's always about the millions of people who watch these shows — looking back, do you think it was a mistake for the Democratic Party to boycott Fox debates and all the other programs during the last year, and thereby boycott getting your message out to the millions of people who watch?

DEAN: No, I think it was the right thing to do, because there are some things in the news department that have really been shockingly biased, and I think that's wrong. And I'll just say so right up front.

But it is important also for us not — we shouldn't punish the viewers of FOX by staying away. Now the viewers have had an opportunity to look at the debates on other channels. Now they're going to have an opportunity viewing on this channel, and I think that's fair.

WALLACE: Governor Dean, we're always happy to have you on FOX. Thank you for talking with us, and please come back, sir.

DEAN: Chris, thanks for having me on.

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