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Inside Politics

Dean campaign collects the cash and enjoys the buzz

By Bob Schneider
CNN Political Unit

Presidential hopeful Howard Dean smiles as he is greeted by supporters before speaking at a recent rally in Iowa.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- This has been Howard Dean's week. He's won the latest money chase. He's received plenty of buzz. And now he's getting the political Play of the Week.

"The last eight days are the most amazing eight days in the history of American politics," Joe Trippi, Dean's campaign manager, said on Monday.

Well, it was impressive -- $3.5 million was raised for the former Vermont governor's campaign in eight days.

Dean topped Democratic fund-raising for the second quarter, pulling in more than $7 million. A lot of the money was accumulated through small contributions over the Internet.

The pros are impressed.

"This is a very, very powerful showing for Howard Dean. There's no question about it," said Democratic consultant Harold Ickes.

There's something going on here.

"Bush is driving people crazy, and they finally have heard somebody who's saying what is on their minds, and we've all found each other, and Hallelujah we're not nuts!" said Dean supporter Nancy Richardson at a meet up event in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

What is it they see in Howard Dean? A Democrat who will stand up to President Bush. Here's what Dean says in one of his campaign ads: "I'm running for president because the only way to beat George Bush is to stand up to him."

Phil Devillis is a Dean supporter. "He is really well-poised to take on President Bush. I think he wouldn't let him get away with stuff in debates. He would be very tough on him," Devillis said.

This week, Dean fired up his base and broke into the top tier of candidates.

"The rest of the campaigns kind of laughed at us and rolled their eyes and went, 'Yeah right.' Well I think today they're going, 'Oh, man,' " said Trippi.

They sure are -- because Howard Dean just won the political Play of the Week.

The Dean campaign says the money started coming in immediately after Dean's much criticized performance on NBC's "Meet the Press.'' What his supporters saw was a Democrat standing up to the press.

A press they believe has sold out to the right -- just like the Washington Democratic Establishment.

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