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Inside Politics

Dean predicts comeback, takes swipe at media

Judy Dean says she would give up medical practice

Howard Dean predicts victory in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday. At right is Dean's wife, Judy.
Howard Dean predicts victory in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday. At right is Dean's wife, Judy.

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CNN's Wolf Blitzer talks to Howard Dean and his wife, Judy, on the eve of the New Hampshire primary.
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America Votes 2004
Howard Dean
Presidential primaries
Democratic candidates

NASHUA, New Hampshire (CNN) -- Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said Monday that he is making a comeback in New Hampshire, and predicted he would close the gap with Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts before the Democratic primary Tuesday.

"I think we can. It's very close," he said in an interview on CNN's "Wolf Blitzer Reports." "We've been surging in the last few days.

Dean said his comments questioning Kerry's judgment in voting for the Iraq war but against the Persian Gulf War in 1991 do not amount to negative campaigning, as Kerry has charged.

Dean said he was making a legitimate comparison of their records so voters could contrast how each would make foreign policy decisions if elected.

"I do question Senator Kerry's judgment," he said. "[He] voted against the first Gulf War, which I supported, when there were Iraqi troops on the ground in Kuwait setting fire to the Kuwaiti oil fields, which was a major environmental catastrophe.

"He voted not to intervene, then he votes to intervene recently in Iraq, which I opposed, because the president gives him all these reasons, so far all of which turned out not to be true."

Dean, whose foreign policy credentials have been questioned by Kerry and other rivals, said "perhaps my foreign policy experience and judgment might be better in the White House than his, since he seemed to have voted wrong on both wars."

After taking a drubbing for his growling performance after coming in third in the Iowa caucuses, Dean took a swipe at the news media.

"I never worry about the news media being fair. The news media does what the news media does. They're an entertainment businesses at least as much as the news media," he said.

"I think you report the news, you create the news and that's what you guys do. And that's fine."

Challenged by Blitzer that the media did not create his performance in Des Moines, Dean said, "But you chose to play it 673 times in one week. That's your privilege.

"If you want to be president of the United States, you had better be willing to take whatever the news media throw at you, and I'm very willing to take it," he said.

Dean's wife, Judy, said that if her husband is elected president, she would reluctantly give up her medical practice in Vermont, though she held out the possibility that she might return to medicine once in Washington.

"I really enjoy my practice. I'm a good doctor, my patients like me, they've been my patients for a long time. It would be hard to give them up," Mrs. Dean said. "But there's not a lot of things more important than being president."

Until Iowa, Mrs. Dean was rarely seen on the campaign trail, opting to stay in Vermont to tend to her patients and the couple's teenage son.

But she went to Iowa near the close of the campaign, and after her husband's weak performance there she has been a more visible presence in New Hampshire.

Dean said his tepid performance in Iowa was the result of having spent nearly two months as the front-runner in the race, under scrutiny from the media and attacks from his opponents that put his campaign on the defensive.

"We were hammered," he said.

Dean said no matter what happens Tuesday night in New Hampshire, he intends "to go on as long as it makes sense to."

He said he would concentrate on five of the seven states that have primaries or caucuses February 3 -- South Carolina, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Missouri -- and said he has organizations in place to compete in the other two, North Dakota and Delaware.

"One of the things that happened when things were great before Iowa is that we did put a lot of resources into these forward states," Dean said.

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