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Ousted campaign manager says he still believes in Dean

Trippi leaves Dean's campaign headquarters after resigning as campaign manager Wednesday.
Trippi leaves Dean's campaign headquarters after resigning as campaign manager Wednesday.

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(CNN) -- Joe Trippi, who until one day ago ran Howard Dean's presidential campaign, said Thursday he still believes in the candidate and is confident he will be selected as the Democratic Party's nominee for president.

Trippi left the Dean campaign Wednesday after the former Vermont governor asked Roy Neel -- a one-time senatorial and vice presidential chief of staff to Al Gore -- to be the new chief executive officer. (Full story)

"I still believe Howard Dean's going to be the nominee, and I think he's the candidate who can change this country," Trippi told MSNBC.

Trippi said that even though he's no longer running the campaign, he's with it in his heart.

"You can't have two captains. I just don't believe you can do that. And I thought the best thing for me to do would be to resign and help change the country in a different way, as a citizen Dean supporter instead of campaign manager."

The former campaign manager is credited with overseeing Dean's rise from dark horse to Democratic front-runner before he came in third in the Iowa caucuses and second in the New Hampshire primary.

Dean said Neel's appointment as the campaign's chief executive officer was necessary to centralize the campaign's internal decision-making process.

Although Trippi insisted repeatedly it was his idea to leave the campaign, he broke down in tears three times during the interview.

"I told him [Dean] that he really had inspired me in Iowa about a year ago," Trippi said, his voice breaking. "Well, when you give something this much of your life and the sacrifices that you make, he really did and he still does [inspire me]."

Trippi was still championing his candidate, at one point discounting reports of the campaign's money problems as an "us against them" issue.

"There's a reason some of the other campaigns are trying to spin that, 'cause they'd like to see the Dean campaign gone, but they've been trying to make us gone for a long time and it hasn't worked."

"I think the campaign has the money it needs to fight on," Trippi said, adding that the grass-roots support is continuing and donations are still coming in.

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