Transcript: The most important person is the person who doesn't win the nomination. 28 April 2008
Thom riffed on Howard Dean's observation that, "The truth is, we need to figure this out before the convention. We need time to heal. And actually, I'm not the most important person in terms of bringing the party together. The most important person is the, is the person who doesn't win the nomination.
"The truth is, we need to figure this out before the convention. We need time to heal. And actually, I'm not the most important person in terms of bringing the party together. The most important person is the, is the person who doesn't win the nomination.
Because I can remember when, I can remember when I lost to John Kerry, I had to go out and convince my supporters--it took me about three months--that they needed to support Senator Kerry. I endorsed him, I campaigned for him, I went all--to all the college campuses. And that's what the person who doesn't win this, with 49 percent of the delegates, is going to have to do in order to keep the party together."
Howard Dean, 'Meet the Press', April 27, 2008.
"But this raises the question. Barack Obama up to this point has kept his attacks on Hillary Clinton below that threshold where if he went above that threshold he would not be able to support her in the general election. In other words, he has not attacked her in ways that could be used for example by John McCain. He has not attacked her in ways where he would have to go back and say, 'you know, I was wrong when I said that, and now I'm changing my mind'. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, and again, please understand I am not being an Obama partisan when I'm saying this. This is an indictment not of Hillary Clinton but of the way of Mark Penn and what's his name, Wolfson; the guys running her campaign. I think that they are so wrong to be doing this. By saying, for example, that she has experience, John McCain has experience, and Barack Obama has a speech, you know, that's hitting below the belt. How do you then, if she's not the nominee, how do you then do what Howard Dean did, who by the way never hit John Kerry below the belt. How do you then go out and engage in a fifty state strategy where you go from state to state and you campaign? How can she campaigned for Barack Obama?
"I think that it's fairly clear that Barack Obama will be able to successfully campaign for Hillary Clinton, because he hasn't, at least, some people in his campaign certainly have, there have been some vicious attacks on Hillary Clinton by surrogates, by people associated with the campaign, by partisans, you know, just people with bubbling in general and way too much enthusiasm. But it has not come out of the candidate's mouth. And when the candidate says, 'well, you know, I wouldn't have sat in church with that pastor', how is she then going to defend the reverend Wright if she's not the nominee?
"And see, understanding that this is the fundamental dynamic in presidential politics, that the loser in a primary has to become the biggest cheerleader for the winner. Otherwise the winner will not win the general election. As Howard Dean understood in 2004, and in my opinion John Kerry did win that election; it was stolen in Ohio, but that's a whole other thing. But nonetheless to the extent that John Kerry was successful, in large part it was because of Howard Dean. Howard Dean who himself, by the way, was the victim.
"Here we have now down in, I believe South Carolina, you've got these ads which are not even running; have not even run. With, you know, conflating reverend Wright and Obama with a couple of a local candidates and basically trying to say, 'you know this guy' - speaking of Barack Obama - saying, 'you know, this guy is blacker than you thought', or, 'this guy's a more black radical than you thought'. That kind of thing. And it's a, you know, 'scare the white folks in South Carolina' message. The Republicans playing the race card. But they didn't even have to the run the ad on TV. The networks have been all too happy to play it over and over and over again.
"But anyhow, point is, Howard Dean who himself was taken down by Republican hit ads - remember the Club for Growth came into Iowa in Iowa primary when Dean was ahead and dropped one million dollars on television advertising? 'Howard Dean, take your latte drinking, Volvo driving liberals back to Vermont'. And it knocked him out of the race. So he's seen being on the receiving end of Republicans interfering in Democratic primaries, number one.
"And number two as the loser, he's seen and understands the importance of going out there and saying, 'I'm going to support the winner'. Will Barack Obama be able to support Hillary Clinton? Will Hillary Clinton be able to support Barack Obama in the general election? Because absolutely, as Howard Dean said, and this is so important, and they need to be thinking this every time they put together a campaign commercial, every time they make a statement on the stump, every time Bill Clinton opens his mouth or Michelle Obama for that matter, they need to be thinking this: 'I may have to campaign for that person in the fall'. And frankly, you and I have to be thinking about this as well."