- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 27, 2004

DURHAM, N.H. — Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has stanched the bleeding from his defeat last week in the Iowa caucuses, according to several polls on the eve of New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary.

Although he still trails Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, Mr. Dean’s support is holding steady at about 25 percent, according to several polls, down from as high as 39 percent before delivering his ranting concession speech in Iowa.

A Zogby-MSNBC-Reuters tracking poll released yesterday shows Mr. Dean with 28 percent support among those participating in today’s New Hampshire primary. At a statistically insignificant three percentage points behind Mr. Kerry, he remains within striking distance of first place.

But still, many of his supporters and former supporters say, Mr. Dean has lost the magic invincibility that propelled him into front-runner status before the Iowa caucuses.

“I have concerns about him,” said Deborah Regan, 49, of Hampton Falls, who had supported Mr. Dean from early on. “I don’t love him.”

Ms. Regan began worrying about Mr. Dean after he went wild onstage in Iowa, letting out a primal scream after shouting off a list of the states with early primaries and caucuses.

“He is intense,” she said, while waiting to hear Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina speak at a Unitarian church in Portsmouth yesterday.

The man who once raised $500,000 over the Internet in three days now is raising money like a mere mortal. The “Come Back Bat” meter on his Web site shows the campaign is slightly less than halfway to its goal of $1 million raised since the Iowa caucuses.

Some of the support that Mr. Dean has lost has been public, such as the withdrawal of an endorsement by former Sen. John Durkin of New Hampshire. Mr. Durkin defected to Mr. Edwards’ campaign. Also, earlier endorsers such as former Vice President Al Gore and his 2000 primary opponent Bill Bradley have been absent from the campaign trail in New Hampshire in the past week.

Mr. Dean said yesterday he is confident of victory here and blamed his poor third-place showing in Iowa on dirty tricks played by other Democrats running for the nomination.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing a few of those tricks in the Democratic primary, and we are getting better at getting used to that sort of thing,” he said.

Dean supporters have gotten phone calls, for example, criticizing Mr. Dean’s claim that he is Christian because his wife and children are Jewish, according to the campaign. An e-mail purporting to be from the Dean campaign also was sent out telling homosexuals not to join as volunteers because of limited sleeping quarters.

Because Mr. Dean’s infamous Iowa concession speech has been aired so often as to become background noise, the candidate strives to remain sedate during campaign appearances.

At the University of New Hampshire yesterday, Mr. Dean mounted the stage in front of a cheering crowd. He kept his suit jacket on, waved calmly and had one hand stuck in his pocket.

That’s not to say he doesn’t still raise the roof. Mr. Dean got raucous applause from the crowd of mostly college students when he told them that globalization hasn’t gone far enough.

“The reason our trade agreements don’t work is not because we’ve done too much globalization,” he said. “It’s because we’ve done too little.”

The World Trade Organization and U.S. foreign-trade pacts, he said, have globalized corporations’ ability to trade worldwide, without globalizing human rights and the rights of workers to organize and without globalizing environmental standards.

Fully globalizing, Mr. Dean said, would create middle classes in every country and prevent threats to U.S. national security.

Although he remained low key on the stump, Mr. Dean has begun to fight back. Hitting on some of his trademark themes, Mr. Dean pounded President Bush and Mr. Kerry.

He called the current administration the “credit-card presidency” for going into debt to pay for the war and tax cuts. He also scoffed at the recently announced plans for putting a man on Mars, suggesting that sending Mr. Bush there “is not a bad idea.”

He also took Mr. Kerry to task for supporting the current war in Iraq and not supporting the 1991 Persian Gulf war to repel Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

“I ask you: What kind of foreign-policy experience do you want in the White House?” he said.

Mr. Dean also criticized the rest of his Democratic competitors for promising everything to everyone — keeping Mr. Bush’s tax cuts for the middle class; providing free college tuition; promising universal health care — while attacking Mr. Bush for running a huge deficit.

“You know why 50 percent of the people in this country don’t vote?” he asked. “It’s because they hear politicians talking like that every single time before an election, and then they forget about it when they get to Washington.”

Lili Ellison, 72, hasn’t decided whether she’ll vote for Mr. Dean, but defended him.

“The media really overdid the [Iowa] scream,” she said. “The poor guy.”

All she cares about, she said, is voting for someone who can beat Mr. Bush. She pointed to the copy of Sunday’s New York Times Book Review she was reading while waiting for Mr. Dean to arrive.

“Three years into the presidency of George W. Bush, many people here and abroad fear and loathe our country, its power, its policies, its pride,” read the Times cover. “Is America an evil empire?”

“He’s the scariest man that’s ever been there, including Richard Nixon,” said Ms. Ellison, who lived in France as a girl. “A country should not be run as a corporation.”

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