Tuesday, November 9, 2004

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Former presidential candidate Howard Dean is considering a bid to become chairman of the national Democratic Party.

“He told me he was thinking about it,” Steve Grossman, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said yesterday. Mr. Grossman was a Dean backer during the former Vermont governor’s failed presidential bid.

Mr. Dean, who was in Albany, N.Y., last night to give a speech, said he hasn’t decided about the top party job, noting he’d received thousands of e-mails urging him to try for it. He said he’s still uncertain about his future.

“It’s a lot easier to run for president when you don’t know what you’re getting into,” he said. “I will stay involved, believe me.”

During his speech, Mr. Dean said President Bush’s re-election was not a mandate to ignore the views of those who voted against him.

“We’re not retreating. We’re not giving up,” he told an audience of nearly 1,000.

Spokeswoman Laura Gross said earlier yesterday that “it was far too early to be speculating” about the party chairmanship. “The election was less than a week ago.”

The roughly 240 members of the DNC will elect a new chairman early next year. Several names are being mentioned, including former Clinton aide Harold Ickes; Donna Brazile, who ran Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 2000; and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack.

But Mr. Grossman said it is not too soon for Democrats to focus on their future leadership.

“I strongly urged [Mr. Dean] to seek the position,” he said. “Howard is a voice of political empowerment, and that to me is important, for the Democrats to get their sea legs back as quickly as possible, to get beyond the disappointment of the last week and to believe there is a bright future ahead for the Democratic Party.”

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