The day after the progressive activist organization he founded got on board with a grassroots movement to draft Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for President, former Democratic National Chairman and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean endorsed Hillary Clinton.
Confusing? Neil Sroka, communications director for Democracy for America and former campaign spokesman for Rep. Ann Kuster, said it’s understandable that two developments may be viewed as mixed messages. But, he said, Howard Dean, while the founder and still an adviser to DFA, made his own personal decision on the Clinton endorsement.
He said that Dean did not try to dissuade the DFA board from a decision made last weekend to join the draft Warren movement being primarily spearheaded by MoveOn.org.
DFA, now chaired by Howard Dean’s brother, Jim Dean, will have a priority of “ensuring that the battle for the Democratic nomination is a contest, not a coronation,” said DFA executive director Charles Chamberlain. “Our members clearly agree with that priority, which is why we’re planning to work on drafting Warren into the pPresidential race and aren’t ready to follow the governor’s lead in making an early endorsement of Clinton.”
Sroka said Howard Dean actually wrote the op-ed backing Clinton last week but it was not published by Politico until today, a day after DFA announced its support for the draft Warren movement.
“And,” said Sroka, “Howard Dean has been saying for about six months” that he would back Clinton for President.
Sroka said Howard Dean “knew we were going to” back the draft Warren effort, “and he had no problem with it, but he took a different path.
“This effort is really about Elizabeth Warren. It’s a pro-Warren movement, not against any other potential candidate,” Sroka said.
And, said Sroka, Howard Dean “has consistently said he believes that a primary is going to happen in the Democratic Party and he believes that a primary would be a good thing for the party. He felt that way in 2007 and 2008,” when he was chairman of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton and Barack Obama battled in a tough nomination contest. Dean himself was involved in a presidential nomination battle in 2003 and 2004, when John Kerry won the party’s nomination.
In his op-ed in Politico magazine, Dean calls Clinton “by far the most qualified person in the United States to serve as President.” And he called her “one of the most conscientious and competent people I have ever met.”
MoveOn, meanwhile, officially began its draft Warren campaign after announcing that a poll of its members resulted in 81 percent supporting the initiative.
The group released a web video and a web site, and began posting digital ads on some web sites. And, as the New Hampshire Journal reported on Tuesday, MoveOn said the campaign will have offices and staff in New Hampshire and Iowa.
“MoveOn members have spoken clearly, and we are today throwing our full weight behind this Run Warren Run campaign to show Senator Warren she has the support of millions of Americans across the country,” said Ilya Sheyman, executive director of MoveOn.org Political Action. “We are at a crucial time in our nation’s history, with income inequality higher than it’s been since the 1920s and with a playing field increasingly skewed in favor of Wall Street banks and corporate lobbyists. Senator Warren’s fearlessness in standing up to corporate interests and fighting for the middle class and working families is exactly what we need in the presidential race.”
MoveOn said it will invest at least $1 million in the first phase of the launch.