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Profile of Gov. Howard Dean, Former Democratic Party Chair

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Profile of Gov. Howard Dean, Former Democratic Party Chair

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Chair of the Democratic National Committee:

In February 2005, Howard Dean was elected Chair of the Democratic Party, a position he held until January 2009, when President Obama replaced him with Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia. Dean was then named "chairman emeritus" of the DNC.

As chair, Dean was lead strategist, spokesman and fundraiser for DNC. He is credited with pioneering an energetic 50-state strategy that successfully lifted Democrats from massive 2004 defeat to Congressional control in 2006 and 2008, and helped propel support for the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries.

2004 Presidential Candidate:

Howard Dean, Vermont governor from 1991 to 2002, became a leading 2004 presidential contender when he delivered a March 2003 speech criticizing Democrats for supporting the Iraq War. Dean was the first prominent Democrat to speak out forcefully against Bush's attack on Iraq.

Dean led Democrats in early 2004 fundraising campaign by generating $25 million in small donations over the internet. He is famously remembered for his enthusiastic yell on January 19, 2004 after losing the Iowa caucus vote. Dean ended his campaign on February 18, 2004, and endorsed John Kerry.

Fiscally Moderate, Socially Liberal:

Gov. Howard Dean governed as a fiscal moderate who always balanced Vermont's budget, and strongly believes in fiscal spending restraint. Dean is known for his outspoken opposition to the Iraq War.

He was the first governor to sign civil unions legislation into law. He supports abortion rights and embryonic stem research. As a longtime M.D., Dean has a nuanced view on healthcare insurance systems, but believes in guaranteed medical services for all.

Vermont Governor, 1991 to 2002:

Howard Dean is a licensed physician who joined his wife, Dr. Judy Steinberg, in a family practice from 1981 to 1991. Dean's political career started with a 1981 campaign to build a local bike path.

Dean was elected to Vermont legislature in 1982 and as Lt. Governor in 1986, both part-time positions. In 1991, while examining a patient, Dean got word that the Governor had died. Dean was elected to two five-year terms as governor, serving from 1991 to 2002.

Dean was the second longest serving Vermont governor in history.

Personal Data:

  • Birth - November 17, 1948 in East Hampton, New York
  • Education - B.A. in political science, 1971, Yale University, M.D. in 1978, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University, in New York City.
  • Family - Married since 1981 to Dr. Judith Steinberg, who he met while both were in medical school. Two adult children, Anne and Paul.
  • Faith - Christian, Congregationalist

Personal Notes:

Howard Dean was born to a wealthy and prominent New York family. As a Yale undergradute, he had a reputation as a "party animal." After graduation in 1971, he's on record as saying he spent the year skiing, washing dishes, pouring concrete and drinking beer.

A defining moment in Dean's life was in 1974 when his younger brother, Charles, a world traveler, was captured and killed by Laos guerillas. Dean he wore his brother's belt every day of his 2004 presidential campaign

Memorable Quotes:

"We've not had one Republican president in 34 years balance the budget. You can't trust right-wing Republicans with your money."

"This country was the moral leader of the world until George Bush became president."

"The State of the Union may look rosy from the White House balcony or the suites of George Bush's wealthiest donors. But hardworking Americans will see through this president's efforts to wrap his radical agenda with a compassionate ribbon."

"Every day it becomes clearer that this was the wrong war at the wrong time."

"I supported the war in Afghanistan because 3,000 of our people were murdered and I thought we had a right to defend the people of the United States."

"I've always been endorsed by the National Rifle Association."

"I think most people...would be very glad to pay the same taxes they paid when Bill Clinton was president, if only they could have the same economy they had when Bill Clinton was president."

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