The Wisconsin Primary

February 18, 2004

Diane Rehm (host): Thanks for joining us. I’m Diane Rehm. With the Wisconsin primary behind them, the remaining Democratic candidates are gearing up for primaries in ten states on March 2nd. So-called “Super Tuesday” may become the closing chapter in the race. Senator John Kerry seems poised to win, but Senator John Edwards remains a contender. Joining me in the studio to talk about yesterday’s results and what to look for over the next few weeks, Tom Mann of the Brookings Institution and Stuart Rothenberg. He’s editor and publisher of the Rothenberg Political Report. . . .

And, of course, we do have a report this morning that Howard Dean will end his campaign for the presidential nomination. He will “oversee a new effort to keep his issues alive and his supporters organized on behalf of Democratic causes.” . . . Let’s talk about how he transformed the Democratic Party, Tom.

Thomas E. Mann: Well, his contribution in 2003 was to give the party a spine implant. He sensed the intensity of opposition to the president on his tax cuts, on the war in Iraq, and he resonated that sentiment in a way that ultimately led all of the Democratic candidates for the presidential nomination to take a much tougher, much more aggressive stance. Now, that’s done; they have picked his pockets, taken his energy. The second thing that Howard Dean did was to figure out how to use the Internet to raise a lot of money, to attract volunteers. He didn’t figure out how to translate that into votes in primaries and caucuses. Nonetheless, it’s an enormous contribution and holds a prospect for Democrats, neutralizing a substantial Republican financial advantage. Now the trick is to see if the Democratic Party and the nominee, likely John Kerry, can, working with Howard Dean, capitalize on Dean’s fundraising success.

Listen to the entire interview.