Washington Prowler

Howard the Magician

DNC chairman Dean thinks he has Bill Clinton in his corner.

By 4.3.06

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It appears that Democrat National Committee chairman Howard Dean has put his critics in a corner. Last week, Dean is said by DNC sources to have met with House and Senate Democrat leaders, including Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, as well as Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the last two being the key congressional campaign recruiters for Dems.

Dean opened the meeting by announcing that he had gained former President Bill Clinton's support, and that the former president would be top-lining a DNC event in mid-April.

Dean's gloating came after several meetings at which Reid, Schumer, and Emanuel had ridiculed Dean for what they saw as profligate spending by the party for state-based programs that Dean claimed were critical to the party's future success. The party has raised more money under Dean recently, but has been spending it as fast as it has been coming in.

Reid has been particularly critical, in demanding that Dean transfer millions of party money to the Senate Democrat campaign committee. Reid believes that the Republican National Committee will be transferring as much as $40 million of its war chest to the Republican Senate campaign committee, wiping out any cash advantage Schumer has built up in the past year.

Dean has thus far refused to make any such commitment to Schumer or Emanuel.

To buttress his point, Dean quietly flew up to New York and met with Clinton to discuss his DNC troubles and seek his support. "Dean made it clear that any support Clinton could give him would pay off two-fold," says a DNC source. "First, it was an opportunity to re-engage in the national party operations. Second, it would help with whatever he [Clinton] or Senator [Hillary] Clinton wanted to do down the road."

Clinton, according to sources, remains dubious of Dean's national agenda for the DNC, but likes his commitment to buildup state operations, something Clinton believes the party has failed to do in the past eight years.

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