By Suzanne Freeman
Monday, December 15Howard Dean built his increasingly popular campaign for President on a growing antiwar sentiment. As violence increased in Iraq, Dean's popularity in opinion polls began to grow. So, how will the capture of Saddam Hussein on December 13 affect his campaign for the democratic nomination for President?
If Dean wins the nomination, it could weaken his candidacy against President George W. Bush, say some of his Democratic opponents.
"I think that this is a time that underscores that if we're going to beat George Bush, we need somebody who has the experience, and who got this policy right," said John Kerry. As a Senator from Massachusetts, Kerry voted to send U.S. troops to the Middle East.
Using the Internet and his opposition to the war, Dean has raised the most money and gained the most momentum in a tough battle with nine contestants. Campaign watchers in the media have named Dean the man to beat for the nomination. His opponents now think that will be much easier to do.
"If Howard Dean had his way, Saddam Hussein would be in power today, not in prison, and the world would be a much more dangerous place," said Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut Senator and presidential candidate. Lieberman suffered a blow from the Dean campaign just days before Hussein's capture when former Vice President Al Gore announced his endorsement of Dean. Lieberman was Gore's vice-presidential candidate in the 2000 election.
Campaigning in Florida yesterday, Dean showed no signs of backing down from his opposition to the war or of Bush's handling of it. Dean has often chided the President in his speeches for not having captured Hussein.
"I congratulate our troops on capturing Saddam Hussein," Dean said. "He's a bad person and we're all better off with him in captivity, but you should know that my views on Iraq have not changed one bit."
Kerry and North Carolina Senator John Edwards joined Dean in calling on the U.S. to use this opportunity to involve the international community in rebuilding Iraq.
"It was great news for the Iraqi people, the world, and the United States that Saddam Hussein was captured," Edwards said in a speech yesterday in Iowa, where primary caucuses will be held on January 19. "But that alone is no substitute for a comprehensive strategy to deal with the world's most dangerous weapons, no matter how welcome the news."