Howard Dean: Tea Party "not playing with a full deck," might stay home in 2012

Is the Democratic Party strategy for 2012 wishful thinking? Howard Dean, who made the “Dean scream” infamous in January 2004 while imploding as a presidential candidate, says that the Tea Party isn’t “playing with a full deck,” and that the GOP might split if Mitt Romney wins the nomination:

HOWARD DEAN: I think Romney has a problem, though. He’s by far the best-known candidate in the race, and he’s at 17% in the polls. That’s not so good. If he gets the nomination, and I think the odds now are very heavily that he will, he’s got a big base problem. And usually that’s not a problem. Republicans are very disciplined, they’ll pull in behind him. Actually, even the Democrats pull in behind after a fight like this. This year you have the Tea Party. They are not playing with a full deck. I mean, they could go off the rails here. This is going to be really interesting. They might sit home, or vote for somebody else, or find a Libertarian, or Ron Paul might do something. Who knows.

Will a Romney nomination cause some dismay among Tea Party activists?  Sure, and it’s possible that a few would rather sit on their hands — if you ask them now.  By the summer of 2012, however, almost everyone in the Tea Party would look at the election as a choice between Romney and Obama, and even if they don’t particularly like Romney, they’re going to vote for him.  They aren’t going to vote Libertarian and put Obama back in the White House.  Even polls now show Romney getting enough traction to beat Obama, and that’s with viable alternatives still in the GOP field.

The clip goes on to cover a debate between Dean and former RNC chair Michael Steele about just how awesome the new Barack Obama is:

DEAN: The President is in full campaign mode. He is on fire. Look at the guy. I haven’t seen him put four weeks together like this. It’s unbelievable . . . This guy’s on fire.  He just needs to do this for another 13 weeks, 13 months, and we are in.

MICHAEL STEELE: Let’s put a little water on that fire: it’s called 9.1% unemployment and it’s called an economy that even the president’s economic advisers are publicly stating is not doing well. The president himself has said gee, you’re not better off today than you were four years ago.  So there’s a lot, there’s a lot of water out there that’s surrounding that flame.

DEAN: The Republicans are branded as obstructionists, and they do not care about ordinary people. That’s what the polls show —

STEELE: Excuse me. Howard, Howard, OK, that’s not what the polls show.

DEAN: Will Barack Obama fight for the middle class?  And if he does, he’s going to win.  And I think he’s going to win this election. You heard it here on Morning Joe!

STEELE: On its face, Howard, you are flatly wrong.

Jeez … all that’s missing is the Yeeeaaargh!  Obama’s not on fire, he’s burning out.  The American public has had almost a month of the New Obama, and his poll numbers are still dropping.  Democratic strategist Mark Penn tried explaining this to Chris Matthews and Michael Moore last night (via Radio Vice Online) — and corrected a common misperception on Clinton and tax hikes:

The only thing missing from Democratic fantasy elections are twelve-sided dice.

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