Howard Dean drops out of DNC chairman race to avoid divisiveness

Howard Dean announced Friday that he was withdrawing from the race to succeed interim DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile. Appearing by video at a DNC forum in Denver, Dean said, “I think it could possibly be divisive. I have other priorities. I have a grandchild now. But I am fully dedicated to using as much time as I can to support whoever the chairman is.”

Shortly after his announcement, Dean appeared on MSNBC to discuss his decision. “I really feel strongly that our party needs to turn itself over to the next generation and I’m very happy to stay in the background and help coach whoever the chair is,” Dean said. He added, “I just think that one of the problems that we had in this election is that we’ve got to connect more with young people and that means not having faces like mine.”

Pressed on what had changed in his thinking from a few days ago when he was still in the race, Dean made the curious claim that he had made the decision weeks ago. “I made this decision two or three weeks ago,” Dean said. However, Dean only joined the race just over three weeks ago on November 11th, tweeting at the time:

Even if Dean made the decision two weeks ago that means a) he was only really in the race for 8 days and b) he waited two weeks to let anyone know he had decided to drop out. Something else must have happened here but Dean isn’t saying what that is.

Dean did expand on his point about divisiveness saying he wanted to avoid the race for chairman becoming a Hillary vs. Bernie proxy fight. “Once I was in I got a quick lay of the land, I think that I would have and could have won just because of what we were able to accomplish the last time I was chair,” Dean said. He added, “It became clear to me that, one, if we weren’t really careful this would be a Hillary versus Bernie proxy fight. I was for Hillary. Keith Ellison, who is one of the people who is running, was for Bernie. I didn’t want that fight.” Secondly, Dean said again he felt it was better to have young people running.

Dean said he might make an endorsement at some point but did not seem ready to endorse Ellison as the leading contender. On the contrary, Dean continued to maintain that whoever gets the job should be working at the DNC full time. That would obviously exclude Ellison who already has a full time job as a congressman. Here’s Dean’s appearance on MSNBC: