Howard Dean, finally bowing to reality and 17 straight primary losses, will announce his withdrawal from the presidential campaign today or tomorrow:
Howard Dean will end his campaign for the presidential nomination and launch a new “campaign for change” within the Democratic Party to keep his issues alive and his supporters organized, a key campaign aide said Wednesday.
The former Vermont governor, who went winless in 17 caucuses and primaries after falling from leading contender early in the year, does not intend to endorse either John Kerry or John Edwards, the aide said on condition of anonymity. Dean has been impressed with Edwards and suggested on the campaign trail that he would make a better nominee, but Dean has decided to stay out of the Kerry-Edwards contest, the aide said.
This makes sense of his remarks last night after losing badly in Wisconsin. At the time, I thought he sounded eulogistic as he talked about the many accomplishments of his campaign, at least in his opinion, and the need for continuous change in the political process. He will probably convert his organization into a 527, pushing the agenda rather than his specific candidacy. This way he can keep his base from straying out of the Democratic Party and into the Greens or independents-based organizations. That is, he will if the Democrats are smart enough to embrace him now that he no longer threatens to take over the party — and I suspect they’ll be interested in harnessing Dean.
The biggest loser, aside from Dean, has to be the suddenly-radical Al Gore. Gore went out of his way to elbow aside Lieberman and endorse the maverick, if somewhat unstable and inconsistent, Dean. Since then, Gore has become exponentially more strident and less in control of himself in trying to emulate the passion that came a little more naturally to Dean. I’d be surprised if Gore is invited to participate in any meaningful way at the Dem convention in July; I think they’d prefer not to be foaming at the mouth.