Howard Dean visit to Iowa prompts presidential speculation - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Howard Dean visit to Iowa prompts presidential speculation

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean focused on winning more Democratic seats in Congress Wednesday. But what Dean actually talked about at a labor convention in Iowa is not what's grabbing most headlines; it's WHERE the former presidential candidate was talking.

"No one just drops in on Iowa or New Hampshire right now," said Chris Graff, a political analyst. "So, by going to Iowa or New Hampshire or South Carolina, you're putting a big sign up there that says, 'Hey, I might run for president.'"

Former political journalist Chris Graff says it may be three years until the next presidential election, but the jockeying now is important. And Howard Dean is keeping the door open.

When Dean visited WCAX News in June, he told us you never close the door if you can influence the conversation.

"The last time I got into a race like this it was because the Democratic Party was failing to talk about the issues and what's important," Dean said in June. "If they don't talk about the issues, then I'll think about it."

Some of those issues-- women's rights, immigration reform-- and the focus of Wednesday's speech-- winning more seats for Democrats by reaching out to non-Democrats. Speaking to reporters In Iowa, Dean did not rule out a run, but said if Hillary's in, he's probably out.

"I'm likely to support her if she does, but I don't know what she's going to do. And I don't think she knows what she's going to do quite yet," Dean said.

Graff says when Dean first ran for president he could arrive in Iowa or New Hampshire practically unnoticed. But his temporary frontrunner status and his work since then allows him to grab the spotlight now. But it's that same experience that may keep him away from a second run.

"Howard Dean knows how brutal, how unbelievably hard it is to run for president. And so I doubt that he truly right now is thinking about running for president," Graff said. "He's thinking about using his moment in the sun to drive the agenda."

Dean's stop in New Hampshire is next month at the St. Anselm College Institute of Politics to give a speech on health care reform.

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