Morning Read: In Iowa, Howard Dean Says He's... Backing Hillary | Off Message

Morning Read: In Iowa, Howard Dean Says He's... Backing Hillary

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As we noted last week (quoting the great Chris Cillizza), "No politician goes to Iowa by accident." The same generally holds true for New Hampshire — unless you're already in Vermont and you really, really need to get to Boston.

So former governor Howard Dean's trip to Iowa Wednesday and his plans to visit New Hampshire next month have gotten bored, horse-race-loving political types (I admit it! I'm one of them!) into a tizzy.

Of course, the less-often-stated corollary to the Cillizza maxim is this: "Most politicians who go to Iowa just want people to think they'll run for president." In our view, Dean falls squarely in that camp. Dude's looking for some press coverage — and he knows that's the way to get it (see: this blog post). 

Even while in Iowa, Dean managed to pop his own trial balloon, indicating in video used in a WCAX report that he'll support former secretary of state Hillary Clinton if she runs:

"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 just yet," Dean said.

The former gov was a little more definitive with the Des Moines Register:

“At this point, I’m supporting Hillary Clinton,” Dean, a former Vermont governor and 2004 presidential candidate, told the Des Moines Register in a brief interview in Iowa today.

Asked if he’s definitively ruling out a White House bid, Dean climbed into a waiting car and said with a grin, “Ahhgh, we’re done here. Thank you.”

Ahhgh, indeed!

Dean's best chance to make waves in a presidential race is if Clinton runs and clears the field of most other serious contenders (with the exception of Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who seems likely to run one way or another). Dean could then try to stake out a position to the left of Clinton, representing the, ahem, "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party."

If Clinton doesn't run, all bets are off, and most of the party's ambitious young pols will give it a whirl. Dean would quickly get lost in the mix. He'd be yesterday's — actually, 2004's — news.

By essentially endorsing Hillary Clinton Wednesday, Dean confirmed what anybody with half a brain already knows: Dean's simply not running. Which is a bummer, because another Dean bid would be pretty fun to watch.

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