Former Gov. Howard Dean is denying rumors that he's gearing up to challenge Pres. Barack Obama in the 2012 Democratic primary.
A widely-read political column posted on Politico today ("In 2010, could Dean beat Obama?" by Roger Simon) is raising new speculation that Dean, still a powerful voice among progressive Democrats, is laying the groundwork for a primary challenge.
Here's an excerpt from the column:
President Barack Obama sounded humble, almost meek, Wednesday at his news conference. “No one party will be able to dictate where we go from here,” he said. “We must find common ground.”
Howard Dean took a somewhat different tone on the phone with me the same day. “If Republicans think we’re going to slow the growth of Medicare and Medicaid and give tax cuts to those making a million dollars a year, we will wrap that around their necks and beat the hell out of them in 2012.”
Finding common ground with Republicans versus strangling and beating the hell out of Republicans — which one do you think an angry and dispirited Democratic Party might go for?
Both men were thinking about 2012, and Obama’s people have long been thinking — grimly — about Dean.
Some of the most influential members of Team Obama do not like or trust Dean and have long feared he would challenge Obama for the presidency if only given an opportunity.
So, is Dean trying to pressure Obama from the left as a way to possibly challenge Obama in 2012? Nope, says the former five-term governor.
"Neither. The reporter essentially re-arranged quotes and made this up. I am not running. Period," Dean told Seven Days via email.