Vermont Governor Denies Plans to Run for President
By Thomas B. Edsall, Ceci Connolly and Howard Kurtz
Is he or isn't he? Word leaked out Friday that Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) plans to run for president in 2000, and even told Vice President Gore. But Dean, who is running for reelection next year, vehemently denied such reports.
"The only decision that I have made is that I am running for governor of the state of Vermont in 1998. I am focused on important issues facing our state right now," Dean said in a statement.
Dean, who is chairman of the Democratic Governors' Association, met with Gore on Wednesday in what Dean and his aides described as a courtesy session. "We had a very cordial conversation," Dean said. He dismissed reports suggesting the meeting was a political confrontation in which the Vermont governor told Gore that he plans to challenge him in the Democratic primaries.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that "Gore got new trouble when Vermont Gov. Dean said he will seek the 2000 Democratic nomination." Dean denounced the item: "The Wall Street Journal report characterizing that meeting is absolutely, unequivocally false."
Bob Rogan, Dean's deputy chief of staff, said his boss did not declare himself a candidate in his conversation with Gore. Rogan would not say whether Dean and Gore discussed the presidential contest. Other sources suggested Dean clearly let it be known he was considering a bid.
In his dealings with the Vermont press corps, Dean, who for the time being anyway wants the focus on his reelection, has become irritated with persistent questions concerning his presidential ambitions. At a news conference last Tuesday, the day before he met with Gore, Dean said he was tired of answering questions about his possible presidential bid and ended the conference.
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