When I heard that Gov. Howard Dean had suggested a possible 2016 run at Netroots Nation, I was a little surprised, since I was sitting right in front during his speech at the opening keynote session last night and was ready to tell you it was wishful thinking. I'm glad I didn't do that, because he definitely did tease CNN reporters with that possibility during an interview Thursday:
Dean, whose underdog presidential campaign officially launched 10 years ago this weekend, said he has "mixed feelings" about running for office again but added he would consider another bid for the Democratic presidential nomination if he doesn't think the other candidates are adequately addressing progressive issues that are dear to his heart.
"I am not driven by my own ambition," Dean told CNN in an interview at the Netroots Nation conference, an annual gathering of left-leaning political activists. "What I am driven by is pushing the country in a direction that it desperately needs to be pushed; pushing other politicians who aren't quite as frank as I am who need to be more candid with the American people about what needs to happen. I am not trying to hedge, it's a hard job running. It's really tough. I am doing a lot of things I really enjoy. But you should never say never in this business."
"If you had to put a gun to my head and make me decide right now, I wouldn't," said Dean, who became chairman of the Democratic National Committee after failing to win his party's nomination in 2004. "But who knows?"
He made clear, though, that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the undisputed frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, will not run unchallenged if she, too, decides to make a second White House run.
"She is not going to have a pass," Dean said. "There will be other people who will run."
During his speech at Netroots Nation, Dean reflected back on the changes since he originally declared his intention to run for President in 2003, pointing to the progress made just in ten years' time. Dean lauded the netroots for their transformative action in the electoral process and in pushing legislators toward progress. While he didn't hint at anything during his speech, he has had a high profile here throughout the week and would need to rely heavily on netroots support to launch another bid for the nomination.
I hope we have a primary season that's competitive and interesting with lots of different candidates, but I also hope we don't forget about 2014 while looking to 2016.