What doomed Dean was not that night in West Des Moines when he tried to lift up a downtrodden crowd. Rather, as he told “Candidate Confessional,” it was his own political limitations as an outsider candidate, and his inability to stop playing to his crowds and start playing to the party’s mainstream.
I knew I had to make the turn. And I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t do it.
Howard Dean on his 2004 campaign
“I was giving them something they deeply valued, which was hope. And to pull back and become the establishment figure that I knew I had to become to become president was really hard to do because I had to teach them an incredibly unpleasant lesson, which is people like me don’t win presidencies behaving like that,” Dean said. “I knew I had to make the turn. And I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t do it.”