Though he sent out an 11th-hour fundraising plea to supporters last week saying his presidential bid would end if he didn't win in Wisconsin on Feb. 17, Howard Dean won't be leaving the campaign trail anytime soon. At least, that's what he told the New York Times this afternoon, marking yet another shift in his campaign outlook:
"Reversing his statement that he would get out of the race if he failed to win Wisconsin's primary, Howard Dean said today that 'it's not going to be the end of the line' and that 'we're going to find a way to stay in one way or the other.'"
According to the Times, Dean further declared "we're in it for the long haul," while acknowledging that his latest swerve in sentiment was an "obvious contradiction" to last week's fundraising email pitch. He blamed the media for counting him out of the race -- and the Deaniacs for keeping him in: "'There's too many people who've come up to me and said whatever you do, don't drop out,'" Dean said, according to the Times. "'I don't know. I don't know what's going to happen in Wisconsin, but we're going to find a way to stay in one way or the other.'"
What might he be thinking? Notwithstanding the $40 million his campaign has already burned through, most analysts give Dean little chance to win the nomination at this point. Perhaps he's hoping to reignite a fiery display of grassroots support -- his throng of die-hard backers just won't let him drop out -- in order to boost his prospects for the vice presidential slot. But even that seems far-fetched given the degree to which Dean has laid into John Kerry for, in his view, pandering to Washington lobbyists and maintaining a Senate voting record barely distinguishable from the Bush agenda itself. In any case, it appears Dean will stick with the Energizer-Bunny promise he made after New Hampshire -- for now.