Dean: "We really can't have a divided convention"

Howard Dean says again that the Democratic presidential race must effectively end in June.

Published April 28, 2008 2:33PM (EDT)

As the leaders of the Democratic Party have stepped up their calls for the race for the party's nomination to come to an end -- Harry Reid is even thinking about writing a letter! -- Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean has been at the forefront of that movement. In an interview with Barbara Walters that was broadcast Monday moring, Dean was in some ways firmer than he'd been in the past.

"We really can't have a divided convention. If we do, it's going to be very hard to heal the party afterwards," Dean told Walters. "So we'll know who the nominee is [by the end of June], and that will give us an extra two and a half months to get our party together, heal the wounds of having a very closely divided race, and take on Senator McCain."

Dean did acknowledge that he can't force the superdelegates' hands ("Nobody has the power to do that. The rules say they can make up their mind in August if they want to," he said), but, he added, "there are a lot of Democrats -- myself included, Senator Reid, Speaker Pelosi and many, many others -- who understand that we want the voters to have their say -- that's over on June 3rd -- and then the unpledged delegates really have got to make up their mind."

Dean also intimated that he wants one of the candidates to, at some point, realize that he or she needs to get out of the race, but said it's not his job to force them to do that, and that when it's their time, they'll know. He harked back to his own experience running for president in 2004 when discussing that issue, saying, "I think these two folks are wonderful people, in my view, and I think they know what's right for the country ... I ran for president four years ago. Believe me: This is a deeply personal race where you run incredibly hard.

"Either of these candidates, if it's time for them to go, they'll know it, and they will go. They don't need pushing from people like me or anybody else, or the newspapers or anybody else. You know when to get in, and you know when to get out. That's just part of the deal."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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