POLITICS
06/19/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Howard Dean Rips Into "Sleazy" John McCain (VIDEO)

Howard Dean made an appearance on this morning's Morning Joe, where he tore into GOP nominee John McCain for the "sleazy" style of campaign he was running, telling host Joe Scarborough, "the John McCain of 2000 would not vote for this John McCain."

Given the opportunity, Dean covered a lot of ground in discussion, waxing reflective as well as going on the offensive against McCain. He praised both Democratic candidates, saying that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were sure "to leave a lasting imprint." Dean also took the opportunity to criticize the media for coverage that frequently left him "surprised and taken aback," saying, "There were some things that were said that were really appalling that had they been said in the context of race...people would be fired."

And, when asked about how his party would win back the support of disaffected Clinton supporters, Dean, who typically gets painted as emotionally distant, revealed an empathetic side:

But I think I lost one of these races as you remember four years ago and it takes a while to heal. It takes -- it took me three or four weeks as a human being to get back to where I needed to be and it takes the followers longer than that. Because this is something people invest a lot in. It's tough when your candidate doesn't win, especially when you feel like your candidate has been treated in a way that personally insults you as a voter and I think some of the comments about Senator Clinton did do that.

But Dean saved his sharpest remarks for John McCain. Reacting to a question on Obama Veep vetter Jim Johnson, Dean quickly drew distinctions between Obama's use of Johnson and McCain's embrace of lobbyists, calling the McCain campaign "sleazy":

DEAN: John McCain's campaign is being run by lobbyists. He has lobbyists crawling out of every corner of his campaign. They donate money to him. Barack Obama doesn't take money from lobbyists. Jim Johnson is a capable guy, he has been vetting vice presidents for a while but not on the campaign payroll. He's a volunteer. He doesn't -- not allowed to donate money if he's a lobbyist. John McCain is running a campaign that is, you know, frankly pretty sleazy.

SCARBOROUGH: It says -- are you saying this The Washington Post article is planted by John McCain?

DEAN: Yeah, that's exactly right. I suspect the McCain people called up the Post which is what both sides do and got the reporter to write an interesting article about this stuff. The truth is Barack Obama hasn't taken any money from lobbyists, doesn't take money from special interests and John McCain does. Not only that, John McCain did have people on his payroll, or did have until recently, who are interest special interest people. I got a chuckle out of it.

[WATCH]

SCARBOROUGH: You caught a lot of flak, incoming throughout this process. You should have stepped in earlier, you should have broken arms, you should have done this, you should have done that, you should have cured cancer, you should have alleviated chicken weed in backyards. Now that it's all over, do you think it ran its course and did so in a way that it will help the Democratic party in the fall?

DEAN: Well, I do. I think having 50 primaries all of which mattered made a difference. I think having two fantastic candidates makes the party stronger. The sad part is one of them had to lose which happens in politics but they are both terrific candidates and both are going to leave a lasting imprint and Senator Obama is going to be a great president.

SCARBOROUGH: There's a headline: Hillary's ghost hangs over Obama's unity event. There are some Democrats who say Hillary was not treated fair by the party or by the process. What would you say to those critics?

DEAN: I think there was certainly some sexism, particularly in the coverage. I was a little surprised and taken aback by the kind of language that was used on television, particularly about Senator Clinton's candidacy which I thought was wrong and I think we do need to have a discussion about that as we go along. But the fact is this is the longest and most successful and the most participatory primary season that we've ever had in this party and I think it will serve us well in the fall. We need to win, we need real change. I saw Senator mcclain's clip at the top of the hour, you know, the John McCain of 2000 would not vote for this John McCain. We don't need another four years of George Bush. What is he proposing is four more years of George Bush's economic policy and it's ridiculous and it's unfair to the American people.

SCARBOROUGH: We read a lot of articles suggesting that women who supported Hillary Clinton are so angry they may actually support John McCain. What would you say to those --

DEAN: I've talked to an awful lot of people. I think the vast majority of the people will support Barack Obama. And there are people who are very angry. I think Senator Clinton, you know, politics is rough and tumble and everybody expects to be treated roughly in politics. But there were some things that were really appalling, that if they had been said in the context of race the talk show people would be fired for saying it and I think that is a double standard and people have a right to be angry about it and he the question now is what are we going to do about it? I think clearly reaching out to women by talking about the things that matter: the economy, which disproportionately affects women, particularly single women raising kids, is a huge issue. The war in Iraq is a huge issue. The future Supreme Court appointments that Senator McCain would make are a huge issue, so we've got some fence mending to do. But I think I lost one of these races as you remember four years ago and it takes a while to heal. It takes -- it took me three or four weeks as a human being to get back to where I needed to be and it takes the followers longer than that. Because this is something people invest a lot in. It's tough when your candidate doesn't win, especially when you feel like your candidate has been treated in a way that personally insults you as a voter and I think some of the comments about Senator Clinton did do that.

SCARBOROUGH: Have you talked to Senator Clinton since she has been out of the race and said, hey, been there, done that, it hurts like hell?

DEAN: No. We traded phone calls and we will talk. She actually very kindly called me back from her vacation which I was astonished by but we haven't connected yet but we will, though. Senator Clinton and I go back a long way to her health care task force which I was very proud to be part of so I consider that to be a strong friendship and a good friendship.

BRZEZINSKI: I'm looking at the front page of The Washington Post. Questions being raised about Barack Obama's help to choose a running mate. I guess James Johnson is under fire for involvement in the mortgage crisis.

SCARBOROUGH: Mortgage crisis, yeah.

BRZEZINSKI: Does this help or hurt or turn the image of running a good campaign and choice selection?

DEAN: I got a laugh when I saw that headline. John McCain's campaign is being run by lobbyists. He has lobbyists crawling out of every corner of his campaign. They donate money to him. Barack Obama doesn't take money from lobbyists. Jim Johnson is a capable guy, he has been vetting vice presidents for a while but not on the campaign payroll. He's a volunteer. He doesn't -- not allowed to donate money if he's a lobbyist. John McCain is running a campaign that is, you know, frankly pretty sleazy.

SCARBOROUGH: It says -- are you saying this The Washington Post article is planted by John McCain?

DEAN: Yeah, that's exactly right. I suspect the McCain people called up the Post which is what both sides do and got the reporter to write an interesting article about this stuff. The truth is Barack Obama hasn't taken any money from lobbyists, doesn't take money from special interests and John McCain does. Not only that, John McCain did have people on his payroll, or did have until recently, who are interest special interest people. I got a chuckle out of it. It's trench warfare is part of the deal and silly article considering --

SCARBOROUGH: People will say, Mr. Chairman, that Barack Obama doesn't show the best of judgment putting -- making one of his first key appointments, a guy that was involved in the mortgage crisis.

DEAN: He is not a key appointment. He is a guy who is doing a volunteer job which as he did for John Kerry and did for Walter Mondale. This is nothing today with special influence and interests in the campaign. Unlike Senator McCain who just, despite his talk about energy, I saw his interview on NBC news this morning about energy. His party killed the energy bill yesterday. It's a silly article but you get silly articles from time to time in politics.