Barbara Walters Pesters Howard Dean: End Dem Race

On a day when Senator Barack Obama's controversial pastor would be speaking to the National Press Club in Washington, "Good Morning America" guest host Barbara Walters chose to question DNC Chairman Howard exclusively on how soon the Democratic presidential contest can be ended. At one point during Monday's segment, she even hectored Dean about his responsibility to bring unity to the Democrats. [audio available here]

Walters lectured, "But that's also your job, Dr. Dean, to get one of them to say in order to fight John McCain, in order to really win this election, one of you has got to back down and be gracious. Is that a big part of your job?" To get an idea of the overriding subject that appeared to be occupying the ABC journalist's mind, here is a sampling of her worried questions to the Democratic National Committee chairman:

BARBARA WALTERS: Well, you have said that the super delegates should make their choice known by the end of June. How is that going to happen?

WALTERS: And if [super delegates] already know pretty much who they're for, why wait till the end of June? Why keep this going on and on and on?

WALTERS: Can you make sure that the super delegates are indeed going to choose their candidate? Do you have that kind of muscle?

WALTERS: If Hillary Clinton loses in Indiana, give me your opinion. Should she get out of the race?

Clearly, Democratic unity is paramount to Walters, who was filling in for GMA co-host Diane Sawyer. But, shouldn't issues such as the return of Jeremiah Wright to the public scene warrant at least a single question? Granted, ABC correspondent Jake Tapper mentioned Wright in a previous segment, but Walters, who regularly co-hosts "The View," was talking to the head of the DNC. It would seem like an opportune time to discuss the subject.

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:10am on April 28, follows:

NewsBusters.org | Screencap of Babara Walters from 4/28/2008 BARBARA WALTERS: So where does it end? Well, earlier this morning, I spoke with the man at the center of the Democratic Party, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. Good morning, Dr. Dean. Nice to have you with us.

DNC CHAIRMAN HOWARD DEAN: Good morning, Barbara. Thanks for having me on.

WALTERS: Pleasure. Well, you have said that the super delegates should make their choice known by the end of June. How is that going to happen?

DEAN: Well, as you know, there are about 800 unpledged delegates and about 4,000 or so pledged delegates. The pledged delegates are selected through the primaries and the primaries are over on June 3rd. We really can't have a divided convention. If we do it's going to be very hard to heal the party afterwards. We'll know who the nominee is 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.

WALTERS: Yes, but how are you going to get the super delegates necessarily to do that? And if they already know pretty much who they're for, why wait till the end of June? Why keep this going on and on and on?

DEAN: Well, I think they need time to make up their mind and many have made up their minds. I think we've had 50 or 60 make up their mind in the last, in the last few weeks. The only thing that can beat us is not being unified. That's the only reason the Democrats would lose in this election and I have got to make sure that doesn't happen.

WALTERS: Okay. Can you make sure that the super delegates are indeed going to choose their candidate? Do you have that kind of muscle?

DEAN: No. Nobody has the power to do that. The rules say they can make up their mind in August if they want to. But 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. None of the he so-called party elders that I talked to thought this should go to the convention and I agree with that.

WALTERS: Okay. You said that the most important person is the loser, whichever one that is, and you said that when you lost to John Kerry in 2004, you lobbied for three months to get your supporters to rally around Kerry. So you know both of these candidates and they're very strong-minded. Do you really think that one of them is going to say, that's okay, shake hand. Let's be friends?

DEAN: I had to do it and I consider myself to be pretty strong-minded. Look, this is not about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. This is about our country.

WALTERS: Yeah, but right now it is about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

DEAN: Well, in the long run, though, it isn't. The long run, it's about a better course for our country. We've had eight really, pretty awful years with huge deficits, wars, government misconduct. We don't need another four years of that. We've got to move on and win the presidency. That is the job that every American and including these two very important Americans has for our country.

WALTERS: But that's also your job, Dr. Dean, to get one of them to say in order to fight John McCain, in order to really win this election, one of you has got to back down and be gracious. Is that a big part of your job?

DEAN: Yeah, I don't think I'll have to say it. I think they'll know it. I knew it. I didn't have to have anybody tell me that. I knew what was right for the country. And I think these two folks are wonderful people in my view and I think they know what's right for the country.

WALTERS: One week from tomorrow voters in Indiana and North Carolina will have their say. If Hillary Clinton loses in Indiana, give me your opinion. Should she get out of the race?

DEAN: No, that is not my call. 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, 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.

WALTERS: Well, I know when to get out of an interview too so thank you, Dr. Dean. We appreciate you being with us.

DEAN: Barbara thanks an awful lot for having me on.

WALTERS: Okay. So I got out. As for should there be a debate? He says that's not my department.

ROBERTS: He has enough to worry about.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org