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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Dean TV Ad: Rewriting His Own History

His ad says he's against $87 billion for Iraq, but in September he said 'we have no choice' but to approve it.


In a TV ad that began airing in Iowa on November 17, Howard Dean looks straight at the camera and says “I’m against spending another $87 billion” in Iraq. But in fact, Dean has previously expressed conditional support for the $87 billion, not opposition. In a September debate – when pressed for a yes-or-no answer on the $87 billion package for military operations and reconstruction – he said he supported it but that it should be financed by repeal of President Bush’s tax cuts. Dean’s “support” in September turned to “against” in the TV ad.  Dean’s ad misleads by oversimplifying his record on this issue.


The ad is called “different view,” and is aimed at knocking out Gephardt’s chances of winning Iowa. It accurately reminds viewers that Gephardt voted both to give George Bush the authority to wage war in Iraq, and also for the $87-billion postwar reconstruction package. Then Dean comes on camera and says: “I opposed the war in Iraq. And I’m against spending another $87 billion there.”

Text of Dean Ad:
“Different View”

Announcer: October, 2002. Dick Gephardt agrees to co-author the Iraq war resolution—giving George Bush the authority to go to war.

A week later, with Gephardt’s support, it passes Congress.

Then last month, Dick Gephardt votes to spend 87 billion dollars more on Iraq .

Howard Dean has a different view.

Dean: I opposed the war in Iraq. And I’m against spending another 87 billion dollars there.

I’m Howard Dean. And I approved this message because our party and our country need new leadership.

That’s not exactly what Dean has said in the past, however:

September 25:  In a debate among Democratic presidential candidates, Dean said there’s “no choice” but to support the $87 billion:

Question: Can we please tonight have your vote, up or down, yes or no? And if yes, how do you pay for $87 billion?  …

Dean: I believe the $87 billion ought to come from the excessive and extraordinary tax cuts that this president foisted upon us, that mainly went to people like Ken Lay who ran Enron…

So I believe not only should we get rid of the $87 billion worth of tax cuts to pay to support our troops–even though I did not support the war in the beginning, I think we have to support our troops–I also believe we ought to get rid of the entire Bush tax cut. It is bad for the economy and it has not created one job.

Q: Is that an up or down, yes or no, on the $87 billion per se?

Dean: On the $87 billion for Iraq  ?

Q: Yes.

Dean: We have no choice, but it has to be financed by getting rid of all the president’s tax cuts.

And since then Dean has gone back and forth on the issue:

October 9: The New York Times quoted him as refusing to say how he would vote on the $87 billion financing proposal if he were in Congress.

“I’m not running for Congress, I’m running for president,” the Times quoted Dean as saying.

October 15: The Associated Press quoted Dean as saying he would oppose the $87 billion, unless Bush repeals some tax cuts to pay for it.

“We should support our troops,” the AP quoted Dean as saying. “If the president doesn’t have a sufficient commitment to this operation to get rid of the $87 billion in tax cuts, then we should vote no.”

October 17 (hours after Congress approved the $87 billion):    Dean said on Iowa Public Television that “we cannot cut and run” — and that he would have voted for the money if financed by repeal of tax cuts.

Dean: All I ask is that the President of the United States  tell us how he’s going to get the money to pay for this $87 billion. I believe he ought to repeal those tax cuts in order to pay for it. I have said that I would vote for the 87 billion if I were in the Senate if he repealed the tax cuts.

Q: to clarify your position, your position is you would have voted for that $87 billion in funding had he financed it —

Dean: that’s right. We cannot cut and run from Iraq . I’ve repeatedly said that. I think it was a terrible mistake to go there in the first place, which differentiates me from all the other folks. But now that we’re there, we can’t just leave the place because if Al Qaeda moves in — and I think there’s more there now than when Saddam was attacked — or if there’s a fundamentalist Shiite regime that moves in or sets up, then we really have a national security problem for the United States where we didn’t have one before.



Watch Dean Ad: “Different View”


Supporting Documents

View Text of Democratic Candidates Debate Sept. 25 2003, in which Dean said “we have no choice” but to approve $87 billion Iraq package


Democratic Candidates Debate, CNBC, New York, 25 Sept. 2003.

Jodi Wilgoren, “Dean Says President Bush Is Setting the Stage for the’Failure of America’,” The New York Times, 9 Oct. 2003: A24.

Nedra Pickler, “Democratic Presidential Candidates Split on Iraq Reconstruction Vote,” The Associated Press, 15 Oct. 2003.

Iowa Press, Iowa Public Television, Johnston, IA, 17 Oct. 2003.