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Dean Aims to Plug ‘Hole’ in Resume

Times Staff Writer

Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, who has been vigorously defending himself against charges that he lacks the foreign policy experience needed to be president, said Sunday he would want a vice president with such a background.

“I need to plug that hole on the resume, and I’m going to do that with my running mate,” Dean said.

Dean’s comments came on the same day that a rival in the Democratic race, retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark, said that the former Vermont governor had asked him to be his running mate earlier this year.

Clark, appearing on ABC News’ “This Week,” said Dean “did offer me the vice presidency. And what I told him was, that’s not the issue.”

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The two met in early September, shortly before Clark decided to seek the presidential nomination.

Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi, who also appeared on the ABC news show, disputed Clark’s comments. “That never came up” in the meeting, Trippi said.

Dean’s remarks Sunday about the qualities he’d look for in a running mate came in response to an audience question during a town hall meeting in Litchfield.

He initially demurred, noting that not a single vote had been cast in the nomination race.

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“We have done absolutely no work on a running mate,” Dean said. "... It would be presumptuous to do any kind of work or any reaching out or any of that kind of stuff.”

But Dean added: “There are some criteria everybody ought to have.” The first, he said, would be whether the vice president would be able to serve as president.

“The second criteria is, I’m going to pick somebody with defense and foreign policy experience,” he said. "... The fact is, it’s a resume problem.”

Several of the other Democratic presidential contenders have attacked Dean for lacking experience in foreign policy following his response to the capture of Saddam Hussein this month. Dean praised the seizure of the former Iraqi dictator, but said it had not made America any safer from terrorism.

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Many Democratic leaders have speculated that Clark, if his quest for the presidential nomination falls short, would be an attractive vice presidential possibility, particularly if Dean wins the nod.

But publicly and privately, Clark has discouraged talk that he would be interested in the No. 2 position. Also, his relations with Dean have cooled; Clark, for instance, has been among those disparaging the depth of Dean’s knowledge of foreign policy.

As the conflicts between the two increase, the odds of them sharing a ticket decline. On Sunday, Clark said of serving as Dean’s running mate: “I don’t see that in the cards.”

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Times staff writer Ronald Brownstein contributed to this report.


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