Washington Presidential candidate Howard Dean is surging in fund raising and winning over supporters, but leading centrist Democrats still have reservations about the viability of his candidacy.
"Dean has certainly created a lot of excitement and has hooked on to what is the hot-button issue," said Al From, founder and chief executive of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. "His anti-war stance has helped him an awful lot. The enthusiasm is real. But in the long run, the Democratic Party will not elect a president who has not crossed a security threshold."
Dean has vaulted to the top tier among the nine Democratic candidates, raising $7.5 million in the second quarter of fund raising and gaining thousands of followers through the Internet. His staunch opposition to the U.S.-led war against Iraq does not go over well with centrist Democrats, however, whose leaders circulated a memo in May that suggested Democrats could lose badly in 2004 if the former Vermont governor were their candidate.
On the eve of a Democratic Leadership Council summer meeting in Philadelphia, From said it was essential that the Democrats have a nominee strong on national security to compete with President Bush.
The Democratic Leadership Council decided against inviting the nine candidates to its meeting today and Monday.
The DLC instead will feature governors who won in conservative or swing states, including New Mexico's Bill Richardson, Janet Napolitano of Arizona, Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, Jim McGreevey of New Jersey, Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Mark Warner of Virginia.