MINNEAPOLIS — Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor and 2004 presidential candidate who helped spark the Netroots Nation conference being held here, told TPM that he would not continue the war in Libya without congressional authorization the way President Obama has.
But he declined to criticize Obama over his choice to continue the fighting without asking Congress to weigh in.
“I would,” Dean said when asked if he’d request the congressional war authorization the White House decided not to this week.
“But I’m not willing to go after Obama on that one,” Dean said.
He expressed support for the goals of the war, saying his support for it meant he wasn’t going to ding Obama over the authorization.
“I do think lives are being saved, I do think the British and the French are taking the lead,” Dean said. “So that’s not where I’m going to be going after Obama.”
As he has in the past, Dean criticized Obama for the thrust of his health care law (which Dean said should have been structured differently and included a public option) and for what he said were Obama’s hiring and messaging failures in the first two years of his presidency. Dean said Obama needed to choose more “outside voices” to run things like his economic policy to better live up to the promise of his campaign.
But Dean promised to “work my ass off” for Obama next year — and he gave the president a pass on Libya.
“There’s plenty of things that we can have disagreements on on but that’s — everyone picks their own things that they deeply care about,” Dean said. “And I care deeply about social justice in this country.”