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Supporters defend Dean’s Iowa antics

It remains unclear the exact ramifications Howard Dean’s “Iowa yell” will have on his campaign following his loss in Iowa Monday. Some are predicting the doctor from Vermont’s chances at securing the Democratic nomination all but dead.

But Wednesday night in the cozy confines of the Magnolia Room in the Magnolia Apartment complex, a few Dean supporters maintained an approach less alarmist and more hopeful.

“Bulls for Dean,” a group made up of about 25 students on campus, met to distribute information about their candidate and try to drum up some last-minute support for the primary in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

But Dean’s off-beat comments following the Iowa loss did not go unmentioned.

In fact, for a group that has followed Dean’s campaign closely for the last few months, it would be near impossible not to address it. What some are calling Dean’s fatal faux-pas, is being hailed as a dose of heartfelt emotion that will serve only to garner him more votes by students at Wednesday night’s meeting.

“Pundits are always trying to paint Howard Dean as an angry liberal,” freshman Cody Jacobs said, adding that Al Gore was treated the same way during his 2000 presidential bid when some accused him of being a liar. “But Howard Dean is not that kind of polished Washington politician. He does what he feels.”

Said group president Helen Pflugh: “He doesn’t put on a face like everyone else does.”

Unfortunately for Dean and his supporters, much of the media hasn’t shared their optimism regarding Dean’s speech.

“Not only are we going to New Hampshire … we’re going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we’re going to California and Texas and New York,” Dean told supporters Monday night. “And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan. And then we’re going to Washington, D.C. to take back the White House. YEAHHHH!!!”

Here is a sampling of some of what has been said in recent days:

“Today the speech everybody was talking about here, Republicans and Democrats, was that speech that Dean made last night, and whether it was reaction from Republicans or Democrats, it was the same: bizarre, eerie, weird, odd. No one could really explain it. Some could not believe it, but the consensus was that Dean may have really hurt himself. Over at the White House, they wouldn’t say anything about it. One Republican told me, ‘We just don’t need to.'”

— Bob Scheiffer on CBS Evening News on Tuesday

“For those who didn’t see it, the good doctor got a little wild-eyed and started shouting ‘we will go on’ to various places, ending with the White House and then emitting what appeared to be a painful, primal scream. This was political history in the making, right there on television.”

— Washington Post columnist Al Kamen in Wednesday’s edition

“You’ve heard of mad cow disease? This was mad candidate disease.”

— Democratic political strategist Garry South, an adviser to Sen. Joe Lieberman, quoted in Wednesday’s San Francisco Chronicle

“Let me tell you something — hey, believe me, I’m no pundit. I’m no expert in politics, but I think it’s a bad sign when your speech ends with your aide shooting you with a tranquilizer gun.”

— Jay Leno on The Tonight Show on Tuesday

Back at USF, Dean supporter Chris Martinez is taking the implications of Iowa with a grain of salt.

“Iowa was a gut-punch, but what it actually has done is made the Florida primary that much more important,” he said. “Now it’s a four-way race, it’s much tighter, and (Floridians) may have a big say in what happens.”

Junior supporter Josh Chou shares the same optimism for the former Vermont governor. He believes Dean brings a charisma that has long been absent from politics.

“I truly believe, in all my heart, we’re going to have the last laugh on this one,” he said.

News transcripts from the Bulletin News Network were used to compile this report