The poor showing in Iowa hurt – a lot. The “I Have a Scream” speech afterward did not help. The comeback in New Hampshire fell a bit short, but wasn’t all bad. Firing his campaign manager sent a bad signal but was not highly unusual.
Even at that point I could still see Howard Dean having a chance at winning the Democratic presidential nomination. But running out of money after starting the year with more than $40 million in the bank – more than any other candidate?? That’s the part I can’t get past. No TV ads in the next seven primary states?!? Campaign staffers told to work for free for the next several weeks?!? What happened? Where did all the money go?
I see Bush as being vulnerable in three key areas:
1. The decision to invade Iraq when there were no weapons of mass destruction.
2. The slow pace of the recovery and the 2 million lost jobs.
3. The fiscal irresponsibility that turned a huge budget surplus into record breaking deficits.
Dean has been effective in attacking Bush on the first two points. But if he can’t keep his own campaign operation afloat financially he will have a hard time pressing Bush on the third point.
More and more Dean is beginning to resemble one of those Internet-based tech start-ups that came out of nowhere during the tech boom only to go out of business after the bubble burst. The Democratic primary voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, like wary investors, decided to put their money into a safe blue chip stock, represented by Sen. John Kerry, rather than a risky dotcom like Howard Dean. Now the Dean campaign is running out of capital and unless things turn around quickly the next stop is bankruptcy.