Saturday, December 27, 2003

Ousider Dean Taps Party Base

Attacks on Dean Just Slide Right Off

Dean's ability to withstand attacks — and even gain strength as a result — speaks to a depth of partisan support that could make him formidable in a general election.

Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist who helped elect President Clinton, compared Dean to the politician first fitted with the Teflon label, Ronald Reagan.

Dean's strength with core Democrats gives him the flexibility to reach out to swing voters should he win the party's nomination. For all its seeming novelty, the Dean phenomenon is not entirely new. Just about every presidential campaign of the last generation has featured at least one hopeful playing the role of political outsider, and embraced by followers as the only candidate telling the truths that others avoid.

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