Howard Dean has stumbled several times during his 21 years in politics, so campaign supporters expect him to bounce back from a thirdplace finish in last week’s Iowa caucuses and his yowl captured on national television afterward.
"He has a pretty tenacious personality," said one of Dean’s younger brothers, Jim, during a visit to the campaign’s Phoenix headquarters last week. "It is interesting because this is the first election contest he has ever lost. But my e-mail inbox has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and ideas on how he can return to the top in New Hampshire" on Tuesday.
The son of a New York stockbroker, Dean became a doctor and established a family practice with his wife, Judith, in Burlington, Vt.
His early adult years were shaped by the 1974 disappearance of another brother, Charlie, while traveling as a tourist through Laos.
The family eventually learned that Charlie Dean was kidnapped and killed by Communists, and his remains were found just last year by MIA search teams.
Dean became interested in politics after winning a public fight with a developer and his own Episcopal church over his citizen initiative to build a nine-mile bike path along a Burlington lake.
His anger at the church’s stance, which had owned land along the proposed path, prompted him to join a Congregationalist church.
That combative attitude has repeated itself throughout Dean’s political career.
As Vermont governor, he clashed with state Republicans over expanding health care programs and with Democrats over balancing the state budget after years of deficits.
Dean stepped down as governor in 2003 to make his first bid for the presidency.
He went from obscure candidate to leading contender by means of breakthrough innovations for Internet campaigning that have built off the Democrats’ largest grass-roots organizations.
Dean also raised the most contributions of any Democratic contender in 2003, and he rejected federal matching dollars in an effort to keep pace with the record -breaking fundraising of President Bush.