The feud between Howard Dean and Rahm Emanuel appears to be over.
Dean told The Hill that he recently had lunch with the White House chief of staff, signaling a thaw in their once icy relationship.
Dean, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Emanuel, the former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, clashed publicly in the 2005-’06 cycle over the best use of resources. At one point, Emanuel stormed out of a meeting with Dean while swearing.
“I think that (tension) was always somewhat exaggerated,” said Dean during an interview this week with The Hill. “Look, we’re both very fierce competitors and very strong-minded people. But I don’t think there’s a lot of ill will between myself and Rahm Emanuel.”
Dean says he has put that behind him. He now works for a Washington law and lobbying firm as a consultant and went to the White House two months ago to have lunch with Emanuel and David Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Obama.
But Dean is not about to share the details of that discussion.
“If I discuss that in The Hill, I won’t have their ear for very long,” Dean said.
Since leaving the House to work for Obama, Emanuel has adopted a more conciliatory tone. Emanuel has noted that his new post requires a different approach and his lunch with Dean is an example of that shift.
The White House did not comment for this article by press time.
Dean is largely credited with devising a strategy to place Democratic staff in all 50 states that played a role in Obama’s triumph last November.
Yet Dean took the helm of the DNC in 2005 amid cries that he would embarrass the party, and Emanuel emerged as one of his most prominent critics.
Emanuel didn’t embrace Dean’s call to invest in states where Democrats had previously fared poorly, instead wanting to conserve the money so that Democratic House candidates could use it later in the cycle. Some say Dean’s 50-state vision proved essential to helping Obama lay the foundation for his own grassroots organization.
Dean also played a crucial role in the 2008 Democratic primary that Obama narrowly won by resisting pressure from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign to seat all the delegates from Michigan and Florida. The Clinton camp wanted the DNC to give those states their full votes at the party’s convention. But Dean stood by the national party’s decision to punish them for moving up their primaries. The DNC rules panel ultimately brokered a deal that awarded Obama 59 delegates in Michigan — even though he had removed his name from the primary ballot. That all but sealed the nomination for Obama.
Many considered Obama’s huge victory in the general election a moment of vindication for Dean, who had lost his own bid for the White House in 2004 and was largely viewed as the consummate outsider in his own party.
Dean, a medical doctor and former governor of Vermont, had expressed an interest in serving as Obama’s secretary of Health and Human Services. But he was not rewarded with an administration job even after Obama’s first choice, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), withdrew amid a scandal involving his failure to pay more than $140,000 in back taxes.
And when the time came for the announcement of Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine as his successor at the DNC, Dean was not invited to the news conference.
“That’s the way politics is,” he said. “It’s a contact sport. I don’t think you’re automatically owed a job.”source