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Howard Dean Returns To N.H. To Endorse, Not Run

Paige Sutherland/NHPR
Howard Dean stumped for Hillary Clinton at a house party in Keene Wednesday night.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is back on the presidential campaign trail in New Hampshire, but this time not as a candidate. Dean, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, is now working to get Hillary Clinton in the White House.

At a house party in Keene Wednesday night Dean told the more than 30 people in the crowd that Clinton is the most qualified person for the job. But while endorsing Clinton’s strategy on college debt – he strayed from the script. Something he was known to do when running for president himself in 2004.

Dean said rather than just reducing college debt, which was outlined in Clinton’s initiative, he would go even further and forgive 50 percent of student loans.

“I just want to say I don’t speak for Hillary Clinton. I don’t talk to the campaign. If they send me talking points maybe I’ll use them, maybe I won’t," he told the crowd. "For those of you who worked in my campaign 12 years ago, you know this feeling because you never know what is coming next,” he said laughing.

Dean said he’s backing Clinton because she has what he called a fact-based approach, she’s tough and she’s willing to work across the aisle. But her strongest asset he said is her tenure as Secretary of State.

“Experience is the big thing. I mean foreign affairs is incredible, it’s very, very important, she has enormous experience with dealing with people who are not fun to deal with around the world like Vladamir Putin and the ayatollahs ,  and I think Hillary would be a very strong leader in that regard,” he told NHPR before the event.

In 2004 Dean finished second in the New Hampshire primary behind John Kerry, the eventual Democratic nominee.  He later went on to serve as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He now works part-time for a law firm in DC and teaches at Yale and Hofstra Universities.

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