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I participated in a blogger conference call with Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean today. He made brief opening remarks and then proceeded to take questions from bloggers in on the call:

Kombiz Lavasany: Hi guys, this is Kombiz Lavasany with the Democratic National Committee. I’ve got Governor Howard Dean here. I’m gonna go ahead and put him on and we’ll take your questions right afterwards.

Howard Dean: Hi guys. Which is the generic term, of course, meaning guys and gals. Let me just say, thank you for your incredible commitment to change. And your incredible commitment to making sure that ordinary Americans are empowered by empowering the grassroots. It was a great campaign, for a lot of reasons. And, as you may remember, there was a guy who ran for president in 2004 who had the slogan “you have the power”. Well, you really do have the power and you exercised it well. And I, and you helped a lot of people in the grassroots exercise it which is even more important. So I just wanted to say thanks. I am happy to take comments, questions, and field rude remarks. There are a couple of things I’m not gonna talk about, but you’ll find out what those are if you ask me any questions about ’em. So, with that we’ll just open…

Question: Hi Governor Dean.

Howard Dean: Hi.

Question: This is Amy Morton down in Georgia. Hope you’re well. We’re not quite done with elections [crosstalk] in Georgia…

Howard Dean: No, you’re not. How’s the early voting going? The early voting reports were pretty good.

Question: Early voting is okay. It’s not uniform across the state, though. It did not begin at the same time.

Howard Dean: Uh huh.

Question: But I wanted to ask you about what the DNC’s efforts are regarding our senate race.

Howard Dean: We’ve got folks on the ground. The Obama people have kept all their offices open. There’s a fair amount of money going in. I think you, you’ve seen that in the ads. And this is a test for us. And it’s a difficult test. Because, it’s you know, this, as you know, this business of runoffs is really crazy. Everybody gets worked up and then they, there’s a let down. And, but, business is not over in Georgia.

Question: Right.

Howard Dean: So, we clearly need to energize the same voters that went out and voted for Barack Obama, to vote for Jim Martin. Now, Jim Martin, in my view is a wonderful, wonderful candidate. He’s a great human being. And anybody who voted for Barack Obama should be very proud to vote for Jim Martin. But, you know, this is a turnout game and there’s lots of work to be done. And this is, this is a test for us.

Question: Yes, and, and for us, too. And we certainly appreciate all the help the, that we’re getting in terms of field, from not just the DNC, but from volunteers all over the country. And just want to encourage everybody to encourage their readership to keep the good thoughts and volunteers and phone calls and all that coming to Georgia.

Howard Dean: And they’re knocking on doors, which is really…if we can get out the big vote that’s gonna make all the difference in the world.

Question: Yes, I agree. It’s what it’s all about. But thank you.

Howard Dean: Thank you…

Question: Hi, Governor Dean. I have a question about the fifty state strategy. Comparing the electoral math from 2008 to 2004 and 2000, it’s evident that Barack Obama over performed, out performed John Kerry and Al Gore in most states. But, there, there are regions in Appalachia and the inland south where he significantly under performed. I was wondering if you think that is any way a failure of the fifty, fifty state strategy or if that’s the result of not enough commitment on, on Senator Obama’s part, to campaign in those regions or what you think about that.

Howard Dean: The truth is we don’t know. Until we dissect all the exit polls we’re not gonna know. I, let me just tell you about my own experience in this is. People always want to dissect campaigns after they’re over, whether you win or lose. People did this when I ran my campaign. I, I hadn’t really figured it out until about eighteen months later, what the real problems with my campaign were. So, you know, clearly we would prefer to do better in the Appalachian regions. But the win in Florida, which is the most complex state in the country, to win in North Carolina and Virginia, and to win in the west is a huge, huge improvement over our position and playing defense in those states in 2012 is going to be very, very good for the Democratic Parties in those regions. So, again, I don’t know why we didn’t do better in the Appalachian regions, but I, over time we’ll figure that out. And, and we’ll try to go back in and do better the next time. But, again, I think the real story, at least for me, were, were Florida, the, the crack in the Confederacy, for the first time in a long time, other than a couple of states with Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. And, and the most importantly of all to me, not from a sort of a morale point of view, because the south is incredibly important that way, was, and so is Florida, but, was the west. Because we started out four years ago with a strategy that the road to the White House leads through the west and that you could win without Ohio or Florida if you had to if you could take those western states. We took all of the ones we intended to take except for Arizona, for obvious reasons. And we added Iowa to make up for that. And, and that’s very, very important. I think we can be a permanent presence in the west and I think we can be a permanent presence now in Virginia and North Carolina. And I tell you what the next state on my list is Texas. We’re getting closer and closer there. I think we can win there, too…

Part 2 of our transcript will follow.