Dean, a former Vermont governor and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, dropped out of the race that year in embarrassment after video of a scream he delivered during a campaign event became a laughingstock. He withdrew to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee and has spent the last three years quietly building election momentum for party candidates, the Washington publication The Hill reported Tuesday.
Now, with a victory by Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois seemingly within reach and Democrats poised to make big gains in Congress, former Dean critics who predicted he would move the party too far to the left are changing their tunes.
"I think it's partial vindication," said Harold Ickes, a longtime ally of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. Ickes opposed Dean for the DNC chairmanship.
An unnamed DNC official told The Hill that without Dean's expertise at grassroots organizing, it would have been difficult for Obama to effectively move his thousands of young campaign workers from state to state.