WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean should be named U.S. Health and Human Services secretary, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., said Monday.
Sanders joined Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Reps. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., Alan Grayson, D-Fla., and Peter Welch, D-Vt., in backing Dean, a physician and former Vermont governor, for the Cabinet post, the Washington publication The Hill reported.
"Governor Dean understands, as you do, that all Americans are entitled to healthcare as a right of citizenship, and that we must pay far more attention to the needs of our children if we are to have a healthy and prosperous society," Sanders wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama.
Obama renewed his search for a Health and Human Services secretary when former Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., pulled his name from consideration after paying $100,000 in back taxes.
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is the top contender to lead the department, officials said. Also under consideration is Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen. A decision on a nominee could be made soon, Politico reported Monday.
Sebelius, who has been on the short list for several Cabinet posts, said in December she would stay in Kansas to deal with its budget problems.
The possibility of Bredesen's nomination has sparked an outcry from some advocates, Politico reported, because of his previous job as a managed-care executive and continued ties to the health insurance industry.