Some more details of the heated exchange between Howard Dean and Clinton supporters during last evening’s Obama-Clinton donor summit on Fifth Avenue, from yet another attendee:
After Dean’s initial remarks, Bernard Bergreen, a Hillary bundler, rose and said that Dean’s address left out any discussion of Michigan and Florida, which was the critical bone of contention between the two campaigns.
Dean said that in his view, the question could be settled only after the primaries had finished in June, and after the superdelegates had made their decision.
At that point Clinton campaign finance chair Hassan Nemazee spoke up. He said Dean’s response sounded to him as if the DNC chairman were “essentially trying to kick the can down the road” and that the chairman was not exhibiting the type of leadership one would expect. Nemazee said that since the campaigns obviously could not reach a solution on their own before June, Dean’s argument amounted to passing the buck.
Dean then responded, heatedly, that in his experience, those who sought the intervention of party leadership were motivated by their own particular agendas. And that was not the sort of leadership he intended to provide.
Nemazee answered that he had in no way insinuated that Dean should bring about a particular outcome, and was only calling for the chairman to take a more active role in exercising leadership. Nemazee said it needed to happen before the primaries, not after.
He also said, according to the attendee, that he found Dean’s tone accusatory and “pejorative.”
Nemazee left shortly after the exchange.
UPDATE: Here’s how one attendee, a Dean sympathizer, reconstructed Dean’s riposte to Nemazee: “You’ve been blunt with me, now let me blunt with you: people say they want leadership if it favors their argument and their candidate. You can’t change the rules right now to do what you want without it seeming unfair to the other side.”
Dean’s point, the attendee said, was that the most important thing for the party was that the loser feel that he or she had lost fairly, so that when it came time to rally around the nominee, the loser’s donors would have no reservations about helping fund the campaign and the DNC.
After his response, Dean received applause — primarily, one would suspect, from the Obama supporters in the room.