The author of Thursday's "Wisconsin or Bust" e-mail, which put the Governor in a foul mood, remains unidentified, although staffers from the Burlington ranch admit that new campaign manager Roy Neel was involved in the process. The e-mail drew a strong line in the snow with the words "anything less than a win in Wisconsin" would put his campaign "out of the race" and set off a flurry of events including conference calls, a press avail and a impromptu flight from Michigan, where Dean is lagging in the polls by more than 40 points, to the Badger State. By the end of the day the Governor seemed to accept the strategy, calling it a "brilliant ploy."
Perhaps Dean's resignation is due to the money raised as a result of the e-mail. As of this morning, the Win Wisconsin bat has snowballed in $787, 840.41 for new ads and a new challenge has been raised: Double the amount to $1.4 million.
Dean continues to campaign in what he described as a "must-win" state today. This morning he is said to be joined by SEIU President Andy Stern and mid-afternoon Pearl Jam I and II will be wheels up heading to Vermont for a down day on Saturday. That night the Governor will attend his son's last high school hockey game.
Campaign has "just another Tuesday night"
SEATTLE, Feb. 3 — Walking into the lobby of the Seattle Westin Hotel, Gov. Howard Dean waved off two early 20-something autograph seekers. The brush-off was uncharacteristic of the candidate, who boasts that one-fourth of his supporters are under the age of 30. Perhaps it was losing to Al Sharpton in South Carolina or something that happened on the van ride from Tacoma to Seattle. Or maybe it was driving by the Sheraton Hotel and seeing the massive swarm of Kerry supporters.
Aide Mike O'Mary dismisses these theories and offers up this one. Of late the Governor has been approached by the same group of people asking for photos and autographs, which they are selling on e-Bay. A quick click on the electronic auction house comes up with some interesting Dean tchotchkes: A Perfect Storm hat, Howard Dean scream buttons, a 12-inch Howard Dean action doll and, yes, signed photos.
Up until that moment, Dean seemed to be holding up well. On stage at his last event he acknowledged the dismal results, saying, "Well, the votes are starting to come in and we are going to have a tough night." He appeared relaxed and joked with reporters in the green room following the rally. On his way out, The Doctor grabbed an apple. During the van ride to the hotel he spoke with his wife and son. Dean also got word from Vermont that he picked up delegates in New Mexico.
The Vermont staff half-heartedly monitored the results in the Burlington office. When Dean asked advisers for numbers before calling into Larry King, adviser Kate O'Connor called headquarters only to discover that the staff hadn't been paying much attention. "It's was no secret as to how things were going to turn out," said staffer Sarah Leonard. "It was just another Tuesday night for the Dean campaign." Still, staffers say it has been frustrating watching Kerry and Edwards "highjack" the Governor's message so successfully. "They did well with it in Iowa because they weren't dealing with the attacks."