Who Is Howard Dean?

ByABC News
August 30, 2004, 2:45 PM

Jan. 15, 2004 — -- Howard Dean, a doctor and former governor of Vermont, is currently the front-runner in the bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. In an interview with ABCNEWS' Peter Jennings, Dean spoke about his family and life before politics.

Dean has lived in Vermont for 30 years as a doctor and a politician. But because he hasn't practiced medicine for 12 years, Dean thinks of himself as a politician who was once a doctor. He said he went into politics because he was "looking at ways that I could do good in the world."

Dean was born in New York City. His father worked on Wall Street and his mother was a homemaker until she went back to school after he and his three brother graduated and moved on.

"But my parents always had a house in eastern Long Island, which is where I really consider that I grew up," he said. Dean says he came from what most would consider a privileged family.

His father, a staunch Republican, had an enormous sense of humor. "He was a huge figure in our household, he was just a dominant figure," said Dean. "Four boys we were a handful. I don't know how my mother made it through because my father was somewhat of a teenager himself at times, so she really had five of us to contend with."

Two of his brothers work on his campaign for the White House. His third brother, Charles, went missing in Laos in 1974. The 24-year-old University of North Carolina graduate was traveling through Southeast Asia. He and a friend he was traveling with were believed to have been imprisoned and killed.

Remains believed to be Charles' were finally found and handed over to U.S. authorities in November 2003.

His brother's death changed Dean forever.

"It taught me to tell people what you think of them, tell them you love them if you do," he said, "because you don't know when you're not going to see them again."

After high school and before entering college, Dean spent a year at school in England. Looking at America from overseas during the Vietnam War provided him a perspective of seeing his country through a different prism.