Will Liberals Scream for Howard Dean Again?

(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Howard Dean today became the latest Democrat to head to Iowa while skillfully dodging questions about whether he's interested in running for president in 2016.

Dean, a former Democratic candidate for president in 2004 and former governor of Vermont, has a long history with Iowa - namely his prospective presidential bid essentially ended there almost 10 years ago with a feral scream heard around the world.

He spoke today at an Iowa Federation of Labor event about an effort by the liberal group Democracy For America to elect more Democratic state legislators.

Dean is known to be outspoken, so he didn't dodge either his presidential ambitions or that infamous Iowa moment in which he screamed out all the states he was going to win. "It's great to be back," Dean reportedly told the crowd. "I promise not to list any states."

Asked by Iowa radio whether he would run if Hillary doesn't, Dean answered, "We're not going there," according to Radio Iowa's O. Kay Henderson. "I'm supporting Hillary."

He made similar comments to the Des Moines Register, but added "at this point" he's supporting Clinton. Read into that what you will.

Dean also served as chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009, and his "50-state strategy" was credited with helping Democrats win a majority in the House, Senate, a majority of governorships and state legislatures across the country.

If Dean were to run, he'd probably have to do it by heading straight for Clinton's (or Vice President Joe Biden's) left flank.

That would mean a more populist message, focused on expanding, not "reforming" entitlements and Wall Street reform, which some liberal Democrats feel the mainstream of the party has largely abandoned for the sake of political expediency.

"If no candidate endorses these positions there's absolutely room for a Howard Dean, Elizabeth Warren-type of candidate," said Matt Wall, press secretary for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. "That's popular in Democratic states, and our polling shows that it's popular even in Republican states."

Notably, Dean, who is also a doctor, is headed to New Hampshire next month to give a speech on health care at the Saint Anselm College New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

So what's a non-presidential candidate doing in two key early voting swing states?

"That's a really good question," Wall said.