Dean Can't Decide Whether Conventions Matter

Says DNC Troubles No Big Deal, Then Reverses in Next Answer

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Howard Dean, do you think there's a story about the Democratic convention? Claire McCaskill on this show yesterday said she needs to be campaigning and doesn't need to be at cocktail parties in Charlotte.

HOWARD DEAN: She’s probably right. This happens every four years, and it happens in both parties--although there are not many moderates left in the Republican Party that have to worry about this. I don't make much out of it. I think Mike is accurate: People don't pay that much attention to these conventions. They are valuable because they do get to -- you do get to kick your speech off or your campaign off officially when people start to pay attention around the turn in September. But they're mostly big gatherings every four years for the party insiders.

MIKE ALLEN: Gov. Dean, do you think they should be shorter or what would you change about the traditional format for decades? We've had the four days Republicans are sticking to that. Democrats altering it a little bit, doing a festival Monday and then three formal days of convention. What would you change about the format?

DEAN: First of all, three is more than enough. We had a great thing in Denver because the people of Denver were so fantastic and it's a great setting. But I think three days at the end of the summer when people are trying to get their kids back to school is plenty and you'll see that institutionalized by both parties because it's so expensive. Secondly, you cannot do this without corporate contributions. The Democrats are trying to do it. That's why they're short. It just can't be done that way. But I do think it's important, I don't think you can give up on the conventions. They matter to the party--the party faithful. It is, and the American people do pay some attention to the big speeches.