Former Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean was in Salt Lake City Sunday to campaign for his cousin, Peter Corroon, Democrat and real-estate developer running for Salt Lake County mayor.
Dean, a top contender for the nomination before he lost to likely nominee Sen. John Kerry, did not rule out another try for the nation's highest office.
Asked by the Deseret Morning News whether he was thinking about another run, Dean replied, "No. I mean, I'm not saying I will or I won't.
"I have no idea if I will or not, but I'm certainly not going to think about it until after November. And hopefully I won't even have to think about till 2012, because I want John Kerry to win."
Both Corroon and Dean jabbed at incumbent Republican county Mayor Nancy Workman, attacking her administration for alleged extravagance in county vehicles, staffers' gasoline controversy and high-paying county jobs.
Corroon said his first act as mayor would be to buy a scraper and remove stickers from facilities that have the county mayor's name on them, replacing them with stickers saying "the citizens of Salt Lake County welcome you."
Dean's fiery speech drew repeated applause and cheers from the crowd at the rally, held at Millcreek Coffee Roasters, 657 S. Main. An organizer estimated attendance at 150 or 160, but a scan seemed to show more.
"The number one concern I'm hearing from our citizens relates to fiscal responsibility of the current administration," Corroon said. "The current mayor has over 10 people making $100,000 or more."
He criticized county executives who drive expensive cars at taxpayer expense, and said some have used their cars for personal business or have sought reimbursement for gasoline expenses "for charges that the county was already paying for." He attacked Workman for not taking strong action against county workers who may have abused the system.
"So as county mayor, I will set a tone of fiscal responsibility, because we cannot ask our county employees and our taxpayers to sacrifice if the county mayor is not willing to do so," he said.
Corroon acknowledged he drives a large vehicle, adding, "but I paid for my car."
Dean, former governor of Vermont, said he and his first cousin come about their fiscal conservatism naturally. Both, he said, are descendants of Scots.
"I was known as being tight as a tick when I was governor of Vermont. And Peter will guide the finances of Salt Lake County in the way they ought to be driven," Dean said.
"I can assure you there will be no SUVs and Expeditions and gas-guzzling and double-dipping when Peter . . . " he began, and the rest of the sentence was drowned out by shouts and applause.
Dean attacked the Bush administration on money issues.
"The fact of the matter is, we now have a president who has borrowed half a trillion dollars every single year to balance the budget. There is no fiscal conservatism left in the Republican Party. You can't trust Republicans with your tax dollars."
He reached out to what he termed moderate Republicans. He said they are people who are "deeply concerned about the half-trillion-dollar budget deficit, deeply concerned about the war."
Dean, a physician, called for changes in the health-care system. "There's no excuse for America being the last industrialized country in the world to not have some kind of health insurance for all our people," he said.
It's important to make sure that middle-class people have a safety net, he said. They are struggling with increasing tax burdens, increasing college tuitions and increasing health-insurance premiums, he said.
"Middle-class people built this country and the country belongs to us, not the people that are contributing to George Bush's campaign."
There are a lot of reasons why America is "in a fix," Dean said. "This is an election season, so everybody's going to blame the Republicans," and there's some reason for that, he said.
"But some of it is the Democrats' fault for not standing up to the Republicans when we should have."
Responding to questions from the crowd, he said he has not been offered the vice presidency or any Cabinet post in a putative Kerry administration. He said he had offered Kerry advice, but he would not disclose what it was.