Wrapping up his Sleepless Summer Tour at a rally in New York Bryant Park last night, Howard Dean, M.D., once again brought his supporters--more than 10,000 of them this time--to a near frenzy with his promise to provide all Americans with access to health insurance.
Democratic presidential candidate Dean could hardly contain his own excitement when a giant video screen flashed a meter showing that his campaign had exceed its goal to raise $1 million during the four-day tour. As of 9:58 p.m. EDT, 17,115 contributors had donated $1,003,620 toward the Dean election effort as part of the most recent challenge. Almost 10,000 were first-time contributors.
One supporter, Robert Johnson, M.D., has a family practice with two other physicians in Byron, Ill., near Rockford. Johnson drove with his wife and two sons--one of whom is a first-year medical student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign--to the Dean rally last Saturday night in Milwaukee, where he said he gives money to the Dean campaign every month on his credit card.
"A lot of my patients are losing their healthcare insurance," Johnson said, adding that he gives to Dean because "he shouldn't be intimidated by Bush and the Republicans."
Riding on the success of the coast-to-coast trip, Dean's campaign staff told media correspondents flying with him that they had increased their goal for third-quarter fund-raising from $7.6 million, the amount raised during the second quarter, to $10.3 million.
"Based on what's coming in at events and online, we now believe we're on pace to set a goal of $10.3 million," said Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi.
Former President Bill Clinton was the only Democratic candidate to raise that much in any quarter during an off year, in 1995, Trippi said.
Trippi also announced that Dean, an internist and former governor of Vermont, this week will shoot a 32-second television advertisement that will air in selected markets in six states for two weeks. The ads will run in Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin.
Dean set a goal in January to have 450,000 supporters by Sept. 30. As of Tuesday night, he had 329,000, Trippi said.
"It's the most aggressive nominating cycle in history," Trippi said.
Steve McMahon, a media consultant on the Dean team, said Dean's medical practice and experience governing a state give him an advantage over the other Democratic candidates in being able to deliver on his healthcare policy promises.
"One of the reasons he wanted to get involved in politics was because he saw people who didn't have access, who didn't have insurance, and he wanted to do something about it," McMahon said. "It starts with a broad, deep knowledge because of his medical background and his experience as governor."