Voter Triggers Dean's Much-Talked About Temper
Sun January 11, 2004 05:30 PM ET
By Patricia Wilson
OELWEIN, Iowa (Reuters) - Dale Ungerer, a 66-year-old retiree from Hawkeye, Iowa, succeeded on Sunday where eight Democratic presidential hopefuls have failed -- he made front-runner Howard Dean show a flash of his much-discussed temper.
The former Vermont governor had just finished his standard stump speech blasting President Bush for, among other things, his Iraq policy and his stewardship of the economy. He asked, as is his custom, for "questions, comments or rude remarks in the New England tradition."
Ungerer, wearing a T-shirt bearing the words "Mr Fix It," rose to his feet and condemned what he called the incivility of the campaign and the political press. He suggested Dean and the other Democratic candidates stop "tearing down your neighbor" and cut their "slam, bam and bash Bush" rhetoric.
"Please tone down the garbage, the mean-mouthing of tearing down your neighbor and being so pompous," Ungerer, a registered Republican who voted for Bush in 2000, said to scattered hisses and boos from the overwhelmingly pro-Dean audience at the Oelwein Community Center.
Dean, whose rivals have suggested his impulsiveness, outspokenness and temperament make him less than ready for the White House but have been unable to provoke him in a dozen or more debates and forums, began by calmly replying: "George Bush is not my neighbor."
But when Ungerer stood and tried to interrupt, Dean shouted: "You sit down. You had your say. Now I'm going to have my say."
The crowd cheered and Ungerer sat.
"George Bush has done more to harm this county right here with unfunded mandates, standing up for corporations who take over the farmers' land, making it impossible for middle class people to make a real living, sending our kids to Iraq without telling us the truth first about why they went," Dean said.
"It's not the time to put up any of this 'love thy neighbor' stuff ... I love my neighbor, but I'll tell you I want THAT neighbor back in Crawford, Texas where he belongs."
After Ungerer left the room trailed by reporters, Dean lambasted Bush for trying to cut overtime pay, calling it another reason he had "differed with the gentleman over here so vociferously."
"This is the president of the United States," he said. "I don't think that's being a good neighbor to ordinary working people."