Asked if he was ruling out a 2016 run, Dean grinned and said “Ahhhh, we’re done here. Thank you,” before departing in a waiting car.

Dean said earlier this year that he had not ruled out a 2016 bid. 

In 2004, he was a front-runner for the Democratic nomination before a surprise third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses. His speech to supporters that night, in which he promised to keep campaigning and finished off with a high-pitched shriek, was nicknamed the “Dean scream” and widely credited with the demise of his presidential ambitions. 

Dean was in Iowa to address a convention of labor activists and is headed to New Hampshire for an event in September, sparking speculation over his future political plans.

Handed an Iowa pin to fix to his lapel at the event, he remarked: “That’ll cause a lot of trouble when I show up in Washington, won’t it?

Dean told the crowd that he was not there to talk about the presidential race or even Congress, focusing instead on his political action committee, Democracy for America’s “Purple to Blue” project, which seeks to turn swing states into safe Democratic votes.

“There are four or five states, one of which is Iowa, that I suspect Democracy for America is going to be very interested in focusing on, both financially and organizationally,” Dean said.