By Mike Lillis
Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said Sunday that President Obama's political advisers are out of touch with average Americans and need to "spend some time outside Washington."
"The people around the president have really misjudged what goes on elsewhere in the country, other than Washington," Dean told Candy Crowley on CNN's "State of the Union."
"I don't think this is true of the president, but I do think his people, his political people, have got to go out and spend some time outside Washington for a while."
The comments came in response to recent criticisms lodged by White House spokesman Robert Gibbs against what he called the "professional left" — liberals who "wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president," Gibbs told The Hill earlier this month.
"I don't know what he meant by that," Dean said Sunday. "The average Democrat is a progressive. And, you know, there are some things that are upsetting about the kind of deals that were made by the president's people on healthcare."
Dean — who opposed the Democrats' health reform bill because, among other things, it didn't include a public insurance option — urged party leaders to put aside differences and shift their focus to November.
"This is the time to put that stuff behind us," he said. "We've got to win this election."
Dean's comments came just a few days after Charlie Cook, a prominent election handicapper, predicted the November midterms would shift House control back to the Republicans.
"We're just seeing every sign in the world that this is going to be a wave — and a pretty good sized wave," Cook told the Wall Street Journal on Friday. "It's more likely than not that the House is gonna tip over."
Dean disagreed, arguing the party is "in much better shape" than the pundits say. He's predicting Democrats will keep control of the House this November, even if their majority is "as small as five or 10 [seats]."
"We're going to have some pick-ups; we're going to have some losses," Dean said. "But at the end of the day, I think we control both houses."
The reason, Dean said, is that the Democrats have a wildcard: President Obama.
"This election, for better or for worse, depends on how hard the president fights between now and election day," Dean said. "For the president to be out there fighting, as he has been for the last two or three weeks, and sounding like Harry Truman, people love that stuff.
"They want to see a fighter. They want to see strength in their leaders, and I think president Obama is showing that strength. … He appears to want to win this."
Dean did, however, concede one caveat. "Obviously," he said, "I'm partisan about this."