Howard Dean looking for a 'younger, newer' Democratic nominee in 2020

Howard Dean looking for a 'younger, newer' Democratic nominee in 2020
© Getty

Former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean on Thursday said that he is interested in a "younger, newer" nominee in the upcoming presidential election.

"The people that I am most interested in are the young ones," Dean said on "CNN Newsroom." "I think it’s time that the young people took over the party." 

"They pretty much did in the last election," he added, attributing the wins during the midterms to youth-led advocacy groups including Color of Change and Indivisible.  

ADVERTISEMENT

CNN's John Berman followed up by asking Dean about former Rep. Beto O'RourkeRobert (Beto) Francis O'RourkeSanders announces first endorsements in South Carolina On The Money: Cain 'very committed' to Fed bid despite opposition | Pelosi warns no US-UK trade deal if Brexit harms Irish peace | Ivanka Trump says she turned down World Bank job Ex-Obama campaign manager: Sanders can't beat Trump MORE (D-Texas), a 46-year-old who mobilized voters across the country with his Texas Senate bid against incumbent Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBooker, Harris have missed most Senate votes O'Rourke sweeps through Virginia looking to energize campaign Disney to donate million to rebuild Notre Dame MORE (R). O'Rourke ultimately lost the campaign, which was the closest Senate race the state has seen in decades.

"I don’t know Beto personally," Dean said. "His campaign was unbelievably attractive. I think in some ways he’s incredibly well-prepared to run for president if he chooses to do that, which he may not for personal reasons." 

O'Rourke, who is mulling a 2020 presidential bid, on Wednesday posted a blog in which he wrote that he has "been stuck lately ... in and out of a funk." Berman asked Dean about the optics of a potential presidential candidate "publicly ruminating."

"There’s a whole new set of rules being written," Dean said. "It’s the under-30s and under-35s that are rewriting these rules.  That honesty and public rumination is very attractive to people." 

"This is a very confusing time because you’re seeing a generational shift in the Democratic Party, which is inevitable," Dean said.

Dean compared O'Rourke to former President Obama, a parallel that has been drawn by numerous Democratic strategists and political commentators.

"He's run what may be the second-toughest race in the country, which is a Senate race in Texas, and he did really, really well," Dean said. "He’s a little like Obama in the sense that he has enormous personal charisma and ability to organize all over the country. He has a lot of advantages going in." 

The Democratic primary is likely to be crowded, with over two dozen potential candidates considering bids. 

Several Democrats have already announced plans to run in 2020, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and former Obama Housing Secretary Julián Castro most recently.