Howard Dean to CNN: All Dem candidates qualified to be president except Tulsi Gabbard

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said early Thursday that he believes all the party's candidates are qualified to the president, except for Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardGabbard clashes with Fox News anchor: You're 'twisting and misconstruing my policies' Moulton enters 2020 White House race Tulsi Gabbard fundraises off 4/20: 'Appalls me' that feds consider marijuana illegal MORE (D-Hawaii). 

"What do you think of Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenWarren unveils plan to cancel student loan debt, create universal free college Moulton enters 2020 White House race The Hill's Morning Report - Is impeachment back on the table? MORE getting in or possibly getting in?" asked CNN "New Day" co-host Alisyn Camerota during a discussion of the 2020 Democratic field with Dean.

"Well, that's his personal choice. I've already said what I had to say about turning the page on ... my generation," Dean replied. "But ... Joe Biden is a good guy and people like Joe Biden a lot. He's run before and hasn't been able to win."

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"I mean I'm really not going to take sides in this," he later added. "There are no candidates, with one exception, that I really don't think should be president."

"And who's that exception?" asked co-host John Berman.

"Tulsi Gabbard. I don't think she knows what she's doing and I don't think she ... is qualified. She's not qualified," Dean responded.

"And what's that based on?" asked Camerota.

"About her dalliances with [Syrian President Bashar Assad], her statements about gay people. ... I don't know what she thinks she's doing.”

Gabbard, a Democratic congresswoman from Hawaii and former military member who was deployed to Iraq in 2005, met with Assad in 2017 during what her office characterized as a “fact-finding” mission in the war-torn region.

“Initially I hadn’t planned on meeting him,” Gabbard later told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “When the opportunity arose to meet with him, I did so, because I felt it’s important that if we profess to truly care about the Syrian people, about their suffering, then we’ve got to be able to meet with anyone that we need to if there is a possibility that we could achieve peace. And that’s exactly what we talked about.”

Dean's reference to her "statements about gay people" derives from Gabbard's previous work for an anti-LGBTQ organization organized by her father and testimony against legislation in 2004 that expanded a civil union bill while she served in the Hawaii state legislature.

A CNN report said Gabbard argued at the time that Democrats "should be representing the views of the people, not a small number of homosexual extremists."

Gabbard expressed regret when responding to the CNN report while citing her work and support of supporting LGBTQ rights since joining Congress.

The Hill has reached out to Gabbard's office for comment on Dean's remarks.

Dean, a former Vermont governor, once led the Democratic field for the party's nomination in 2004 before eventually losing out to then-Sen. John KerryJohn Forbes KerryTrump: 'Iran is being given very bad advice by John Kerry' Trump removes sanctions waivers on countries buying oil from Iran Buttigieg to fundraise in DC with major Obama, Clinton bundlers next month: report MORE (D-Mass.).