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 GabbardClinton trolls Trump with mock letter from JFK to Khrushchev Sunday shows — Mulvaney seeks to tamp down firestorm over quid pro quo comments, Doral decision Buttigieg says he wasn't comfortable with Clinton attack on Gabbard MORE (D-Hawaii). 

"What do you think of Joe BidenJoe BidenZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Graham: 'Stupid' for Trump to ask China to investigate Biden Romney: Republicans don't criticize Trump because they fear it will help Warren 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 KerryOvernight Energy: Farmers say EPA reneged on ethanol deal | EPA scrubs senators' quotes from controversial ethanol announcement | Perry unsure if he'll comply with subpoena | John Kerry criticizes lack of climate talk at debate John Kerry calls out lack of climate questions at debate Democrats' debate divisions open the race to new (or old) faces MORE (D-Mass.).