Howard Dean: Romney has "no core belief"

(CBS News) Mitt Romney's strong performance against President Obama in Wednesday's debate "did some damage," former Vermont governor and Democratic National Chair Howard Dean admitted Friday on "CBS This Morning." But on some of his positions, Dean added, the Republican nominee came off as "a guy who will say anything to be president of the United States."

"I thought the president did fine," Dean -- who ran for president in 2004 -- said. But, he conceded, "Mitt Romney was very aggressive, and they should have been prepared for that."

Mr. Obama's closest advisers, CBS White House correspondent Bill Plante said earlier in the show, weren't going to change the president's mind on his "real preference... to try to remain low-key." Still, Plante added, some Democrats fault the president for not having foresight that Romney was going to up his aggression. "Presidents are used to deference -- they are not used to people challenging them like that," he said.

Dean said he expects the president to be "much more aggressive" in future debates, but predicted Romney himself will be the source of his own undoing.

"The truth is, he's become totally untethered from everything he said before," Dean said. "He's moved all the way back to the middle from his extreme position in the primary." During the debate, President Obama mocked Romney for backing away from an aspect of his economic plan that would result in $5 trillion in tax cuts, largely for the wealthy. 

Adding to his critique of what he considers Romney's lack of straightforwardness with voters, Dean stopped short of calling a Romney "a liar," but said, "he just manages to convince himself that any position is fine at the time...Romney says whatever he has to say and there's no core belief there." 

"This final apology for the '47 percent' remark," Dean continued, "it really does look like a guy who will say anything to be president of the United States."

Dean also defended a less-than-eloquent comment by the vice president Thursday, when he told a Council Bluffs, Iowa crowd, "Yes we do" want a trillion dollar tax hike -- the result of allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire for Americans making over $250,000 a year. Dean said the attention drawn to the remark is nothing more than out-of-context "media hand-wringing."

Heading into next week's debate between Biden and Romney's GOP running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Plante said some Democrats he's heard from are "afraid the 54-year-old Ryan is going to make the 69-year-old Biden look kind of out of touch. And they say if that happens, we're in real trouble."

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    Lindsey Boerma is senior video producer for CBSNews.com.

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