Dean All Smiles, Despite Delay

Democratic presidential hopeful former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont, center, smiles as he joins the leadership of the Service Employees International Union hoping for an endorsement at a Washington hotel, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2003. Andrew L. Stern, president of the 1.6 million-member labor union told reporters that he would wait until November 12, 2003 to formally announce the SEIU's backing for a candidate.
CBS News Reporter Eric Salzman is traveling with the Dean campaign.

Presidential hopeful Howard Dean appeared to have a good day Thursday.

After meeting with leaders of the Service Employees International Union, Dr. Dean received the endorsement of the 1.6 million-member union – only the SEIU won't officially say so until Wednesday, November 12.

Andrew Stern, president of the SEIU, said in a prepared statement: "Gerald McEntee, President of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, has asked us to wait to announce the decision made here today until AFSCME's board can meet. Therefore we will wait to announce."

Sources at the AFL-CIO tell CBS News that McEntee is ready to support Dean as well, after getting the approval of the AFSCME board, but that is considered pro forma. McEntee and Stern believe a joint endorsement next week would send a powerful signal.

Nevertheless, Dr. Dean was all smiles throughout Thursday's non-announcement.

During the brief event held in a hotel conference room, he stood in an SEIU jacket flanked by more than two-dozen union members. He said little, explaining that "obviously I am not going to say much because we're not announcing."

The lack of an official announcement came as a bit of a surprise and quickly took on a comical tone as the room's appearance clearly indicated the SEIU had decided to endorse Dean.

"Our members continue to say Dr. Dean is the candidate who best represents their concerns," Stern said.

Regardless of the non-announcement, the Dean campaign and its candidate were smiling ear to ear after the event. Just before the governor's van pulled away from the hotel, Dean called out to his campaign manager Joe Trippi, "I owe you a kiss."

By Eric Salzman