Dean: Both parties "huff and puff" over small stuff

Howard Dean
Howard Dean talks about the nasty campaign season on CBS This Morning on Aug. 16, 2012.

(CBS News) Republicans have been up in arms over remarks that Vice President Joe Biden made Tuesday, but one Democratic insider says this latest campaign controversy amounts to "inside-the-beltway huff and puff."

Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor and 2004 presidential hopeful, said on "CBS This Morning" Thursday that both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of acting outraged any time the other side says something "modestly controversial."

"The other people feign great indignation, then huff and puff, and it goes away," he said.

At a campaign stop in Virginia Tuesday, Biden told more than 800 supporters, many of whom were African-American, that Mitt Romney wants to repeal the financial regulations enacted after the Wall Street crash of 2008, and that Republicans are "going to put you all back in chains" with their economic and regulatory policies.

In response, Romney said the Obama campaign is a "disgrace" to the presidency. While several Republicans fell in line and gave the same talking points against the vice president, Dean said keeping the controversy alive won't help Romney.

"They've really got to start focusing on the economy, and they haven't done that yet," he said.

Both sides should start focusing on substantive issues, but the distractions aren't surprising, Dean said. "This is a very nasty campaign, and the reason is you have a president weakened by a bad economy... [and] a nominee out of step with the American people on the Republican side."