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Howard Dean says he'd be "shocked" if Democrats nominate "two white guys" in 2020

Howard Dean weighs in on 2020 candidates

Howard Dean's job leading the Democrats' new voter data sharing initiative precludes him from publicly picking a favorite among the ever growing group of presidential contenders. But the one-time presidential candidate and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee is cautioning his party against nominating "two white guys."

"I like young candidates," Dean said in an interview with CBS News. "Our base in our party is women people of color and young people under 35 or 40. They vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. We have to get them to turn out. So I think you want to see really different Democratic Party."

Dean continued: "I would be shocked if you saw two white guys at the top of our ticket this time because in the last two elections in 2017, 2018 the people who won look like the American people and we have to keep doing that."

In his new role, Dean will be tasked with streamlining Democrats' data collection, a significant initiative that ends the longstanding friction between the state and national parties over control and access to voter information. It also enables Democrats to try and catch up with Republicans, who have had a similar system in place for some time. 

However, Dean said the party is not yet ready to prevent massive cyber breaches like the hack of the DNC and the release of the committee's emails during the 2016 campaign.

"I can guarantee you we're not ready, and we better get ready. Now we've learned some very bitter lessons because of being hacked in 2016. So we're better off than we were. But the hacking war, especially with the Russians, is going to get worse and worse."

"They're going to up their capabilities and we're going to have to up ours," Dean said. "But that's something I'm taking really, really seriously as we move down this."

Democrats currently have one of the largest and most diverse fields in recent history. There are at least 10 contenders who have officially launched presidential campaigns or exploratory committees, including including six women, two African Americans, a Latino, and a gay millennial veteran.

The diversity of the field has raised questions about the viability of the 76-year-old Joe Biden. The former vice president said this week he is in the final stages of deciding about a presidential bid, and his family is supportive of another run.

And last week, 77-year-old Sen. Bernie Sanders announced his second presidential campaign, raising an astounding $10 million in his first week. Dean called the grassroots fundraising prowess of his fellow Vermonter "extraordinary," but said Sanders could face "a harder time this year because there's so many more candidates, there's a different kind of race."

Dean also pushed back on accusations the presidential candidates are moving too far to the left, but also said the contenders need to come up with better answers to questions about Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.

"I think candidates have to get a little better with their answers," Dean said. "The Green New Deal is not a plan, it is a proposal... There's a four page plan. We need to be committed to the ideals of the Green New Deal. We're going to have an argument later about just exactly how you get there."

"This is not a matter of moving the party to the left, it's about making America strong again so everybody can participate," Dean said. "So you are going to see Medicaid for a Medicare for All. Now, there's different ways of doing Medicare for All and smart ways of doing it. You're going to see a better way to get college. There's lots of ways to do 'free college' and people are going to debate how you're going to do it, but they're not going to debate whether you should do it or not."

Dean dismissed the notion of whether Democrats could be vulnerable to President Trump and Republicans pointing to such policies to paint the party as "socialists."

"Look, if socialist means we ought to have Medicare for All, everybody should have health insurance in the country, I'm a socialist — and nobody ever accused me of that ... because I'm concerned about money."

"This country is upside down with the worst leadership probably in the history of the country," Dean said. "And we've got to do better, and we will do that but we will not do it better by attacking Donald Trump all the time. Let him attack himself, he does that well. Let us talk about what we're going to do to make the country a better place."

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