Facebookers Back Howard Dean for HHS Secretary
In the wake of Thomas A. Daschle's decision to withdraw his name from consideration for secretary of health and human services, some Democrats said they were at a loss for whom President Obama might nominate next.
Perhaps those Democrats should check with the thousands of Facebook members who want physician and former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean to serve as the next HHS secretary.
"When Daschle withdrew his nomination I wanted to help make sure Howard Dean was considered for the position," said Rob Hatch-Miller, creator of the "Howard Dean for HHS Secretary" group.
"Dean was a family practitioner for 10 years, and as governor of Vermont he was instrumental in passing legislation that expanded health care for children and the elderly and mandated equal coverage of mental health and substance abuse treatment."
"Appoint" group founder Ilya Sheyman noted that Dean expanded health care coverage 99 percent of the state's children. "That's the kind of results oriented leadership President Obama has been looking for in his cabinet."
The two group leaders have asked members to call the White House switchboard and the office of Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to voice their support. (Baucus chairs the Senate Finance Committee, which in addition to the Health, Education and Labor panel, will have to approve the eventual HHS nominee.)
"No decision has been made yet," said Assistant White House Press Secretary Reid Cherlin. "President Obama has made it clear that reforming our broken health care system is a top priority and he's moving swiftly to nominate a partner in carrying out that mission. The President thinks highly of Governor Dean's service and he's heartened to see that so many Americans are taking part in our national dialogue."
"The President should ultimately make his own decisions," said Hatch-Miller. "We just want to make sure the President knows that Dean has the support of the grassroots of the Democratic Party, including myself and many others who dedicated our time and money to the Obama campaign."
Dean's personal Facebook page has also been flooded with comments supporting his potential nomination.
"Dr. Dean...paging Dr. Dean!!!" reads one wall post.
UPDATE Feb. 9 11:00 a.m. ET: The group founders launched DeanforHHS.com Sunday night to complement their Facebook-based efforts. Notice that the site's graphics mirror the look of Dean's 2000 presidential campaign.
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