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Gary Younge
Dean considers chairman's post

"He told me he was thinking about it," Steve Grossman, a former chairman of the Democratic national committee, said on Monday. Mr Grossman backed Mr Dean during the former Vermont governor's failed nomination bid.

Mr Dean, who ran a populist anti-war campaign, said he had received thousands of emails encouraging him to try for the job but he remained undecided.

His campaign launched him from a virtual unknown to the frontrunner in the race, but his fortunes faded rapidly after coming third in the first party caucuses in Iowa.

Roughly 240 members of the national committee will elect a new leader early next year. Several names are already being mentioned, including a former aide to Bill Clinton, Harold Ickes; Donna Brazile, who ran Al Gore's presidential campaign, and the governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsack.

But on Monday, Mr Dean's spokeswoman, Laura Gross, said it was "far too early to be speculating" on Mr Dean becoming party chairman. "The election was less than a week ago," she said.

Mr Grossman, however, said it was not too soon for the Democrats to focus on their future leadership.

"I strongly urged Mr Dean to seek the position," he said.

"Howard is a voice of political empowerment and that to me is important for the Democrats to get their sea legs back as quickly as possible, to get beyond the disappointment of the last week and to believe there is a bright future ahead for the Democratic party."

Mr Grossman said that if Mr Dean was to run for chairman, he would need to pledge that he would serve the full four-year term, thus ruling out a presidential bid in 2008.

The next chairman will replace Terry McAuliffe.

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