WaPo reports that Dean is campaigning like the nominee:
Former Vermont governor Howard Dean is campaigning like a candidate who appears increasingly confident of winning the Democratic presidential nomination, striking a more conciliatory tone and signaling how he would run in the general election.
Leading in polls in Iowa, in New Hampshire and nationally, Dean is toning down attacks on his Democratic rivals and avoiding the back-and-forth criticism that has defined much of the presidential campaign.
In recent days, he has been dismissive when other Democrats go after him, sending staff members — or even a nurse from a local hospital — to rebut the attacks so he can stay away from the bickering. In Sunday’s debate, Dean was uncharacteristically calm as he brushed off criticism about his record as governor and his penchant for making controversial or contradictory statements. “As you know, I have a reputation for saying exactly what I think. And while the words may not be precise, the meaning is not hard to figure out,” he said.
If that doesn’t strike you as arrogant, I don’t know what will. But, the fact is he is probably right. Though let’s see if the insider trading allegations have any impact on him. Again, I think they will wound him, but not kill him before he gets the nomination.
Now he has Gore’s and Bradley’s endorsements. Of course he is playing this up as getting the centrist and left wing endorsements. Remember, though, that Gore moved rapidly to the fringe of the left wing before endorsing Dean. This does not look like he has the center.
Dean’s efforts to appear Presidential are probably going to further make the establishment mad. Sending a nurse out to answer criticism looks like you don’t care when you haven’t been nominated.
Dean’s problem is not going to be his temper. It will be his arrogance. You don’t rally the party around you when you dismiss it as irrelevant. Dean may think he has a core group of internet Deaniacs. The fact is, the demographic makeup is more homogenous than the Demcratic Party as a whole. I don’t think he can translate that into votes without a lot more work and a lot more effort at wrapping the whole of the party around him. Dean still will need party help with GOTV. The precinct captains of the Democratic party are part of the establishment. They can’t be so easily dismissed because there isn’t a lot of time between now and November to recreate the structure of the party.