Hillary Clinton hasn't said whether she's running in 2016, but she has an early backer in former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.
“Hillary Clinton is by far the most qualified person in the United States to serve as president. If she runs, I will support her,” the former Democratic National Committee chairman wrote in an op-ed for Politico.
A Clinton presidential campaign is expected to face contention from the progressive wing of the Democratic party; Dean ran as an anti-establishment Democrat in the 2004 presidential race.
“I am sure I will have disagreements with her as she focuses on getting Americans back to work and rebuilding an America that works for all of us,” Dean wrote. “I value and respect her enough that whatever differences may exist will be minimal compared to the tasks we really need to do for the good of restoring our country. We need a mature, seasoned, thoughtful leader at a time when maturity and thoughtfulness are increasingly rare commodities in Washington, D.C.”
Dean was the frontrunner for a time in a crowded Democratic primary field in the lead-up to the 2004 election because of his opposition to the war in Iraq. After a disappointing showing in the Iowa caucus, he infamously bellowed the "Dean scream" that haunted the rest of his ill-fated campaign.
Dean has long been a key figure among the more progressive Democrats, many of whom have expressed support for a bid by Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, or Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Dean said it's important that Clinton be elected in order to fill future Supreme Court vacancies.
“One of the most important reasons I am supporting her is because Secretary Clinton understands the institutional requirements of the Supreme Court,” Dean wrote. “More than 73 percent of Americans think the Supreme Court is no longer a fair arbitrator and is influenced by political considerations. I am one of those 73 percent. This court has repeatedly made decisions that have harmed our country for the sake of extending a political and ideological agenda that is far outside the mainstream of American traditions — on issues like campaign finance, voting rights, the rights of women and religious freedom.
“America needs a thoughtful president who will appoint judges and justices who will stand up for the Constitution and the law instead of catering to the dictates of those who fund the right-wing Federalist Society,” Dean continued. “I am confident that Hillary Clinton will provide that leadership.”