Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor and Democratic Party boss who ran for president in 2004, has started to hint that he might be up for another run, especially if Hillary Clinton doesn’t in 2016.

Dean stirred up speculation with a recent speech in Iowa and a planned trip to New Hampshire followed by this comment about his potential candidacy last week to Vermont Public Radio: “I’m intending to support Hillary, assuming she runs. So, the answer is, it’s unlikely.”

Allies suggest that Dean, whose first presidential bid died in Iowa which he was expected to win but came in a poor third, is focused on health care and expanding the reach of progressive Democrats in Washington. But, they add, he still has the presidential itch and would be the leading progressive in the race.

His refusal to shut the door has some allies of the progressive politico eager to help. Some suggested that his trips around the nation to promote health care and progressive candidates are a good starting point for a national race. They believe that if Hillary doesn’t run and Democrats started a “Draft Dean” movement, he’d bite.

Others say he really isn’t considering a run, but admit that like other former presidential candidates, Dean has rethought how he would do a run differently. The Vermont Public Radio website, in fact, said in their headline about Dean’s interview that he didn’t plan to run “for now.”

Dean even joked about running again in the interview: “I often not-so-jokingly say it’s easy to get in the first time because you don’t know what you’re getting into. But the second time, you should see a psychiatrist, hopefully not on a fee-for-service basis.”

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at