Inside Move: Dean maintains steam

Democrat sees less pressure as Arnold steals spotlight

Who’s the biggest beneficiary of Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s campaign?

Aside from Warner Home Video, which is re-releasing “Pumping Iron,” the 1977 body-building docu, it just may be presidential candidate Howard Dean.

Like Schwarzenegger, Dean burst onto the national political scene seemingly from out of nowhere.

Before Schwarzenegger made his surprise announcement Aug. 6, Dean was on a meteoric rise. The Dean campaign was particularly adept at finding supporters and donors on the Internet, and Dean — the former governor of Vermont — suddenly found his face splashed on the covers of both Newsweek and Time and being hailed as the frontrunner in the crowded race to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004.

Normally, the laws of gravity dictate that what goes up must come down — even in politics. The popular refrain among political commentators was that Dean may have peaked too early.

But the abrupt change in subject to all things Arnold just as suddenly pushed Dean into the media shadows — which has been a good thing for his campaign.

In recent weeks, Dean has crisscrossed the country attending political rallies and fund-raisers without the pressures of being hounded daily on policy proposals and personal foibles.

So far, playing second-fiddle on the national political stage has treated Dean well. His campaign recently announced he will have raised $10.3 million in the third quarter of 2003, an amount only topped by Bill Clinton in his 1996 re-election bid. And a recent poll showed Dean with a commanding 21-point lead over Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry heading into the New Hampshire primary.