So, what’s Howard Dean going to do after tomorrow? Better question: How’s he going to do it?

As the media raced around over the weekend filling buckets with the leaks springing out of the beleaguered campaign, only a handful of reporters bothered to note a subtle but distinct shift in the message now emanating from the Dean camp.

On Sunday, as speculation swelled over Dean’s continued candidacy thanks to comments from top aide Steven Grossman, the Associated Press quoted Dean saying, “We are not bowing out.”

Said Dean himself: “The forum we will use to stay in the race remains to be seen. Period. Anybody who says anything to the contrary has misspoken.”

Dean now may have a new (or maybe, dusted-off) definition of the word “quit.” Roy Neel, Dean’s campaign chief, posted this message on the candidate’s website last night: Dean “is determined to go forward, keep fighting, to advance the message of this movement.”

The “key word” there is movement, writes John Mercurio of CNN.com. “In other words,” says Mercurio, “Dean might leave the ‘04 Dem race, but he’s not leaving you. So watch carefully this week, as Dean’s campaign evolves from a bid for federal office, to a social and political cause designed to change America, one grassroot at a time.”

Wait a minute. Isn’t that how this all started?

Susan Q. Stranahan

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Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.