"I've been saying that I thought we ought to turn the party over to a younger person for a long time," Dean said in an interview on MSNBC. "I made this decision two or three weeks ago."
He said that he did not want the race to become a "Hillary versus Bernie proxy fight," noting his own support for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), another contender for the DNC chair position, supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Dean said that he was not yet ready to endorse a candidate in the race, but "may or may not make an endorsement down the line."
"I do not support Keith as long as he has his congressional seat," he added. "I do not believe at all that you can do this job and do another job in Congress at the same time. So I don't support Keith. Maybe I will later but I don't now."
Dean made the initial announcement that he was dropping out in a pre-recorded video at a meeting of state party chairs in Denver, Colorado. His withdrawal from the race came just a day after the Anti-Defamation League spoke out against Ellison's candidacy, citing newly surfaced comments from Ellison about U.S. foreign policy and Israel as "disturbing and disqualifying" in a statement.