Dean Says Democrats Must Take Offensive
Burlington, Vt. - Howard Dean gives Republicans credit for one thing: They have put the Democrats on the defensive and forced them to fight on their turf. That, he said, is about to change.
"What the propagandists on the right have done is make people afraid to say they are Democrats," Dean told a gathering of Vermont Democrats. "We have to be out there. We have to be vocal. We have to be pushing our version of the facts because their version of the facts is very unfactual."
After visiting 30 states in the first six months as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Dean said Monday he has found "There are Democrats everywhere."
The key to success is making those Democrats proud of their party, Dean said, by taking the offensive and fighting on Democratic turf.
"We need a message. It has to be clear," he said. "The framing of the debate determines who wins the debate.
"Running away from issues is how you lose elections," said Dean, a former Vermont governor.
"We need to position ourselves as the party of change," he said. "I think we have learned that when big changes happen in the House and Senate, they happen because one party nationalizes the race and becomes the change agent."
Dean detailed his 50-state strategy to hire and finance from national coffers organizers in every state, saying that the party is on track to have organizers in every state by the end of the year.
"Vote by vote, precinct by precinct, door by door, year by year and election by election, we will take this country back for the people who built it," he said.
In his speech Dean talked about the growing diversity in America and how well that diversity meshes with the message and membership of the Democratic Party.
"The face of the Democratic Party is such that it looks like all of America will look in 2050," said Dean.
Dean's speech Monday night came at a fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee.
Among those attending were US Sens. Patrick Leahy and Jim Jeffords, as well as US Rep. Bernie Sanders, who is seeking Jeffords' seat in the Senate. Both Jeffords and Sanders are independents but both caucus in Washington with the Democrats.
State Sen. Peter Welch, a candidate for Sanders' House seat, spoke at the reception, as did Scudder Parker, who is challenging the re-election next year of Gov. Jim Douglas.