Sunday, June 12, 2005

'Democratic chairman Howard Dean sounds moral theme, vows to fight''

Here's an excerpt from the story in the Washington Post tonight that should appear in tomorrow's Seattle Times: "WASHINGTON — Unrepentant after a week of controversy over some provocative remarks, Democratic chairman Howard Dean told party leaders yesterday that casting traditionally liberal issues in moral terms is a key to breaking Republicans' eight-year hold on the White House. Dean yesterday embraced his reputation for volatility, saying he is being buoyed by activists and donors. At one point, Chicago alderman Joseph Moore had trouble getting recognized and joked that next time, he would "jump up and down."

"That's my job!" Dean said, and the room shook with applause.

The Democratic National Committee's (DNC) lead pollster, Cornell Belcher, said that religious people who have been stymied economically represent a huge opportunity for the party and that the challenge is to portray moral values as "not just gay marriage and abortion." It amounted to a call for the party to reclaim Reagan Democrats, the blue-collar social conservatives who have voted largely Republican for the past 20 years. In a possible future play for President Bush's voters, the party announced the creation of a Veterans and Military Families Council. The party, determined to compete in what Dean called "the Mississippis and the Kansases," has vowed to put paid organizers with four-year commitments in every state and is starting a monthly donation program for small givers. Dean and the pollster provided the most specific blueprint yet for a party where a multitude of factions and potential candidates is competing to point the way back from John Kerry's loss to Bush, 19 states to 31 states.

We have not spoken about moral values in this party for a long time," Dean said. "The truth is, we're Democrats because of our moral values. It's a moral value to make sure that kids don't go to bed hungry at night ... It is a moral value not to go out on golf trips paid for by lobbyists."
Belcher, the pollster, said the emphasis many voters placed on moral values in November is "not a call to move to the right." He said a lot of what he called "faith voters" — those for whom religion plays an equal or more-important role in determining their vote than conventional issues such as education — "are up for grabs." He said they can be reached with policies that affect the raising of their children."

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