Thursday, February 08, 2007

"Dean rallies young voters"

Delaware State News:
DOVER - If Democrats are going to recapture and hold on to the White House, young people must get involved in politics now at the local and national level, the party's top official said Wednesday.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean urged Delaware State University students to help the party continue the success it enjoyed in the November elections, when it took over the majority in both chambers of Congress.

"Young people voted overwhelmingly for Democrats in the 2006 election," Mr. Dean told a crowd of more than 200 comprised mainly of DSU and Wesley College students.

"We need to get you folks out (to vote) one more time, young people all across the spectrum, but particularly young African-American men. That is a group of folks that had not voted for a long time.

"(Young people are) the Democratic majority that's going to fuel the country in the future."
Mr. Dean said young people are changing the way campaigns are run, now focusing more on two-way communication.

"It's not enough to have somebody come on television and tell you why you should vote for them," he said. "You want to make sure they hear you."

During a 35-minute speech and question-and-answer segment, Mr. Dean, 58, rallied the young Democrats to knock on doors, hand out campaign literature and even run for office.

"I don't expect all of you to quit your jobs and work for the party," Mr. Dean said. "I do hope there are four or five people here who will run for office."

Mr. Dean also spoke about his 50-state strategy, which focuses on seeding the local level of state governments with young and committed candidates who would become candidates in future state races.

Democrats, he said, had become "a little lazy" during the past 30 years, not maintaining a constant presence throughout the country, leaving Republicans to fill in the blanks about Democrats.

"When I took over this chairmanship, I decided we would be everywhere in every single state," the former Vermont governor said.

"We would be there for every single day out of the four-year cycle and the day we would get to work after the election would be the very next day."

That included conservative states such as Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah, he said.

Even though those states likely won't help Democrats win the White House in 2008, Mr. Dean said the party is not going "to win the presidential election in 2020" without them.

"We have to start now. It takes time," he told the crowd, which included Democratic elected officials Lt. Gov. John C. Carney, Treasurer Jack A. Markell, Attorney General Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III and Wilmington City Council President Theodore Blunt.

DSU student James Poland, who was "pushed" by a friend to attend Wednesday's speech, took Mr. Dean's message to get young black men out to vote to heart.

"It's important for people to vote," Mr. Poland said. "I voted last year, but many of my friends didn't."

Mr. Poland added that he was surprised when Mr. Dean's appearance was announced, expecting the DNC chairman to visit the University of Delaware instead.

After the speech, Mr. Dean met briefly with some Democratic officials, including Kent County party chair Abby Betts.

Ms. Betts said the former presidential candidate congratulated her on her party's successes in the November elections - Democrats took over Kent County Levy Court, turning a 4-3 minority into a 5-2 majority.

"I don't think the national chairman has ever been to Kent County before," Ms. Betts said.

"You can't help but be fired up now."

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