(1st Add: Includes remarks by president of Christian Coalition)
Washington (CNSNews.com) - Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean Thursday alleged that Republicans offer a "dark, difficult and dishonest vision" of America and that President George W. Bush has been the "most ineffective" president in Dean's lifetime.
Addressing the liberal Take Back America political conference in Washington, D.C., Dean also asserted that Election Day voting delays of as long as eight hours affected Democratic voters much worse than Republican voters.
While Democratic supporters didn't have much time to stand in line because of their job commitments, Dean said, Republican voters didn't mind as much. "Republicans, I guess, can do that because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives," Dean said.
He also indirectly addressed one of the Democratic Party's greatest challenges - making inroads with voters in the South. President Bush swept the 13-state region in both the 2000 and 2004 elections.
Democrats should reach out to evangelical Christian voters for their support, Dean said, citing his party's compassion and the fact that Democrats have been "good stewards of the Lord's environment." Those reasons should be enough for evangelicals to switch their loyalty from the GOP to the Democratic Party, he said.
But Dean may have managed to further alienate the evangelical base when he observed that "some of the leadership of that community may be obsessed by gay rights and abortion ...
"[M]ost of evangelicals are just like every other American. They want to do the right thing for our children. We ought to not be ashamed or reluctant to reach out and get votes everywhere. We stand for honest government," he added.
When informed of Dean's comments, Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America, told Cybercast News Service that it's "great that he recognizes the fact that both Americans and evangelicals care about their children. And that's why our polls show that a majority of Americans do not want gay marriage and definitely partial birth abortion, and I'm glad that he recognizes that fact."
Dean attempted to instill post-presidential election optimism into the Take Back American conference participants, who are reeling from major defeats in the 2004, 2002 and 2000 national elections.
"This is an extraordinary opportunity for the Democrats. We suffered a couple of serious defeats but we are energized because we know that our vision for America is much better than the dark, difficult and dishonest vision that the Republican Party offers America," Dean said to raucous applause.
"It was depressing, it was discouraging we didn't win," he said. "We had four more years of the most ineffective presidency that this country has seen in my lifetime. But not once did the people in this room give up, not once. We are in this for the long haul. This is not about politics, this is about an extraordinary invention, it's about America," Dean told his audience.
Dean took a swipe at House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, for the Texas Republican's past involvement with lobbyists, which constitute ethics violations in the minds of many Democrats.
"They talk about the culture of life. What about the culture of corruption in Washington?" Dean asked.
"We have the leader of the Republican Party who the president has just endorsed as doing a fine job, the chairman of the Republican Party has just endorsed as doing a fine job. I actually think that is true, the Republican definition of doing a fine job is to be reprimanded three successive times for ethics violations," Dean said, referring to DeLay.
"That's how the Republicans do business," Dean added. "We need to get rid of the culture of corruption and the abuse of power in Washington."
Dean concluded his speech with an admonition to Democrats who might shy away from the liberal label.
"The one thing that we have to do as a Democratic Party is not be afraid to be different than the Republicans. Stand up for what we believe in," he said to a standing ovation.
"We are in this for the long haul. This is not about politics; this is about an extraordinary invention. It's about America," he added.
See Earlier Stories:
Politics, Math, Gospel Confuse Dem Political Operative (June 2, 2005)
Mayor-Elect: Not Enough Diversity at Liberal Conference (June 1, 2005)
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