Democrat Party Chief Accuses Republicans of 'Race-Baiting'

Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:33pm EDT
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( - Howard Dean, the head of the Democratic National Committee, says Republicans are race-baiting when they bring up Sen. Barack Obama's long-time pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Dean refused to discuss Wright: "I think we've spent enough time on Reverend Wright," he told Chris Wallace.

Pressed on how the Wright's controversial comments might affect Democrats in local races across the nation, Dean said that Republicans for the last 30 years have used race-baiting, hate and divisiveness in an attempt to win elections. "In 2006, the American people said no to that, and I think they're going to say no to that in 2008," Dean said.

Dean said the American people "are tired of the divisiveness of what the Republicans have done to them, and that's why the Republicans are in trouble, deep trouble."

"Governor, are you suggesting that bringing up Jeremiah Wright is race baiting, and hate and divisive?" Chris Wallace asked.

"Yeah, I am suggesting that kind of stuff," Dean responded. "I think when you start bringing up candidates that have nothing to do with the issue -- when you start bringing up things that have nothing to do with the candidate and nothing to do with the issues, that's race baiting, and that's exactly what it is, just like Willie Horton was race baiting so many years ago.

"I think we're going to...turn the page on this stuff. I tell you, you know, there's a lot of difference between the Republicans and the Democrats on issues, but the biggest issue of all is we don't use this kind of stuff. We never have used this kind of stuff, and we're not going to start now."

Dean brushed aside a reminder that Obama himself said last week that Wright was a legitimate political issue.

"Well, he (Obama) can say whatever he wants. I'm going to say whatever I want. I'm not getting into Reverend Wright. He's caused enough trouble for our country over the last several weeks."

Dean said the American people want a united country: "For the first time in 30 years, they want us to stop hating each other. They want us to work together. And I think that's what the issue is. That's what our message is going to be. And we're not going to get into all this stuff about divisive figures. We're just not going to do it."

As of Monday, Obama was still taking questions about Jeremiah Wright. On "Fox & Friends," Obama repeated that the Rev. Wright doesn't speak for him.

On NBC's "Today" show, Obama explained he didn't disown Wright at first, because no one should be defined by a few "snippets taken over the course of a number of years." Obama said he wanted to give the Rev. Wright an opportunity to explain his comments -- and to recognize that he had offended the American people.

"And he chose instead to amplify and become even more aggressive...and that indicated to me that he wasn't maybe the person I thought he was, and I thought it was very important to make sure that people were absolutely clear that those weren't the things I stood for."

NBC's Matt Lauer asked Obama if the Wright issue goes to a larger question about Obama's judgment. Obama responded that everyone has soneone in their lives who has disappointed them. Obama said he should be judged by what he's done. And he said he's "always been about bringing people together, not dividing them."

Wright has made a number of controversial statements over the years. He suggested that the 9/11 terror attacks were America's foreign policy "chickens coming home to roost," and that the U.S. government may have manufactured the AIDS virus as a way of committing genocide against blacks.

Dems appearing on Fox programs

On "Fox News Sunday," Chris Wallace asked Dean why high-profile Democrats are suddenly appearing on Fox New programs. Obama appeared on "Fox News Sunday" last week, Hillary Clinton was on Bill O'Reilly's show last week, and Howard Dean appeared on "Fox News Sunday" yesterday.

"We stayed off Fox for a long time because your news department is, in fact, biased," Dean said.

"And we need to communicate with people who are going to vote in the Democratic Party," Dean admitted. "Hundreds of thousands of Republicans have turned their back on their own party to vote in the Democratic primaries in the last six months.

"We owe it to...all the American people to reach out to those folks. This is not about Fox News. That's not why I'm here today. I'm out because I want to talk to your viewers directly about why this election is important and what we can offer the American people."

See Earlier Stories:
Wright Is A Fair Election Issue, Say GOP Senators (2 May 2008)
Wright's Own 'Chickens Have Come Home to Roost,' Black Critics Say (30 Apr. 2008)
Golden Rule Explains Why U.S. Was Attacked, Says Wright (29 Apr. 2008)
Wright: U.S. 'Capable' of Inventing HIV for Genocide (28 Apr. 2008)
Wright Says Obama's Just Doing 'What Politicians Do' (29 Apr. 2008)

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