Dean announces new advocacy organization

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(Host) Former governor Howard Dean officially launched his new advocacy organization Thursday afternoon in Seattle. Dean says the group, which will be known as Democracy for America, will encourage grassroots support for many of the issues that Dean raised during his presidential campaign.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Sound of crowd cheering as Dean approaches the podium.)

(Kinzel) Dean’s speech to a group of several hundred supporters in a hotel ballroom in downtown Seattle was very reminiscent of his standard campaign stump speech when he was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Dean charged that Bush’s presidency has been a failure because the president’s policies have been a disaster for the economy, have undermined efforts to deliver health care coverage to all Americans, and have resulted in foreign policy initiatives that have eroded this country’s support with many key allies.

While Dean is strongly supporting senator Kerry’s bid to become president, he also said his new organization would continue to put pressure on national Democrats to offer strong alternatives to the “reckless right wing” policies of the Republicans:

(Dean, from speech) “We’re going to start today and we’re not going to stop in November when John Kerry becomes the next president! We’re not going to stop when we get Tom DeLay back to Houston! We’re going to keep at it because we know what happens when in Washington once they get there – they get cozy. And it’s your job to make sure that never again will the Democratic Party lay down and die and stop fighting for what we believe in! Thank you very much!” (Sound of crowd cheering, applauding.)

(Kinzel) In an interview with Vermont Public Radio following his speech, Dean said the primary goal of his new organization is to help elect candidates in state and congressional races all across the country:

(Dean) “Energizing the grassroots and getting them involved in local people running for office, getting them actually to run for office themselves. These are all things that we want them to be part of and we want to raise some money, partner with other organizations and train people, recruit them and get them to run. We also do want to make a difference in the congressional races and – obviously I’m going to be supporting John Kerry for president – but we really want grassroots democracy to come back to this country.”

(Kinzel) Dean says he sees his role as CEO of this new organization:

(Dean) “I’m not going to make any money out of this. I’m going to draw a salary elsewhere, giving paid speeches and things like that. I’m going to write a book, also. But my role is going to be to chair the organization, to be speaking on behalf of candidates, trying to raise money and of course to speak to grassroots organizations around the country.”

(Kinzel) Dean hopes to raise at least $5 million in the coming months to help his organization provide financial support for congressional and state candidates throughout the country.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

Audio of Dean’s speech in Seattle is online.

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