Dean makes campaign pitch to DNC

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(Host) Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean told members of the Democratic National Committee on Friday that his campaign is an effort to restore dignity to the United States. Dean says the time has come for Democrats to stand up for the core values they believe in.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Dean, whose campaign has been criticized by some of the moderate leadership of the Democratic Party for being too liberal, was warmly received by the DNC delegates.

Dean urged the members not to be silent on the core issues that define Democrats – like health care, the economy, civil rights, and the rights of workers. And he said it’s critical to provide basic rights to all individuals, regardless of the person’s sexual orientation.

Dean told the story of meeting an 80-year old veteran after delivering a speech about Vermont’s civil union law. The veteran, who had fought in World War II, told Dean that he was gay and he was glad to see Dean stand up for the rights of all Americans:

(Dean) “He was willing to give his life for the defense of freedom in the United States of America. His friends did give their lives for the defense of the western world. And if that guy doesn’t deserve exactly the same right as that everybody has when he gets back to this country, then we need a new administration who will give him that right!”

(Kinzel) Dean said his campaign has become a national effort to restore the values of working men and women across the country:

(Dean) “We are all in this together and you have the power to take this party back and make it believe and stand for something again. And you have the power to take this county back so that those flags belong to every American, including all of us. And we have the power to take the White House back in 2004 and together that is exactly what we’re going to do. Thank you very much.”

(Kinzel) Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who’s running second to Dean in recent New Hampshire polls, made it very clear to the delegates that he doesn’t support Dean’s plan to rescind all of the recent tax cuts supported by the president:

(Kerry) “Some in our party think you have to get rid of the whole Bush tax cut. Well let me tell you something: part of that Bush tax cut is the Democratic tax cut we fought for. Child care credits, we fought for a 10% bracket. We don’t want the Democratic Party telling America, ‘You get married, we’re going to charge you more in taxes!'”

(Kinzel) Kerry also criticized Dean for supporting cuts to the Medicare program in 1995, and the senator said he worked hard to restore some of those spending reductions at that time.

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

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