Democratic National Committee Winter Meeting

Washington, DC, Feb 12, 2005

Browse the transcript by topic

Read the non-narrated, Dean-only transcript

The Meeting Comes To Order

Terry McAuliffe

[DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe gavels the meeting to order.]

Terry McAuliffe: If everyone could immediately take your seats.

[He bangs the gavel several more times]

McAuliffe: If everybody in the aisle here would please take your seats, we will begin our meeting.

[Cutaway to the floor full of DNC members. The Democratic cats are still wandering and milling around.]

[Eventually the cats settle.]

McAuliffe: I hereby call the meeting of the Democratic National Committee, the world's oldest, greatest continuing political party, to order. [He gavels]

The Opening Prayer

Terry McAuliffe: It gives me great honor... it gives me great honor to bring to the podium a spectacular woman, the Reverend Willie Barrow. For those of you who do not know this marvelous woman, she has spent her entire life on the front lines of the civil rights struggle. One of her key roles was a field organizer for the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the major civil rights marches and demonstrations, including the legendary march in Selma, Alabama.


During the 1960's, Reverend Barrow was among the founding members of Operation Breadbasket, a program that provided spiritual guidance and practical assistance to communities in need. Currently, Reverend Barrow serves as co-chairperson of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, and is an associate minister of God Church in Chicago.

Rev. Willie Barrow

Would you please welcome Reverend Barrow, and stand.

[Applause, and everyone stands]

Reverend Barrow: Thank you, thank you. Would you remain standin'?

And we goin' to do something a little different this morning, we ask you to join hands, which represents connection.

And just for a moment, we just going to be in silence for Ozzie Davis, whose funeral... who is being funeralized at this moment.

[All bow their heads, hands joined, in silence.]

Let us pray.

God of our weary years.
God of our silent tears.
Thou who has brought us thus far along the way.
We come today seeking fellowship and relationships,
through your power and your peaceful presence, in a culture that's filled with divisiveness and disconnectedness and domination.
We pause for a moment of connection that will bring wholeness and healing to our world and to ourselves.

Oh God, liberate us from the domination of individual and institutional violence!

Liberate us for the ministry of deliverance to the captives, within and without.
Liberate us from a self-centered spiritual materialism,

and liberate us to serve the present.
Liberate us from building our kingdoms,
and liberate us for the kingdom of God,
through human instrumentality.

Oh, God, we thank you for this gathering,
and we ask that thou would come in,
give us divine guidance.
Now, we thank you for your liberating love,
that redeems us and restores us, and revives us!

Lord, we realize that we are not so much divided, as we are disconnected.
So bind us.
Connect us.
Bring us together, and lead this DNC as the past DNC.
Lord, we thank you for the Chairman of the past DNC, for what he has done, and the whole staff. And now we thank you for the new people.

Let us work together, instead of working apart.
Let us have the ability to communicate, talk with each other.
And Lord, we can disagree, and don't have to be disagreeable.

We give you the thanks and the praise right now,
in the name of our Lord and Savior we pray,
let us all say,

[The DNC members seat themselves, applauding softly]

The Election of the New Chair

Outgoing DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe: ...At this time, we will move for the election of Chair of the Democratic National Committee.


McAuliffe: Secretary Germand (sp) has informed me that the nominating statements were filed pursuant to the rules of procedure; that we only have one candidate running for Chair of the Democratic National Committee, former Governor Howard Dean of Vermont.

[Applause and cheers. The audience stands up to applaud.]

McAuliffe: Governor Dean is entitled to ten minutes for nominating and seconding speeches. The Chair will now recognize [he chuckles slightly, as Webb was just up there a moment ago] the distinguished former Mayor from Denver, Colorado, outgoing Vice-Chair Mayor Wellington Webb to do the nominating speech for Governor Dean.

Wellington Webb

Former Mayor Wellington Webb: Terry, this first 30 seconds does not count against Governor Dean's time, 'cause I forgot to do something. [Points offstage] Helen, don't count this. If you do, all the women in here will be angry with you. I forgot to introduce my wife... [chuckles from audience] ...the honorable former state representative from Colorado, my wife, Wilma Webb is also here. I want to recognize her.

[She stands, and receives applause]

Webb: I'm pleased to be here to place in nomination the name of Governor Howard Dean of Vermont to be the next Chair for the Democratic National Committee.


In the West, we like straight talk, we like to know what we can expect, and that's what we respect.

I asked these questions after I was no longer running. I asked the question, 'who was the first one to take on George Bush when he was running for President?' It was Howard Dean. I asked the question, 'who was the one to exercise and energize the grass roots of our party?' It was Howard Dean. I asked the question, 'who was the one who showed us how to raise money on the Internet?' It was Howard Dean. I asked the question, 'who is not Republican-lite?' It was Howard Dean.

And so, I said, 'you know, a lot has been made of Howard's voice, as well.' And on occasion, he raises it. However, what people really didn't think about, is that most of all, Howard Dean listens. And he listens to the voices of average Americans and has a passion for America. I know that you know as well as I do, that we need someone that's a fighter. Someone that's gonna fight for this party.

I'd like you to hear now what some of those voices have to say about Howard Dean, as we collectively place in nomination the name of Howard Dean as Chair of this party. Someone that is a fighter and a leader, and will carry us to victories in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.



"We Are Democrats"

Man #1: I believe in the Democratic Party. I believe that this is the party of the common people. This is the party of hope.

Woman #1: Real people are the issues of the Democratic Party.

Man #2: I wish you fairness, and I wish you equality, and I wish you opportunity, and that's why I believe that our party, the Democratic Party, is the party of aloha.

Man #3: I believe that every American oughtta have a fair shake.

Man #4: This party is about inclusion. It's about fighting for the average person in this country.

Man #5: The right wing does not have a monopoly on family values.

Man #6: And the values that are best for families come from Democrats.

Man #3: I simply don't think that the other party has an economic policy that will enable any group of Americans to fare well.

Man #7: There's no one among us who is unimportant.

Woman #2: We do have a responsibility for those beyond ourselves.

Man #7: It's what made us famous as a party, and that's-- we provide hope.

Woman #3: Being a young Democrat is an exciting time.

Woman #1: I'm delighted to be a liberal. What's wrong with it?

Man #2: I'm so glad and proud to be a Democrat.

"Taking a Stand"

Woman #4: I think everything about Howard Dean is what we need as a leader.

Woman #5: At this time in our history, we need somebody with the kind of enthusiasm and commitment that Dr. Dean has.

Man #2: When it comes to fairness, when it comes to equality, it comes to opportunity, I feel that Governor Dean is the man for us.

Man #5: Number one, Howard Dean shows up to places like Utah, and he's not afraid to do that.

Man #7: Governor Dean has found his way to Indian country when so many others have found a way around it.

Man #8: Governor Dean was the first governor in this country, I think, to acknowledge that all families, whatever they look like, are entitled to equal rights.

Woman #6: Howard Dean is totally and absolutely committed to working families and their issues. He is always the one to stand up and speak out. And not talk about just the problems, but talk about the solutions.

Woman #3: As the Chairman, as the head of the Party, I think Howard Dean brings the grassroots with him. That's who Howard Dean is.

Man #6: And he's a fighter. He's going to take the fight to them, and you know what? It's gonna be great.

Woman #2: Let's talk about what's the real definition of a mandate? I think he has one from the Democratic Party.

"The Future"

Woman #7: The party's got to stand up for what it believes in. If you're liberal, say that you're liberal. If you believe in something, say it. You do not back down from your belief in your values.

Man #2: Enough group therapy. Now it's time to just, you know, we got the playbook, we're gonna employ our new coach, and now now it's time for the team to get together.

Woman #6: I want a party that is partnered with other parts of the progressive movement and really represents the best in all Americans in our communities. I want a party that is not just in Washington, but is in all of our communities across our country. In red states and blue states. 'Cause I would say that all together, we're purple states.

Man #5: I think that there needs to be a 50 state strategy.

Woman #1: You need to go from hardware store to hardware store, from farm to farm, from local cafe to local cafe, to talk to the people and be connected and be in touch and be in synch.

Man #4: We can't limit our view of the future in election cycles. We have to be in it for the long haul.

Man #6: You know, let's just roll up our sleeves, that's what politics is-- roll up your sleeves, hard work. Let's get out there, and get our message out there.

Woman #1: I don't think we should lean towards the right to meet their issues, or to confront them even. I think we need to hang on to what belongs to us.

Man #6: Let's just do what Democrats do best, and we'll be just fine. We'll be great.

Man #2: I'm Brickwood Delataria (sp), Chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

Woman #3: My name is Alexis Tamero. I am from the great state of Arizona.

Man #8: I'm Jeff Sora from New York.

Woman #7 My name is Wanda Lockridge, I'm from Washington, D.C.

Man #4: Yo soy John Perez de California. [I am John Perez of California.]

Woman #1: I'm Judy Olson Newhammel. I'm from Rapid City, South Dakota.

Man #1: My name is Raul Martinez, I'm the mayor of Hialeah, Florida.

Man #5: My name is Donald Dunn and I'm chairman of the Utah Democratic Party.

Man #3: I'm Redding Pitt from Birmingham, Alabama.

Woman #5: My name is Bell Leong Hong. I am from Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Man #7: My name is Frank LaMere. I'm a member of the Democratic National Committee at-large. I'm a member of the Winnebago tribe of Nebraska.

Woman #6: I'm Marie Precioso from West Virginia.

Woman #7: I'm Martha Dixson, I'm from Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Man #6: My name is Ed Smith, I'm a at-large member of the Democrat National Committee. I'm from Illinois, and I'm supporting a fighter for our party, Howard Dean.

Jeff Sora: ...And I'm supporting Howard Dean for Chair of the party.

Donald Dunn: I'm proud to support Howard Dean as our next chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Brickwood Delateria: I'm endorsing and supporting Governor Dean.

Wanda Lockridge: I support Howard Dean for the Chair of the National Democratic Committee.

Martha Dixson: I support Howard Dean because I think he's the best person for the job.

John Perez: Yo apoyo a Howard Dean para ser el siguente lider de nuestro partido. [I support Howard Dean to be the next leader of our party.]

Martha Dixson: [?] around here, he energizes me. He's just unbelievable, and I think he's gonna make this party really come alive. I can't wait! I just can't wait and see what's going to happen.

[End Video]


McAuliffe: And now I'd like to introduce up to the podium, the chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, and the former president of the Young Democrats of America, Mr. Jay Parmalee.

Jay Parmalee

Jay Parmalee: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I'm Jay Parmalee, chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party. I'm also one of the first people that jumped out there publicly to support Howard Dean for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Now, I took just a little bit of heat for doing that, both at home and abroad. But, I'm an Oklahoman, so what do you expect for someone from Oklahoma? We're 'sooners'! we jump the gun all the time! But I also bet that you didn't know that in Oklahoma, we elect Democrats as well, up and down the ballot. And we can continue to elect Democrats in Oklahoma.


There are two reasons-- two-- why I decided Howard Dean should be the Chair of this Party. First, he was a Governor. Every day, Governors all across America and in Oklahoma-- Democratic Governors-- have to make tough decisions, balance budgets, and keep states running. That means sometimes, as a Governor, they have to take unpopular, make unpopular decisions. But they do what's right. And Howard Dean isn't afraid to do what's right.


The other reason that I support Howard Dean is because Vermont and Oklahoma are both rural states. Howard Dean 'gets it.' He understands what's important to small-town America and rural America. He understands what it takes to win in places like Oklahoma, Utah, Montana. We Democrats must win races up and down the ballot in all fifty states and territories, and Governor Dean will make sure that we have the investment and resources to do that.


He's got what it takes to lead and he knows what it takes to win. It's for those reasons, and it's for our collective future, that I'm pleased to nominate Governor Howard Dean as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

[Cheers and Applause]

McAuliffe: For another seconding speech, I would like to bring up to the podium a great DNC member from South Carolina, Gilda Cobb-Hunter to come up here and do a seconding speech.

Gilda Cobb-Hunter

Cobb-Hunter: Hey, y'all.

I'm Gilda Cobb-Hunter from South Carolina and and I am proud and honored to stand here today for Howard Dean and to second his nomination as the DNC Chair. Lemme just tell you why I'm supporting Howard Dean.

Because I am really sick and tired of a bandaid party putting a bandaid solution in the things that we have going wrong in this country. I believe very strongly that with Howard Dean, we will have-- and this is with all due respect, to all of the wonderful minds here in Washington, D.C.

But you know, a few years ago-- I'm a state legislator. I'm a former leader of the House in South Carolina, and a few years ago at a congress, they did something called "devolution". Well, we think it's about time that the DNC did "devolution" and passed power down to the states. With Howard Dean, we believe that that is what will happen.

My first political experience is as much of y'all out here, and that's licking envelopes, driving people to the polls, those kind of grunt, mundane things that we all tend to do. Howard Dean, as did Terry McAuliffe, appreciates and values that kind of contribution. I believe very strongly that with Howard Dean as Chair of the DNC, we will see a continuing appreciation and an enhancement of the work at the grassroots level, and all of the important work that all of us have come through the years doing.

Lemme conclude by suggesting to you that when we talk about leadership in the Democratic Party, we want to make sure that we continue the mold that has already been established by men who've been here before, men like Don Fowler, men like Ron Brown, men like Terry McAuliffe, who don't run away from a fight. Howard Dean is that kind of guy.


The other thing I want to make sure you understand-- I grew up in Gifford Florida, and in the South we have a little saying, called "make it plain". I think we can all rest assured that with Howard Dean, he will "make it plain" in a way that we all understand. So I'm proud to stand here, and stand for Howard Dean. I look forward to working with him in any way that I can, and I urge all of you out there to roll up your sleeves and to continue working for Democrats across this country, because we have just begun. Thank you so much.


McAuliffe: Thank you, Gilda.

The Chair now recognizes from the great state of California, the Vice-Chair of the state party, Alexandra Gallardo-Rooker, for another final seconding speech. Alexandra! [reaches out his hand in a "come on up" gesture]

Alexandra Gallardo-Rooker

Gallardo-Rooker: Good morning Mr. Chairman, Democrats, honored and distinguished guests. Brothers and sisters.

Soy una Latina, y nacio' en la sidal(ph)(Ciudad?) de Mexico, y vin a esta pais muy pequena. Siento mucho argullo en nominar al Gobernador Howard Dean de presidente de este Comite' Nacional Democraticivo. El sera' un representante para todo los Americanos y todo los grupos ethnicos.
[I am a Latina, and I was born in (Mexico City?) and I came to this country [when I was] very small. I feel much joy in nominating Governor Dean for president of this Democratic National Committee. He will be a representative for all Americans, and all ethnic groups.]

Brothers and sisters, I'm sick and tired of hearing the so-called "experts" say there's something wrong with the Democrats, and that we have to move to the right if we ever hope to regain control of the House and the White House. The truth is, we have nothing to apologize for, and we're not movin'!


When ya do something wrong, you build on your mistake, and ya keep on building. The only thing the current administration in the White House continues to build is more mistakes. Our Democratic Party has made our country great, and collectively we will be even greater with the leadership of Howard Dean.

My friend, Howard Dean, is a proud Democrat. From Vermont to California, Oregon to Florida, Howard reminds us of how great of a party we are, and how even greater we can be. He never fails to remind his audiences of why the Democratic Party is the only choice to lead this country in the 21st century. With Howard Dean as DNC Chair, there is no doubt that our party will be represented by the very best. We know Howard Dean will make every vote count. Every voter will want to be counted!

My father taught me as a child, 'Always dance with the one that brought you.' I ask you to join me in going to the dance and bringing Howard Dean and goin' across these United States and taking back the majority in the Senate and in Congress. And we're gonna come right back around and win the White House.

As a proud officer and member of the Communications Workers of America Local 9400, and Vice-Chair of the California Democratic Party, it is my great honor to place the name for Chair of this great Democratic National Committee-- Howard Dean!

[Cheers and applause]

"the Chair would accept a motion..."

McAuliffe: That concludes the nominating and seconding speeches for Governor Dean. We are about to move to a vote. At this time, the Chair would accept a motion to suspend the rules and elect Governor Howard Dean as Chair of the Democratic National Committee by acclamation.

[Someone shouts from the audience]

McAuliffe: So moved. Is there a second?

[Several voices are heard shouting their seconds]

McAuliffe: Any discussion? All those in favor of the motion signify by saying 'aye'.

Audience: Aye!

McAuliffe: Any of those nays?


McAuliffe: [Bangs his gavel on the podium] Howard Dean is elected Chair of the Democratic National Committee!

[Audience rises, cheering, to give a standing ovation]

McAuliffe: Ladies and gentlemen, let's hear it for Governor Dean!

[Many members of the audience vigorously wave little flags, as others chant, "Dean! Dean! Dean!"]

Howard Dean's Speech

[Dean walks up onstage and greets all the members of the DNC leadership with smiles and hugs, as the audience continues to cheer. Then he returns to the podium, with McAuliffe standing alongside.]

Dean: [To audience] Thank you! Thank you. [repeated several times, hardly audible over the audience.]

[The audience continues cheering for at least a minute. Someone holds up a T-shirt with a large "Dean For America" logo on it.]

Dean: Thank you. My goodness!

[Audience finally quiets.]

Dean: Thank you very much.

Someone in Audience: Thank you Howard!

[Dean chuckles. There are several cheers and whoops from the audience.]

Dean: Well, if you had told me a year ago that I'd be standing here doing this as your choice for Democratic-- Chairman of the National Committee, I would not have believed you-- and neither would a lot of other people.

[Audience laughs]

I really want to thank you for the opportunity to lead this party. It is an extraordinary honor and I'm very thankful and grateful. I'm humbled, and I'm ready to go to work.

[Cheers and applause. Cutaway to McAuliffe applauding enthusiastically too.]

This... this is the first race for Democratic National Committe Chair truly driven by the grassroots of the party. And I--

" is our chairmanship..."


I want you to know that this is not my Chairmanship. It is our chairmanship.


You've given me enormous responsibility, but it's a responsibility that we share. We can change the party, but only by working together and competing in all 50 states and territories. [Cheers and applause] We can change the party, but only by working together and becoming a national party again. We can change this party, but only by working together at the local level, because if we want to win nationally we have to start by winning locally.


With your help, I'm certain that today will not mark the end of the process of selecting a DNC chair; today will be the beginning of the reemergence of the Democratic Party.


We have a lot of work to do. We have a bright future, exemplified by other candidates, the other candidates who had joined me in this race, and I want to thank all these great Democrats for having competed, 'cause I learned something from every one of them. [Points to someone off camera] I thank you [inaudible-- "wes"?]


"...he has given this party so much..."

[speaks slowly and emphatically] And I want to thank Terry McAuliffe. He has given... [Applause] ...He has given this party so much, every waking day for the past four years of his chairmanship, and he's given us something else. A party in strong financial shape, with an infrastructure to meet the challenges of the future. This is no small gift.

I can't tell you how ironic it is for us to be side by side two years later, and me telling you that I have learned a great deal from a man I am proud to call my friend, and every Democrat in this room owes an enormous debt to Chairman Terry McAuliffe. Thank you so very much.

[Applause. McAuliffe gets up from his chair and he and Dean shake hands warmly.]

Dean: We're gonna build on his work. Among the first things I will do is to establish a budget and finance committee that's inclusive. [Scattered cheers and applause]

I want to thank others as well. Most important, my family-- I would not be here, not only without their support, or their belief in a more just and fair America. And I want to thank my wife Judy for her patience, and her love, and she is here today. Judy, would you please stand and be recognized?

Dr. Judy Steinberg Dean

[There are cheers and applause. Judy stands up briefly, smiling bashfully, then goes to sit right back down again.]

Dean: [coaxingly] Stand up.

[Judy stands back up, smiling broadly. The audience comes to their feet as they continue to applaud her.]

Dean: And I also want to thank all the incredibly hardworking people who worked in the campaign. This was a much bigger deal than I realized it was when we started out. And I want to thank all those folks who worked so hard in the campaign for DNC Chair as well.

We know that we're the party of the big tent and the new idears in this country. We know that we're the party for young Americans looking for a government that speaks to them. We know that we're the party for working Americans desperate for a government that looks out for them. We know that we are the party for older Americans and veterans and members of the armed services expecting and deserving a government that honors them.


And we know that no matter where you live, or who you are, or what you look like, or how you worship, that ours is the diverse party that welcomes all Americans.


But right now, as important as all of that is, it's not enough. We have to move forward. We cannot win if all we are is 'against' the current President and his Administration. Republicans wandered around in the political wilderness for 40 years before they took back Congress. But the reason that we lost control is because we forgot why we were entrusted with that control in the first place.


The American people cannot afford to wait for 40 more years for us to put Washington back to work for them. It cannot take us that long. And it won't take us that long, not if we stand up for what we believe in, organize at the local level and recognize that this party's strength does not come from the consultants down, it comes from the grassroots up.

[Cheers and applause]

The first thing we have to do is stand up for what we believe in. This week the Republicans introduced a 2 1/2 trillion budget that deliberately conceals the cost of their fiscal recklessness. The budget does not account for the cost of the war in Iraq. It does not account for their agenda of privatizing Social Security. It cuts education, cuts children's health, cuts veterans' benefits, and cuts community policing, and as far as I'm concerned this budget does two things. It brings Enron-style accounting to the nation's capitol...

[audience boos Enron, then cheers and applauds Dean]

Dean: ...and it demonstrates once again that what Americans-- all Americans are now beginning to see-- you cannot trust Republicans with your money.

[Cheers and applause]

The Republicans know the America they want, and they are not afraid to use any means to get there. But there is something that this Administration and the Republican Party are very afraid of. It is that we may actually begin fighting for what we believe-- fiscally responsible, socially progressive values for which Democrats have always stood, and fought. We are what we believe.


Democrats believe in fiscal responsibility and we are the ones who have delivered it. The first time that our nation balanced its budget, it was Andrew Jackson, the founder of the Democratic Party, who did it, and the last time the nation balanced its budget, it was Bill Clinton who did it--


Dean: --Democratic governors do it every single year. Not one Republican President has balanced a budget in nearly 40 years. Borrow and spend, borrow and spend, borrow and spend-- Americans cannot trust Republicans with taxpayers' money.

[Cheers and applause. Many people, including the DNC officers on the stage, stand up to clap.]

Americans want a strong and smart national security policy. It was the Democrats who pushed to create a Department of Homeland Security. It was the Democrats who pushed to make our airlines safer. It is the Democrats who are now looking to make sure that we close the remaining gaps in our security. It was the Democrats who demanded reform of the intelligence community, and it is the Democrats who are pushing for a foreign policy that honestly deals with the threats of today and the threats of tomorrow, such as securing nuclear materials around the world. Republicans had to be dragged kicking and screaming to our side on all these issues. There is no reason for Democrats to be defensive on national defense.


We believe that a good job is the foundation for a strong family, a strong community, and a strong country. We're going to work to create good high-paying here in America, but we are going to keep those high-paying jobs here in America.


And there no reason, ever, for us to apologize for being willing to stand up for our belief that Americans who get up and go to work every single day have the right to join a union.

[Applause, most stand to applaud]

We believe that every American ought to have access to affordable health care. It is wrong that we remain the only industrialized nation on the face of the earth that does not assure health for all its citizens, particularly our children.


And I am so proud of Democratic Governors who have advanced health care to many, many children in their states. It is one of the biggest differences between Republican governors and Democratic governors in this country, if you look at the number of kids who have health insurance. We can and will do better than that, particularly with 38 governors' races up in 2006. We're gonna take back those state houses and get health insurance for our kids.


We believe that the path to a better future goes directly through the public school system. [Applause] We believe that every American has a voice and that it should be heard in the halls of power every day. And we believe that it ought to be heard by guaranteeing open and fair elections on [pointedly] Election Day.


And we believe that a lifetime of work earns you a retirement of dignity. We will not, we will not, let that be put at risk by leaders who continually invent false crises to justify policies that don't work.


In this case, borrowing from our children and shredding our country's social safety net in the process. The President's plan does nothing to ensure Social Security's future. But it will cut benefits. And it will cost an estimated two trillion dollars.

According to the Center On Budget and Policy Priorities, the American people will have to borrow 4.5 trillion dollars to finance the privatization of Social Security in the first 20 years alone. Most Americans, of course, have never seen anything like $2 trillion, so let me give you a sense of how much money that is. There are 118 million people in America under the age of 30. That means borrowing nearly $45,000 in each of their name, and that is a legacy of debt that our children do not deserve.


Social Security is one of the most-- one of the proudest achievements of the Democratic Party, and we will not let it fall victim to a dishonest scheme that only serves to heap greater debt on our children. We will not do that.

Democrats will set the agenda. We're gonna work very closely with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, and our Democratic governors and local officials to do exactly that. I met with Speaker-to-be Pelosi and Leader-- [Applause] -- and Majority Leader-to-be Reid this past week, and we're looking forward to standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the battles ahead. We are gonna need to be united, and we need to be organized. Really organized. We frame the issues. The Republicans will not tell America what the Democratic agenda is, we will do that.


Organizing means raising money not just from big donors but small contributors, not just through dinners and telephone solicitations and direct mail but through Internet and person-to-person outreach. Organizing means transforming us into a party that can communicate with all supporters and all Americans. Because all Americans are potential supporters of what we believe in. Politics is at its best when we create and inspire a sense of community. The tools that were pioneered in our campaign, like blogs and MeetUps and community-building, are just a start. We're gonna use the power and potential of technology as a part of an aggressive outreach to meet and include voters. To work with your state parties and get our unified message out. We can't run 18-state Presidential campaigns and expect to win. You know we have a strategy...

"Show up."


...You know we have a strategy for every state and territory, and it's very simple. Show up.


People will vote for Democrats in Texas and Utah and West Virginia if we knock on their door, introduce ourselves, tell them what we believe and that is what organization allows us to do.


All the idears in the world won't matter if people don't see our idears as relevant to them, or the political process as connected to them. So we're gonna recognize that our strength does reside in the communities. [If] we're gonna take our country back for everyday working Americans, Democrats will have to match or exceed Republican ability to motivate voters.

[Archly:] Now you may find this hard to believe, but I am not much of a Zen person. I have found, however, that the path to power is to trust others with it. There have been a lot of things written about our campaign for President, and many things copied by other campaigns. The one thing they didn't copy is the one thing we can offer. We can empower people at the local level, give them the authority to make decisions, and to do the right thing. Trust them. If you trust voters, they will trust us. And the Republicans will never, ever be able to do that.


Standing up for our beliefs, organizing, and transforming our party into grassroots organizations that can win everywhere. That's how we'll rebuild this party. We will rebuild this party because we are the party of reform and change. Republicans can stop progress, but only Democrats can start it again. [Applause] We will build our party because our greatest strength is something the Republicans cannot and never will match-- the extraordinary diversity represented in this room.


Look around. We look like America. We are America.

Republicans stop progress, Democrats start progress. It is gonna take a lot of work, and I'm gonna be asking for a lot from all of you. This is not my Chairmanship, this is our chairmanship.

Election by election, state by state, precinct by precinct, door by door, vote by vote, year after year, we are gonna take this country back for the people who built it.

Thanks very much.

[Standing ovation. McAuliffe joins Dean behind the podium and they wave and smile.]

[Terry McAuliffe stays and runs the remaining DNC officer elections so that Governor Dean can do other business.]

Press Conference With Howard Dean

Narrator: Immediately following the Chairman's speech, Howard Dean held a news conference to talk about his initial plans. He met with reporters for about ten minutes.

[Dean enters. Walking up to the podium, he looks over the room full of reporters.]

Dean: That's more people than I've seen in about two years.

[some chuckles from the reporters]

[Someone claps. Dean chuckles and gestures toward them]

Dean: True Democratic-- this must be one of the bloggers over there, right?

[more chuckles]

Dean: I'm happy to take que-- I don't have an opening statement. Speech speaks for itself. [pointing to a reporter] Sure.

Reporter #1: [inaudible] Mr. Chairman [inaudible]

Dean: [inaudible] No, that's fine.


Reporter #2: You seem more subdued...

[Dean and the other reporters laugh]

Dean: It would be hard to be less subdued, wouldn't it?

Reporter #2: [inaudible] even when you were campaigning for the Chairmanship, this stylistically a new you, [inaudible]?

Dean: Ah, I don't do... as I said, I'm not a Zen person, it's hard to answer "stylistic" questions. I-- you know, I am who I am, and... I suspect we'll see a fair amount of each other, so you, you'll just have to figure that one out for yourself. It's not intentional.

Reporter #3: Governor.

Dean: Yeah.

Reporter #3: Governor, a lot of the DNC members say that what sealed the deal for them with you was your pledge not to run in 2008...

Dean: Mm hm.

Reporter #3: Did you get that sense as you went along, that that was the deal-sealer in a lot of ways?

Dean: I actually didn't get that sense, but I didn't poll the DNC members about why they were supporting us, and I am not gonna run in 2008. So, [shrug] I don't-- I can't tell you what was in the mind of every DNC member when they decided to support me. [Points to a reporter]

Reporter #4: Governor, you said that you will pick a diverse transition team, and that we'll see you [inaudible] talk. Are you going to put an evangelical Christian on your transition team?

Dean: You know that's a good question. We haven't gotten that far yet, but we are definitely gonna be doing religious outreach and... I have for a long time, even when I was running for President, had an interest in reaching out to the evangelical community. There are evangelicals who were involved in our campaign-- my campaign for President. There are evangelicals who consider themselves Democrats, some of whom I am personally acquainted with, and others I know by reputation. So we will definitely seek to reach out, based on the deep moral principles of the Democratic Party, to the evangelical community. [Points to a reporter]

Reporter #5: How do you expect Governor, to go more into the-- outside of the evangelicals-- more into the South, and to the West, and make that a part of your campaign?

Dean: Well, I think that I will pretty much be-- to the extent that this job is on the road, and Terry's told me most of it is on the road, I think I'll probably be living in red states in the South and the West for quite a while. I think that's where we need a lot of work. I think that's where the people are who are most sceptical about the Democratic Party, and I think the way to get people not to be sceptical about you is to show up and talk. And say what you believe. I have a lot of experience with that as a governor in most rural-- the most rural parts of America, and I think we need to do that nationally. [Points to a reporter]

Reporter #6: Governor, President Bush in his radio address today said that Social Security will be bankrupt by 2042. Isn't the federal government bankrupt also by that definition, and do you agree with Newt Gingrich that this issue could cost the Republicans the Congress?

Dean: Well, I hope something costs the Republicans the Congress. [chuckles slightly] I mean, that's what we're all trying to do here.

You know, I think that... first of all, I think that the President misspoke. The Social Security system actuarily is not going to be bankrupt by 2042, and I've never seen an estimate that said it was. It will, eventually at some point-- As a matter of fact, theoretically, if the trust funds run down, you could pay for, I think it's about 70 or 80% of the benefits out of the general fund. Now, I don't advocate doing that. But that's the kind of language that I think inflames the debate unnecessarily. We need to do something about Social Security. It is not borrow $2 trillion.

The privatization aspect of the President's plan does absolutely nothing to increase the longevity of Social Security. So I think we oughtta get that off the table right away, get the ideological piece out of this discussion, and then the leaders of the Congress have indicated that they might be willing to sit down-- the Democratic leaders in the Congress. But right now, I think the President's headed in exactly the wrong direction and that's what the leadership thinks as well.

Reporter #7: Governor, do you believe that the message you've been talking about, which is not-- it was not successful in November, is successful in the West and South and red states if you just go, say knock on their doors?

Dean: You know, I think that if we have a very clear message, then people will understand what Democrats believe in, and frankly, I believe more Americans are aligned with the beliefs of the Democratic Party than they are with the beliefs of the Republican Party. So I think a lot of it is clarity of message and it's organization.

Look, we did the best job-- I think the Democrats did the best job in this past campaign, of any campaign I've known since I've been in politics. And as everybody's fond of saying, John Kerry got more votes than anybody in the history of America, except for George Bush in the same year. Now what that means is, we really did do an incredible job, outraising the Republicans... The advantage the Republicans have organizationally is no longer money, it's their ability, where we bring in people from elsewhere to knock on doors, they have people there who've been in place for 20 years knocking on doors. That is what we have to build, and it's gonna be hard work. There's a lot ahead of us. But I think that's what we have to build.

Reporter #8: [crosstalk] is your wife going to maintain her practice in Vermont, are you going to --

Dean: Yeah, we're gonna live in both pla-- I'm gonna live in both places, and she's gonna continue to practice. Although I, as Terry told me, [ruefully] this job I think I'm mostly gonna be living in motel rooms around America. But I... I have made arrangements-- I think-- I'll be testing it tomorrow night-- I think I have a place to stay in Washington, and I'll maintain my voting residence in Vermont.

Reporter #9: Governor Dean, there are Democrats in several states that you're going to be visiting, who are afraid of your image, and don't want you to visit. What do you say to those Democrats?

Dean: Well, I actually decided that I'm not gonna reply to blind quotes, so, and that is one, so I'm not gonna answer that. I will answer in general, where-- I will, however, say that the first people to endorse me were folks who were from the South, and I'm going down to Mississippi to do a fundraiser on March 1st. But I don't-- I generally think since blind quotes are the currency in Washington, that it would be good if I started off by saying, I'm not responding to 'em.

[Points to a reporter] Yeah.

Reporter #10: [inaudible] how do you think the Democratic Party should handle the issue? Do you want to associate yourself with Mrs. Clinton [inaudible]--?

Dean: Yeah, I think Senator Clinton's remarks were right on target. You know, I have said in this race for Chair, that, you know, there's nobody that's "pro-abortion" in America. Democrats aren't "pro-abortion". There actually have been more abortions done on a per-capita basis since George Bush has been President, than there were when Bill Clinton was President. That's just a fact. Our belief is not that we're "pro-abortion", but we do believe that a woman has a right to make up her own mind about what kind of health care she wants. And that's what this is really about. It's about whether a woman has the right to make up her own mind, or somebody else should make it up for her.

" follow on that 'blind quote' thing..."

Reporter #11: Governor, to follow on that 'blind quote' thing you [inaudible] us on a minute ago. [inaudible] Republicans [inaudible] yesterday that having you as Chairman isn't quite as good as having Al Sharpton or Dennis Kucini--[the room erupts in laughter] ... but it's close. So, again, how do you counter that? Do you go out and--

Dean: First, the first way I'm gonna counter is just the way I countered that one-- I don't respond to blind quotes.


Reporter #12 ("Will"): Newt Gingrich had said that if Democrats had a death wish, Howard Dean's your guy. And that's-- his name is on the quote. [some chuckles] You wanna respond to that one?

Dean: Well, you know, I'm actually looking forward to the opportunity to see if we can prove Newt wrong.

Reporter #13: Governor, um--

Dean [to someone off to the side]: -- I'll take these two [inaudible]?

Reporter #13: Your predecessor Terry McAuliffe the other day, was complaining rather loudly about the politicization of the Catholic Church in the past election. About the priests who told their parishioners that it was a sin to vote for John Kerry. Do you think you share his concern? Do you think there's anything the Democratic Party should or could do about this?

Dean: Well, let me just say one thing about the church. I think the church is somewhat divided. There are leaders who spoke out very vociferously against our candidate for President. But I remember when I was campaigning in Iowa, there were many nuns who came up to me and said, "we're with you. Please keep doing this."

You know, the deal with the Catholic Church is that we have to remind Catholic Americans that the social mission of the Democratic Party is almost exactly the same as the social mission of the Catholic Church. You know that, the idear that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven, is not a plank in the GOP platform.

So, it seems to me that we have the right to have a claim on Catholic votes, based on Catholic teaching. Part of our religious outreach is not gonna be solely evangelical Christians. We're gonna reach out to Americans of all faiths, and explain to them why it is that we think Americans who are deeply religious oughtta be supporting the Democratic Party, not the Republican Party.

[Points to a reporter] Last one.

Reporter #14: [inaudible] tax-exempt organization--

Dean: No, I haven't gotten any of that stuff. We can look into that later. But the general issue is not whether the tax exemption and all that stuff-- I mean, that's, that's a question for lawyers. The issue is, how do we get voters to vote for Democrats, and I think we have to be very clear about our message. We believe in social responsibility, and the Republicans have shown almost no indication that they do.

Reporter #15: Governor, the signature issue of your campaign was Iraq; you have virtually not mentioned Iraq during [inaudible] most Americans think the war was worth fighting after the election. Have you changed your mind, or if not, why aren't you mentioning--

Dean: First of all, I would beg to differ. I don't think the signature issue of my campaign was Iraq, I think the signature issue of my campaign was empowering people to stand up for what they believe in. I'm not gonna get into policy issues. You know, I think my views on Iraq are well-known. But I think that the day-to-day battles over what goes on in Iraq, the proper place for that is Congress and the Democratic leadership in Congress, and I don't see any need for me to make pronouncements about an issue that I won't be voting on anytime soon. My views are well known, I'm not gonna back away from my views, but I think most of the policy pronouncements are gonna be coming from the leadership of the Congress, not from me.

Thanks very much.

[He leaves]

The Handing Over Of The Gavel

McAuliffe: And now, I would like to formally hand the gavel over to the new chair of the Democratic National Committee, Governor Howard Dean!

[Amid much cheering, McAuliffe and Dean shake hands and embrace, then McAuliffe leaves, shaking hands and hugging members as he departs.]

Dean: Thank you, Terry McAuliffe, very very much. Thank you very much for this [holds up the very in-the-black DNC financial report from last night] that's very good!

The next item of business on the agenda is an update on the DNC's investigation of election and administration problems in Ohio during this past Presidential election, and it's an honor and a privilege to me to recognize the chair of the Democratic National Committee Voting Rights Institute, Donna Brazile.


Report of Investigation Into Ohio Vote

Donna Brazile

Donna Brazile: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First of all, I want to say 'thank you' to Terry McAuliffe for the tremendous leadership that he provided to this great institution, and also for the energy that he provided to the Voting Rights Institute. Terry McAuliffe was the first out there who said that not only did we win Florida, but that we would go back out there and ensure that every American would have the right to vote. So thank you, Terry, for your leadership.

Mr. Chairman, as you well know, one of the major goals of this organization is to ensure that no American is ever denied the right to participate in our political process. And as Chair of this great body, it is now your responsibility along with all of us at the DNC to ensure that no American is ever denied access to the ballot.

On December 6, Terry McAuliffe launched a comprehensive investigation on the election practices in the state of Ohio to examine the legitimate questions and the concerns that have been raised. Our goal has been to understand and report back to this body on what happened, and why we will continue to pursue election reform. In working with the Ohio Democratic Party and others, we have found many problems, including problems with voting machines, a lack of training of poll workers, and a high number of provisional ballots, valid and invalid, anomalies reported in the results compared to the exit polls.

We will have a comprehensive report, Mr. Chairman, as well as our study and our poll findings that we will present to you and the Executive Committee, and we will ask this body once again to raise the issue of election reform in our country. We have learned in this small amount of time that there were problems for many Americans, including minorities, who tried to have their votes counted in Ohio.

So Mr. Chair, I'll say this: The President is fond of saying that "freedom is on the march." But for the other party, the only place that freedom marches is in the Middle East. But long before freedom marched in Afghanistan and Iraq and Palestine, it took a stand in Selma, Alabama, 40 years ago. And so today, this year, the 40th anniversary when a Democratic President signed the Voting Rights Act, we're calling on this party to march again for freedom and democracy here in America.

We're calling upon the Democratic Party to ensure that every citizen has the right to vote, and to have that vote counted. We're calling on the Democratic Party to march to ease the rules of voter registration so no citizen will have their voter registration forms torn up before the election. We're calling upon our party to help push for election that will actually train poll workers so that they know what to do on Election Day.

And Mr. Chairman, we're going to march until we can find shorter voting lines in all communities, and that we have standardized procedures for counting all the provisional ballots. We're going to march so that every college student can vote without harassment, and we're going to march until every college student can vote on or near campus. We're going to march until voting suppression is outlawed in this country, voter intimidation is outlawed, and voter harassment is found illegal in this country. We're going to march to end the partisanship of our election administration. So Ken Blackwell, find another job, you should not be administering elections in this country. [Applause] We're going to march to make sure that we have a voter-verified paper trail, so that we know that our votes have been counted once we cast.

And so my friends, like the prophet Amos, we're going to march until justice rolls down like water and righteousness, like the mighty stream. This party is going to stand and defend your right. And we're going to make sure that in Ohio, we right the wrongs.

And on a personal note, I want to say to Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, and Barbara Boxer, thank you for standing up for the rights of all Americans to vote, and to have those votes counted.


Mr. Chairman, I look forward to working with you, and I know you will be the next great successful chair of the Democratic National Committee.

[She and Dean shake hands and hug.]

Dean: We have not heard the last of making sure that the votes in Ohio really did count. I want to thank Donna for her tireless commitment to this party, and to making sure that every vote counts.

Concluding Business

There is one item of new business to bring before the Committee. Under the provisions of the charter of the bylaws, standing committees serve for the tenure of the national Chair. So at this point, I would ask that we have a motion for the members appointed by Chairman McAuliffe to continue until the next meeting, so that I can have the opportunity to put together a list of appointments to recommend at the next meeting. Do I hear a motion to that effect?

[Several members of the audience call out]

Dean: Do I hear a second?

[More calls out]

Dean: Any discussion?

All in favor of those extending the term of the current standing committee members of the DNC meeting say 'Aye'.

[Ayes from the audience]

Dean: Those opposed say 'no'. The 'ayes' have it, and the motion is approved.

I will now ask Secretary Germond to make any additional announcements. Ms Secretary?

[She announces that the Executive Committee meeting will be held at 2:45, after this one is ended.]

Dean: One further announcement. This is to the officers. It is my understanding [that] General Counsel Mr. Sandler will need to see us after the meeting to sign corporate paperwork. [To someone off to the side:] Where's the best time and place to meet? [She answers] So [if] the officers will show up at the Executive Committee, we'll start that just by signing the paperwork that has to be done.

The Closing Benediction

Reverend Zina Pierre

I would now ask those of you just to be respectful for a moment as we ask the Reverend Zina Pierre, who is a national leader on women's empowerment, who's currently pursuing her Master's of Divinity at Howard University, the Reverend Pierre will please give the benediction.

Reverend Pierre: Mr. Chairman, before I give the traditional benediction, I feel led to read this scripture to you because the power of prayer is real. And without God, we are nothing. But with God we are everything.

In the book of Jeremiah it tells us, in the 17th and 18th verse,

"Thou therefore gird up thy loins," every time you go before those Republicans...
[chuckles from the audience]
"...and arise and speak unto them all that I command thee,
and be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.
For behold, I have made thee this day, a defensed city, an iron pillar, a brazen wall against the whole land, against the kings of Judah,"
(the Republicans)
"...against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land..."

-- and God always gives you warnings and then he gives you promises, and then he follows by saying,

"and they shall fight against thee but they shall not prevail against thee.
For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee. I am with thee..."

...Mr. Chairman, so that you can be with us, to make certain that we bring back the social justice, and the unity, and the consciousness of this country. Because the Democratic Party knows about social justice. And we know about God. And we cannot allow another party to say that we don't know anything about God. [Dean nods]

Let us look to the Lord. [All bow their heads]

Eternal and all-wise God, we come before you on this very special day, to give thanks for your grace and your mercy. We thank you for your loving kindness.
We thank you because you kept us and continue to keep us from dangers seen and unseen.
Now, Lord, we thank you for all the officers who you have bestowed upon us on this day, to be leaders in this Democratic Party.
Father, we pray that you will allow your angels to be dispatched all around each and every officer, from the Chairman on down, each and every delegate.
Lord, allow your anointing to fall fresh upon this Democratic Party, oh God, that we may continue to do your business and not our own.
And now, Lord, as we close this session, and as we leave this place, but never from your presence. God, let there be unity amongst us, Lord. Bless each and every person who won, but even those who did not win, Lord God, because we're all your children.
So encourage us, be with us, Lord God, that we may do your will, in season, and out of season.
In your name, we pray.
Amen. And Amen.

[She and Dean hug.]

Dean: Thank you, Reverend, for that wonderful, inspirational message.

That concludes our business today. May I have a motion to adjourn?

[Members of the audience call out]

Dean: Do I hear a second?

[Seconds call out]

Dean: All those in favor, signify by saying 'Aye'.

[A roomful of 'ayes']

Dean: Those opposed, by saying 'no.' The 'ayes' have it, and this meeting is adjourned. Thank you very much.

[He gavels out the meeting]

--- End ---

Transcribed from video provided by C-Span; in their recordings "American Politics: Howard Dean and Terry McAuliffe", and "Democratic National Committee Winter Meeting General Session," both dated February 12, 2005

Browse the transcript by topic:



Back to General Dean Stuff

Back to Dean Speeches

Or else I'm just a Luddite