At Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting, Dean calls for unity

The DNC chair turned to a story from his own life as he asked his party to come together.

By Alex Koppelman
May 31, 2008 7:00PM (UTC)
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The Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws Committee is meeting Saturday to try to hammer out some step towards a solution regarding the disputed Florida and Michigan delegations. It's a contentious issue, and one that's generated no small amount of interest -- it's not exactly common for people to fill a large room in a Washington, D.C. hotel to hear about the intricacies of the DNC's charter. Speaking at the start of the meeting, DNC Chairman Howard Dean addressed the controversy and made a plea for the party he leads to come together.

In doing so, Dean turned to a story from his own life, specifically from 2004, when he was running for the Democratic nomination. "As I was struggling on, I was very, very angry at my party for some of the things that had been done," Dean said. "And I remember getting a phone call from Al Gore in the middle of the night... walking up and down the floor talking to him, ranting and raving, saying, 'What do I owe the Democratic Party? Tell me why I should be a Democrat, tell me what I owe this party after the way I've been treated.' And I went on like that for about 20 minutes. Finally, Al said to me, 'Howard, you know, this is not about you, it's about your country.'"


Dean's message for the candidates, and their supporters, was the same. "The conclusion that I drew is that this is not about our candidates," Dean said. "This is not about Barack Obama, this is not about Hillary Clinton, this is about our country."

Later, he addressed some of the factors that have led to the division within the Democratic Party, saying, "Over the course of this primary, there've been some very tough disagreements and some ugly moments in this campaign... [E]motions have run very high and heated discussions have led at times to blatant sexist comments, particularly by some members of the media. And blatantly racist remarks. And we know that those comments have no place in our society and certainly no place in our party." Having said this, he told the committee, "Your actions today will put us back on a course of party unity."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama Hillary Rodham Clinton Howard Dean War Room