Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean visited Dartmouth for the second time in less than a week Sunday, passionately speaking to an overflow crowd at Alumni Hall about the Democratic Party's need for change and a commitment to its core values, in light of Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's recent defeat.
"There will not be retreat on behalf of the Democratic Party," Dean said, exhorting the audience to make the United States the strongest nation in the world in moral values and moral leadership.
Dean emphasized the importance of the Democratic Party's commitment to its core values and principles, saying that the nation did not need "two Republican parties." He was emphatic about not sacrificing Democratic values for public appeal.
"We are in the middle -- we can't do this anymore. We have come too far," he said.
He called Kerry's loss an opportunity to fix the Democratic Party properly, by rebuilding and restructuring but not losing sight of its principles.
"We are so desperate to win that sometimes we forget what we're supposed to stand for," Dean said.
Dean, who heads the grassroots political organization Democracy in America, referred to the strong base of over 50 million Kerry supporters the Democratic Party needs to organize. He mentioned that it was a party mistake and a mark of its timidity to focus on key swing states rather than running a strong "50-state campaign" in the recent election.
Dean emphasized the importance of appealing to Southern evangelical Christians, who he said hold more common values with Democrats than Republicans. Echoing rhetoric from his Dartmouth appearance last week, Dean said Republicans focus on "guns, God, gays and abortion," issues that divide and frighten the American people rather than unite them.
Democrats and evangelical Christians are both concerned about economic stability, jobs and job opportunities and education, Dean said, adding that Americans need to stop dividing themselves through religion.
Dean argued that President Bush's 51 percent of the vote was not a mandate and that the nation was not as divided as the blue and red map might indicate. According to Dean, one of the Democrats' main concerns should be uniting the nation as a moral America that will regain its respect and leadership in the international community.
The former governor appeared optimistic and enthusiastic about Democratic chances for 2008, saying that there was plenty to do between now and the next presidential election.