In S.F., Dean Calls GOP ‘A White Christian Party’

Carla Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, June 7

Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, unapologetic in the face of recent criticism that he has been too tough on his political opposition, said in San Francisco this week that Republicans are “a pretty monolithic party. They all behave the same. They all look the same. It’s pretty much a white Christian party.”

“The Republicans are not very friendly to different kinds of people,” Dean said Monday, responding to a question about diversity during a forum with minority leaders and journalists. “We’re more welcoming to different folks, because that’s the type of people we are. But that’s not enough. We do have to deliver on things: jobs and housing and business opportunities.”

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But Dean’s style and rhetoric have sparked increasing criticism from inside the Democratic Party in recent weeks—and gleeful Republicans say they couldn’t be happier.

“Where do I sign up on a committee to keep Howard Dean?” crowed GOP operative Jon Fleischmann, publisher of the FlashReport, a daily roundup of California political news and commentary. “He’s the best thing to happen to the GOP in ages.”

“I’m thrilled he’s the DNC chair,” says Tom Del Becarro, chairman of the Contra Costa County Republican Party. “Howard Dean is scaring away the middle. People don’t like angry people. They like hopeful people.”

But Simi Valley Councilman Glenn Becerra, a staffer with former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson and a Bush appointee to the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, said Tuesday he was far from amused by Dean’s suggestion that Republicans constitute “a white Christian party,” and called the Democratic Party chairman “an embarrassment.”

“I’m living proof that the (GOP) isn’t what Howard Dean is trying to describe,” Becerra said during a telephone interview. “It’s a sad day when Democrats don’t have any ideas to put forward, and they have to resort to race politics. President Bush didn’t get 40 percent of the Hispanic vote (in 2004) because we’re a monolithic, white Christian party.”

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Here are some Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean’s comments while speaking this week with minority community leaders and journalists at a roundtable in San Francisco:

On Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger: “Gov. Schwarzenegger has been a big disappointment to a lot of Californians . . . Americans are tired of politicians that break their promise, especially in an area like education . . . so I think there’s going to be a lot of questions about whether the governor really cares about average Californians.”

On Schwarzenegger’s endorsement of the Minutemen: “This is why I don’t agree that there’s no difference between Republicans and Democrat . . . you would never have heard a Democrats talk like that . . . I think the Republicans are always like this. I remember (former Republican Gov.) Pete Wilson . . . got elected by victimizing immigrants. Republicans always divide people.”

On illegal immigration: “(Democrats) understand we have a border problem. But we think that if you enforce the laws you already have, the people who are already here . . . they haven’t broken any laws, they paid their taxes, a lot of them are paying into the Social Security system and getting nothing. Those people ought to be on a reasonable track toward citizenship.”

On past promises by Democratic officials to minority communities: “It does make a difference that we now have senior management that is African American (and minority) . . . which means we’re not going to have the white boys’ club make all the decision anymore. Everybody’s going to be included.”

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