The Democratic Party’s leader will offer a five-point rallying cry today for the 2006 elections that will highlight Republican scandals, call for creating more jobs through energy independence and demand the U.S. move closer to universal health care insurance.
Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, will lay out a new agenda on the final day of party meetings at the Wyndham Hotel in downtown Phoenix. Dean and other party leaders have crafted a list of issues they want to be the central themes for every Democratic candidate seeking office next year.
"This is going to be the same platform in Alabama and Arizona as it is in Northern California and the Midwest," Dean told the Tribune on Friday. "We are going to run the same campaign everywhere in America, and that’s how we are going to win."
Dean began working on a national strategy shortly after taking over in early 2005 a party rocked by the re-election of President Bush and the loss of additional congressional seats to Republicans. The former presidential candidate, still best remembered for his televised yowl after losing the Iowa primary, was propelled to the helm by a grassroots coalition that believed the party needed a fresh, more confrontational approach for appealing to moderate Republicans and independent voters.
So Dean spent months surveying leaders and likely candidates in every state to gather ideas for a common message. The result is somewhat similar to the 1994 "Contract with America" that launched an eventual Republican sweep of Congress and the White House.
Although Democrats publicly cringe at the comparison, the new agenda even includes a couple of the same issues as the 1994 Republican plan.
Just like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., did more than a decade ago, Dean said Friday that Democrats will restore ethics and integrity to national politics.
Dean’s message will be aided by a wave of events this year — from criminal indictments of congressional leaders and White House officials to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and growing unease about the U.S. military’s continued presence in Iraq — that have damaged the public’s image of Republicans.
"You can’t trust them with your money," Dean said. "You can’t trust them to tell the truth. You can’t trust them to manage the war. You can’t trust them if you have a natural disaster. Now tell me why people are going to vote for Republicans?"
Whether Democratic candidates will embrace Dean’s proposal for a single national strategy isn’t clear yet. And Republicans will try to use Dean’s tendency to put his foot in his mouth as a reason for voters to shy away.
"In the shadow of economic expansion, historic Iraqi elections and a diminishing achievement gap in the classroom, Howard Dean is left with pessimistic and stale political attacks that resonate solely with the farleft," said Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee.
Issues that Howard Dean, Democratic National Committee chairman, will highlight:
• Honesty and integrity in government
• New Iraq policy to reduce the military’s role and its vulnerability to attack
• Limit outsourcing of American jobs and create new ones through energy independence
• Moving toward universal health care
• Improving public education