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Howard Dean Says GOP Best Propagandists since Lenin (posted Sept. 10, 2004)

Former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean had strong words for the GOP during his speech yesterday at Brown University to an overflow audience of 850 people. Complaining about the party's attacks on Democrats, he said "Republicans are essentially the best propaganda machine since Lenin." According to Dean, "Republicans want to run every election on guns, God, gays, and abortion. I want to run it on public education, health care, and job opportunities."

Dean made his remarks as part of the Noah Krieger Memorial Lecture organized by the Taubman Center for Public Policy. The lecture is an annual event that brings distinguished visitors to campus for a public lecture. Since his presidential campaign ended, Dean has put together a new organization called Democracy for America that encourages people to get involved in politics. Dean said the country needed permanent change and complained that the country now was "led by a radical gang of extremists."

Dean also has a new book coming out at the end of September. For the lecture, he recounted the story of a private conversation he had several years ago with then Texas Governor George W. Bush. Bush had become embroiled in a controversy with Christian Right organizations within his state. They thought he was going to appoint members of their group to the state school board and were upset when he instead named members of the business community. Christian Right leaders proceeded to criticize Bush publicly for failing to follow through on his commitments to them.

Seeing Bush as a holiday party at the White House, Dean approached the Texas governor and joked about Bush's unpopularity with the Christian Right. Seething with anger, Bush told Dean "I hate those people" and complained about their attacks on him. However, Dean pointed out that as president, Bush has made appeals to the Christian Right the centerpiece of his presidency. The lesson, according to Dean, is that Bush "knows politics but doesn't give a damn about policy."

When asked about the general election, Dean indicated he thought Kerry had sharpened his message in recent days and was going to come on strong in the end. "I think the pensive part of this campaign is behind us and you're going to start to see some bare knuckles," he said. And in terms of his future political plans, Dean told the audience that for 2008 "I wouldn't rule that out, but I'd think about it more carefully."