NEW YORK – The chairman of the Democratic National Committee said he is concerned about infighting among some of the party's presidential candidates.
"I don't like that," DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe said Tuesday. "We need to make sure we are monitoring that. The focus of this is beating George Bush."
Several of the nine Democratic presidential candidates have been aiming criticisms at each other - and naming names when they do so.
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is the most outspoken in his criticisms of his fellow candidates, especially in his criticisms of Sen. John Kerry, saying the Massachusetts senator has been ambiguous about his position on the war with Iraq.
The Kerry campaign has responded by accusing Dean of "incoherence."
Most recently, Dean has criticized Kerry and Sens. John Edwards, Joe Lieberman and Bob Graham for supporting a $350 billion tax cut, prompting Kerry to say that Dean offers no plan.
In an interview at a DNC fund-raiser, McAuliffe said he understands the need for candidates to draw distinctions on issues, but he fears the war of words is escalating.
"We do not and I do not encourage any of our candidates to go after fellow Democrats," he said. "I want to discourage it early on.
"We expect all of them to abide by a good code out there to make sure the focus is on George Bush and not on each other."
Dean, who spoke at the fund-raiser, said in a later interview that his attacks on positions taken by his fellow Democrats and are not personal attacks.
"I don't think I have said anything personal," said Dean. "I think the only personal remarks were made by some campaign aides for Senator Kerry.
I don't think there is anything personal about disagreeing with someone's positions or lack of positions," he said. "People have to be responsible for their positions."