OELWEIN, Iowa – Howard Dean (search) rejected a voter's request to be more neighborly and stop "mean mouthing" President Bush, saying Sunday someone needs to stand up to the president.
Dale Ungerer, a retiree from Hawkeye, Iowa (search), lectured Dean for nearly three minutes near the end of a forum aimed at winning voters for Iowa's Jan. 19 caucuses.
Ungerer accused Dean and other Democratic presidential hopefuls of dividing the country by bashing Bush instead of outlining their own plans and showing respect for authority.
"Please tone down the garbage, the mean mouthing, the tearing down of your neighbor and being so pompous," Ungerer told the former Vermont (search) governor and Democratic front-runner. "You should help your neighbor and not tear him down."
"George Bush is not my neighbor," Dean replied.
"Yes, he is," Ungerer said, to which Dean responded: "You sit down. You've had your say and now I'm going to have my say."
Dean said Bush has harmed communities like Oelwein by failing to fund education programs, by fighting for corporations rather than family farms and sending American troops to Iraq without telling the truth about why they were deployed.
"That is exactly the problem. Under the guise of 'support your neighbor' we're all expected not to criticize the president because it's unpatriotic," Dean said to enthusiastic applause. "I think it's unpatriotic to do some of the things that this president has done to this country."
Ungerer spoke after Dean extended his regular invitation for the audience to make comments, pose questions and offer "rude remarks."
Ungerer, who said he was a registered Republican who voted for Bush but sometimes supports Democratic candidates, left after the exchange.
"He put me down definitely because he is who he is," Ungerer said.