WASHINGTON – Former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean (search) is looking for a new life for himself, and not coincidentally, the Democratic Party. On Wednesday, he offered a response to charges that he is too combustible to lead the Democratic National Committee (search).
Speaking to an audience at George Washington University, Dean said demoralized Democrats must end their tedious post-election navel-gazing.
"Our challenge today is not to rehash what's happened, but to look forward, make the Democratic Party a 50-state party again, and most of all, to win," he said.
Post-election analyses by Democratic groups have focused the collective Democratic mind on one question — which way to go, right or left. Dean said the question is the wrong one.
"The question is not about whether we move to the left or to the right, the question is not about our direction. We need to start focusing on our destination," he said.
For him, he said, that destination is a nationally competitive party.
"We can't any longer be a party that seeks the presidency by running an 18-state campaign. We can't be a party that cedes a single state, a single district, a single precinct or even a single voter," Dean said.
Dean's remarks come as he seeks to replace outgoing Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe. Other candidates — including former Clinton Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes (search), former Texas Rep. Martin Frost (search), former Michigan Gov. Jim Blanchard, New York businessman Leo J. Hindery Jr., political strategist Donnie Fowler, New Democrat Network president Simon Rosenberg and former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb — are all making an appeal for the job this weekend to the Association of State Democratic Chairs (search).
While deflecting the question on right versus left, Dean's calling card is still marked by a fiery populism.
"There is only one thing the Republican power brokers want more than for us to lurch to the left, and that is for us to lurch to the right, because what they fear the most is that we may really begin fighting for what we believe," Dean said.
Dean said he won't run for the White House in 2008 if he wins the party chairmanship. Dean told FOX News that he wasn't sure if he could capture the post long reserved for party insiders and fund-raisers, but he appeared eager to battle Beltway Democrats.
"The way to rebuild the Democratic Party is not build from consultants down, it's from the ground up," he said.
Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Major Garrett.