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Beyond the Beltway: Democrats Woo the South

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", March 5, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean (search) makes a play for the South as we go Beyond the Beltway.

Dean’s so-called red, white, and blue tour this week took him to one of the reddest states in the whole Union, Mississippi, where he declared Democrats (search) will not concede the South to the GOP. In addition to Dean’s usual themes, he prayed for American troops and said that the party should reach out to evangelical Christians and pro-life Democrats. "I want to reach out to people who are worried about values. We’re going to embrace pro-life Democrats because pro-life Democrats care about kids after they’re born, not just before they’re born."

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Now, Howard Dean. Look, as Democratic chairman, he’s doing the right thing, going to places where Democrats have been weak. But the notion that somehow he has some message that’s going to be embraced by evangelical Christians and pro-lifers is nonsense. It’s a, those people have been reviled by Democrats from the Northeast like Howard Dean for years.

And I think they’ll probably sense that he doesn’t have much to say to them. And he, and he certainly doesn’t. They are now a part, pro-life Democrats, are in fact a part of the Republican presidential coalition.

And, here’s the test. When we get around to 2006 and 2008, is the Democratic National Committee going to be pouring money into Mississippi and Alabama and South Carolina and, and states like that? Not a chance. I mean, this is like Ken Mehlman, the Republican chairman, going up to Manhattan and saying, we’re not conceding the West Side, we’re not conceding Harlem, and it means nothing.

KONDRACKE: Yes. I do agree with you. Howard Dean is the leader, in fact, of the MoveOn.org, Michael Moore (search) and George Soros (search) wing of the Democratic Party.

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: That will never sell in Mississippi. In fact, I think this is a show-the-flag tour to make it clear that the Democrats intend to run or say they’re going to run a 50-state campaign, and not write any part of the country off.

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: When it comes down to it, though, I think the Democrats will end up, as you suggest, concentrating on the, on the five states where Bush won by 5 points or less, which is Florida, Ohio, Iowa, New Mexico, and Nevada.

BARNES: Yes.

KONDRACKE: I mean, the, there the Democratic Party has a chance to recruit and that’s where they’ll probably try.

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