WASHINGTON – Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean (search) came back from his tour of conservative states like Kansas, Mississippi and Tennessee with new strategies to win over their voters but the same basic message from his presidential campaign.
"We have to speak to our hearts and convictions," Dean told a crowd at a waterfront restaurant Wednesday night. "We are never going to win by being a pale copy of the Republican Party (search)."
Dean praised President Bush's (search) political skills for telling voters in the nation's heartland that "people in the Northeast and California don't respect you, but I'm one of you."
"We need to respect people who believe differently than we do, and we need to honor their concerns about America," Dean said during his first Washington fund raiser.
Democrats need to compete with Republicans in all 50 states and "run four-year campaigns, not seven-month campaigns," he said.
Democrats can run on moral values as well as Republicans, said Dean, who added that Democrats' programs to provide help for people reflect moral values more than Republican programs do.
The party raised $150,000 from about 1,200 people who paid from $35 to $50 apiece to attend.
Republicans outraised Democrats more than 2-to-1 in the first two months of the year.