WASHINGTON – Cries of protest howled in Washington Wednesday as Republicans pounced on Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean's (search) latest characterization of them while even a few Democrats distanced themselves from the remarks.
Speaking at an engagement in San Francisco earlier this week, Dean took aim at the Republican Party's membership.
"The Republicans are not very friendly to different kinds of people. They're a pretty monolithic party. They all behave the same and they all look the same. It's pretty much a white, Christian party," the chairman said.
Given the opportunity to draw back from those comments on Wednesday, Dean, a 2004 presidential candidate and former governor of Vermont, did not retreat.
"I think it is true that the Republicans are, in fact, a white, Christian party. There's nothing the matter with that, I'm a white Christian myself. But they don't include other folks, and this is a very diverse country," he told a morning network news show.
The chairman of the Republican National Committee took exception to the characterization.
"I think that a lot of the folks who attended my bar mitzvah would be surprised that we are a party of white Christians," RNC chief Ken Mehlman told FOX News.
Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., who is also Jewish, called Dean's remarks "hateful."
In fact, white Christians make up 78 percent of the Republican Party. Exit polling from the 2004 election shows that of all the self-described white Christians who cast ballots in the last presidential election, 48 percent were Republicans. Democrats and independents made up the other 52 percent.
Those statistics left many wondering why the chairman of the Democratic Party would be making comments that might alienate millions of potential voters. The ranking Democrat in the House was quick to disassociate herself from Dean's comments.
"There are no Democrats who agree with each other 100 percent of the time on any statements that we make, and I do not agree with the statement that was made by Governor Dean, Chairman Dean in characterizing Republicans," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said.
This week's comments are not the first time that Dean has gotten a little carried away with his rhetoric. Recently, he said Republicans are not honest.
"We know that our vision for America is much better than the dark, difficult and dishonest vision the Republican Party offers America," Dean told an audience attending the Campaign for America's Future conference last week.
Republicans also don't work very hard, according to Dean.
"A lot of them never made an honest living in their lives," he said at the same event.
And, if that weren't enough, he also convicted House Majority Leader Tom DeLay before he has been indicted for anything.
The barrage has some Democrats squirming.
"He doesn't speak for me with that kind of rhetoric. And I don't think he speaks for the majority of Democrats," said Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., on a weekend network news show.
On Wednesday, Biden added that he thinks "the rhetoric is counterproductive."
"I think this country has a purple heart, not a red heart or a blue heart," Biden said. "If we can't bring this [country] together, man, boy, we're really in deep trouble."
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Tuesday that Dean is not the party's spokesman and he wasn't overly troubled by the remarks.
"He's not the spokesman for the party, it's governors, it's senators, it's party leaders. I'm not going to join those that are trashing him, I think he's doing OK," Richardson said.
A spokesman for GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert, however, laughed off Dean's remarks.
"Last week's scandal was Deep Throat. This week's scandal is Dean's Throat. And apparently, Dean likes the taste of his own foot," said spokesman Ron Bonjean.
Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Brian Wilson.