WASHINGTON – Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean (search) paid a call Thursday on Capitol Hill, the lion's den where Republicans have denounced him and some Democrats have recently distanced themselves from him.
Dean said that the recent controversy over his comments isn't going to stop congressional Democrats from focusing on issues like Social Security, gas prices and the war in Iraq.
"We haven't had any discussions about what's going on in the media circus and all that stuff in the last two weeks. What we're focused on is how to have a decent Social Security system, how to have a strong national defense, how to have jobs in America again, how to deal with incredibly high gas prices and get a decent energy bill which actually will do something about gas prices. That's what our agenda is," Dean said after meeting with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (search) about the Democrats' agenda for the next few weeks of Congress.
The meeting drew a large and eager assembly of the Capitol Hill press corps. Many waited to hear what Dean would say about Republicans. He has already announced that he hates them, they are dishonest and do not know how to earn an honest living. Most recently, he suggested the GOP is the party of unfriendly and intolerant white Christians.
"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," he said earlier this week.
While meeting with Dean and other key Democrats, Reid suggested that Dean did not mean what he said.
"Well, I think, as all of you know, that there isn't a single person, whether it's any of us in this room or Gov. Dean or (Republican National Committee Chairman Ken) Mehlman that haven't misspoken," the Senate leader said. Reid also has been criticized for making strong comments, including calling President Bush a "loser" and a "liar." Reid apologized for the former.
Asked whether he agreed that he had misspoken, Dean hit the ball right back into the Republican court.
"You know, think a lot of this is exactly what the Republicans want, and that's a diversion. The truth is that we need to focus on exactly the issues that Harry Reid just talked about, and we're going to," he said.
Later, another photo opportunity for the press with Dean was cancelled by Democratic Party leaders. Privately, some Democats have said they are irked by Dean. But publicly, the party faithful held their fire. However, Ilinois Sen. Barack Obama (search), on his way to a Rock the Vote party on Wednesday night, suggested that comments like the ones made by the chairman are not helpful.
"Inclusive language is going to be more effective in terms of us building a majority for the Democrats," he said.
Dean said Thursday that he is only going to talk about the Democratic agenda and would not let Republicans or the media steer him off course.
Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Brian Wilson.