WASHINGTON – Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean said Saturday the large turnout for the Iowa caucuses indicates Americans are looking for a Democrat to run the White House in 2008, but he added that the party still has to work to make that happen.
"Republicans may not know how to govern, but they have made it clear time and again they will do anything to win and hold on to power," said Dean in his party's weekly radio address.
Dean referred to alleged Republican schemes to interfere in past elections, including a 2002 phone jamming incident in New Hampshire, which is set to hold its presidential primaries Tuesday. A former national Republican Party official was convicted on federal telephone harassment charges in December 2005 over the jamming of state Democratic Party get-out-the-vote phone banks on Election Day 2002. An appeals court later overturned that conviction and sent the case back to a lower court.
Dean, who ran in the 2004 presidential election and was a distant third in the Iowa caucuses, also accused Republicans of voter intimidation in 2004 and using "immigration and race as a wedge to win elections instead of working with all Americans to solve problems."
On the Iowa turnout, Dean said the fact that hundreds of thousands of Iowans braved bitter temperatures Thursday to vote testifies to their commitment to change the nation's political direction. Iowa caucus returns showed that 239,000 Democrats and 116,000 Republicans took part.
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who won Iowa's Democratic race with 38 percent of the vote, benefited from a surge in first-time caucus-goers and young voters in what was a record Democratic turnout.
"This week in Iowa we saw the process shift away from pollster's predictions to the voters finally having their say," Dean said. "And what they said loud and clear is that Americans trust Democrats to restore America. They do not want a third Bush term."
He emphasized that the Democratic Party is the agent for "change," a theme of the contest for the party's nomination.
"If you want to get out of Iraq and refocus America's priorities to really fight terrorism, vote for a Democrat for president," Dean said. "If you want to ensure that all Americans get affordable health care, vote for a Democrat for president."