The chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party said Monday that it would be "extremely foolish" for Democrats to chose someone who opposes abortion rights to lead the party.

Phil Johnston (search), who heads the Democrats in losing presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry's home state, spoke out amid news of former Rep. Tim Roemer's (search) decision to seek the national party's chairmanship.

"The fact that we lost the 2004 presidential race by a narrow margin should not result in the abandonment of our party's core principles," Johnston said.

Democrats, he said, can only regain the White House by choosing s extremely foolish if the DNC were to be led by a chair who agrees with the Bush administration's position on abortion," Johnston said.

Roemer, a Catholic from Indiana who opposes abortion (search), said he respects the position of Democrats who favor abortion rights and have written it into their party platform.

Others who have expressed interest in the chairmanship include former Texas Rep. Martin Frost, Democratic activists Simon Rosenberg and Donnie Fowler, former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and former Ohio Democratic Party chairman David Leland. Howard Dean, a former Democratic presidential candidate, is considering whether to join the race.

Some Democrats have approached current chairman Terry McAuliffe about remaining in the job.

Democrats will vote on the choice in early February.