Court evangelicals, Dean says at fundraiser in Reno

RENO — Democrats are poised to recapture the White House because they are the most fiscally responsible party and will end the war in Iraq, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Monday night.

But the 2008 presidential election might hinge on evangelical Christians who are undergoing a “generational change” that emphasizes social responsibility over social conservatism, he said.

“I haven’t seen gay marriage in the Bible once,” Dean said in the keynote address at a Democratic fundraiser at a Reno hotel-casino.

“But I’ve seen a lot about helping people who are poor and including people and not leaving anybody behind,” he said. “Those are core values of the Democratic Party, and they also are core values of an awful lot of evangelicals.”

Dean said in a speech to more than 500 at the Washoe County Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner that the party scored victories in the previous congressional elections because “we reached out to folks and will continue to reach out to people we had written off before, to our detriment.”

“One of those groups of people is evangelical Christians,” he said.

Rick Warren, a best-selling author and pastor at a Southern California church, is an example of an evangelical who is setting aside “those things that divide us” and doing things “that bring people together, things that really are in the Bible,” Dean said. He said the priorities include fighting poverty, global warming and the bloodshed in Darfur.

The former Vermont governor who ran for president in 2004 said he is determined this time around to “take no voter for granted.”

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic nominee in 2004, carried 19 percent of the evangelical vote, and Democrats as a whole won 25 percent from that group in 2006, Dean said.

But President Clinton “used to get 33 percent,” Dean said.

“If we get back to 33 percent, we are going to start winning states again like Arkansas and Louisiana, and we are on the way to the presidency,” he said.

Dean said Democrats were successful in 2006 because they advocate “fairness” and want to end the war in Iraq.

He added that “fiscal responsibility is a Democratic value.”

“There is only one president the last 40 years who has balanced the budget, and his name is William Jefferson Clinton and he is a Democrat.”

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