Dean pledges effort in N.C.

National Democratic chairman: no reason for party to pass over any state

Staff WriterJuly 26, 2008 

— Democratic Party head Howard Dean promised to keep the focus on North Carolina in this fall's presidential election.

At a brief stop in Raleigh on Friday, the former Vermont governor said the party had left too many states, especially Southern ones, to the Republicans in years past.

"The Democratic Party has changed a lot in 30 years, and so has the South," he said. "There is no reason for us to pass over a state anywhere."

A crowd of about 100 volunteers cheered during the 15-minute speech in front of the state party headquarters on Hillsborough Street.

The North Carolina visit was part of a multistate tour promoting voter registration drives designed to benefit presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. He traveled in a biodiesel bus and stopped in Greensboro and Charlotte later in the day.

As chairman of the Democratic National Committee since 2005, Dean has promoted a "50-state strategy" aimed at building the party apparatus around the country.

He told reporters that the party will make a significant effort in North Carolina, where it has agreed to share money with the state party for field operations boosting Obama as well as state candidates.

"I think you'll see us play here heavily," he said.

Not everyone at the event was cheering.

A small group of Hillary Rodham Clinton supporters from Durham and Fayetteville held up signs that said "No-bama" and "18 Million Voices -- Hear Us Now." They called for Clinton's name to be submitted as a candidate at the national convention.

Early childhood educator Stewart Asbel, 39, of Durham said he still thinks Clinton could win if the convention delegates voted. Otherwise, he's considering voting for Republican John McCain.

"Barack Obama does not speak for me," he said.

Dean said he was not concerned about the Clinton supporters at the event, incidentally noting that one of them handled his own 2004 presidential campaign in North Carolina.

Mike Duncan, chairman of the Republican National Committee, will also visit North Carolina in the next few weeks.

ryan.teague.beckwith@newsobserver.com or (919) 836-4944

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