Dean Still Hates Conservatives

DNC chair says he's "dialed back" his tough talk on the GOP, but then blasts Gingrich and Bush.

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Howard Dean
Howard Dean

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, who once called the Republicans "brain-dead," today implored the GOP to follow his lead and reduce the hot rhetoric and come together on programs and policies both sides are close on.

"I've been dialing back on my rhetoric for the last couple of years and the reason is I think we do need to open doors," he said at a breakfast media roundtable. "We've got to return a tone of civility to this country so we can really work with people on stuff we care about, and that means abandoning the test of ideological purity and being able to cross over and work with people you disagree with in one area but you agree with in another area."

But Dean did not sound like he was expecting the Republican Party to concur, claiming that they are stuck with an old "scorched earth" approach to Democrats, which was started by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

"The problem with the Republican Party is that they value ideology over what's good for the country," said Dean. "They haven't been willing to work with people to find reasonable middle ground. They've basically adopted a scorched earth policy."

He said the GOP practice of ignoring Democrats has reached the White House, which has taken the same approach with foreign governments, a move he said has been "terrible for our national image." He also defended his previous "brain-dead" comments, joking that it was a "clinical diagnosis." Dean is a medical doctor.

In assailing Republicans, especially conservatives, he said that there are good conservative ideas the Democrats can work on, but that the Republicans refuse to team with Democrats.

"What I deeply object to what the conservatives have done is be so high-bound idealogically that they absolutely refuse to work with anybody else to get anything done. There are reasonable, thoughtful solutions on both sides. And conservatives themselves have some reasonable, thoughtful ideas that I think are pretty good. But they have made it impossible to work with in any way because their value and their goal is to get rid of liberals and Democrats and that is a very stupid thing to do for the future of this country. Everybody has something to bring to the table," said Dean.