- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 12, 2008

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Wednesday that despite widespread voter discontent with President Bush, the slumping economy and an unpopular war in Iraq, Democrats are justifiably “really nervous about whether they can win or not” in November´s presidential election.

“Elections [usually] do not get won by big landslides. It is going to be close, absolutely it’s going to be very close,” said Mr. Dean, whose 50-State Strategy of fighting on Republican turf is credited with helping Democrats win the congressional majority in 2006.

He also said his party has a lot of work to do to unify itself behind Sen. Barack Obama´s presidential bid, acknowledging that some Democrats are reluctant to support the first-term senator from Illinois.

“We are well down the road to unifying the party. I’m a little surprised it is moving as fast as it is, given the length of the primary season, [but] it will take some longer time,” Mr. Dean told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor newsmaker breakfast - recalling that it took him “over three months to get my followers behind Senator [John] Kerry” after abandoning his own ill-fated 2004 presidential campaign.

Recent polls continue to show that some Democrats say they will not vote for Mr. Obama and will vote for presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain or won’t vote at all.

A few Democrats have raised questions about Mr. Obama’s candidacy, and one of them, Oklahoma Rep. Dan Boren, who this week called him “the most liberal senator in Congress,” said he would not endorse him, though he will vote Democratic in November.

Mr. Dean, who seemed unaware of Mr. Boren’s position, said, “Hmm, that’s interesting. I won’t respond to it because I haven’t had the chance to hear it from him directly.”

Asked whether the party platform will soften its language on abortion to reach out to right-to-life Democrats, Mr. Dean said it would stand by its long-held abortion rights position, but “also believes that we ought to significantly reduce the number of abortions in this country.”

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