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Dean: Unifying Democrats a work in progress

- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 12, 2008

Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean said Wednesday the party still has work to do to unify itself behind Sen. Barack Obama, especially among people who remained "resistant and reluctant" over his presidential candidacy.

"We are well down the road to unifying the party ... and it will take some longer time," Mr. Dean told reporters at the Christian Science Monitor newsmakers breakfast this morning - noting that it took him over three months "to get my followers behind Sen. [John] Kerry" in the 2004 presidential election.

But he also said that such "unity requires work. ... There will be people who are resistant and reluctant" in the party to embrace Mr. Obama" as their nominee, he said, adding that "in the long run we will have a unified party."

On other issues, Mr. Dean said:

* He was not troubled by the efforts among some House Democrats to impeach President Bush. "The president may or may not deserve to be impeached. I'll reserve judgment on that, but I'm certainly not embarrassed by the fact that it's being done "

* He was "delighted that Democrats are nervous about whether they are going to win" the White House this year, but acknowledged that "it will be a hard-fought election. I think, absolutely, it's going to be very close."

* There was nothing wrong with a top Washington lobbyist heading a search committee picked by Illinois' Mr. Obama to vet possible vice presidential running mates. He said James A. Johnson, the former CEO of Fannie Mae, "doesn't work for the campaign, doesn't get paid."

"Sen. Obama does not have any paid lobbyist on his campaign," said Mr. Dean, accusing the Republicans of planting the story. "They are hypocrites," he said, noting that presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona does have former lobbyists working for his campaign, including his chief strategist Charlie Black.