Howard Dean Nearly a Lock for Democrat Chair, Roemer Decries Abortion Fight

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 7, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Howard Dean Nearly a Lock for Democrat Chair, Roemer Decries Abortion Fight Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 7, 2005

Washington, DC ( — With two of his leading opponents bowing out, former Vermont governor Howard Dean appears to be a near lock on becoming the next chairman of the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, pro-life former Indiana Congressman Tim Roemer is the last remaining Dean opponent and he is decrying the party’s pro-abortion establishment’s focus on abortion.

Barring any last-minute developments, Dean is on his way to capturing most of the 447 votes Democratic activists will cast on Saturday.

"It’s over, put a fork in it," Democratic campaign strategist Donna Brazile told Cox News Service about the race.

On Friday, party activists Simon Rosenberg and Donnie Fowler withdrew from the contest, conceding it to Dean, who backs abortion and served on the board of director of a regional Planned Parenthood affiliate.

After taking an informal vote count, Fowler told CNN "it became clear that Howard Dean has the votes to become Democratic chairman."

Dean will head a party that is at a crossroads on abortion.

It is controlled by abortion advocacy groups like NARAL and Emily’s List, but Democrats have lost the last two presidential elections, in part, because of their unbending position in favor of abortion.

In fact, the issue of abortion gave a boost to President Bush. A post-election poll of voters by Wirthlin Worldwide shows that a majority of Americans are pro-life and the abortion issue gave pro-life candidates such as President Bush a twelve percent advantage.

Dean seemingly understands how his party’s losses at the polls require it to be more open to pro-life advocates.

"I have long believed that we ought to make a home for pro-life Democrats. The Democrats that have stuck with us, who are pro-life, through their long period of conviction, are people who are the kind of pro-life people that we ought to have deep respect for," he said on NBC’s "Meet the Press" last month.

In the next breath, Dean signaled his concern with remarks made by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), who indicated last month he thought he could go along with the possible elevation of pro-life Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to the Chief Justice position, if Bush made such a nomination.
"I don’t think that’s where most Democrats are," Dean said. "I sympathized with him because many times in the campaign, I said a few things like that without thinking through the implications of what I was saying."

For Tim Roemer, the lone Dean opponent left in the race, the party still doesn’t get it when it comes to the abortion issue.

The former 9/11 commission members says he understands "the magnitude" of the party’s problems.

He told the Indianapolis Star newspaper in an interview on Friday that Democrats lost the South, the Midwest and 97 of 100 of the nation’s fastest-growing counties.

He said the 2004 loss wasn’t about 100,000 votes in Ohio that could have changed the election outcome. Instead, it was pro-abortion candidate John Kerry’s failure to many any inroads in those two regions.

"We can no longer gamble the outcome of a presidential election on a 15-state battleground strategy," he said. "We had five open seats in the Senate in the South, and we lost every one."

But, Roemer isn’t planning decorations for a new office in D.C. running the party because Democratic activists may talk about a big tent but they fail to deliver on their promises.

"I have had to spend 80 percent of my time talking about abortion," Roemer told the Star.

Roemer found himself the subject of boos and hisses in New York when he discussed the issue at a party regional meeting and NARAL refused to talk to him when interviewing the rest of the candidates for chairman last month. The pro-abortion group actively lobbied delegates against him.

Roemer may benefit from some anti-Dean votes Saturday as the only other candidate left in the race.

Dean has said that he will not run for president in 2008 should he be elected chairman of the Democratic Party. With that in mind, Roemer and pro-life Democrats will stand back and watch to see if Dean does anything to moderate the party’s pro-abortion views and welcome pro-life Democrats.