by Steven Ertelt
April 16, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — New Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean told about 200 people at a gay rights breakfast in Hollywood that he plans to have the party use the controversy over Terri Schiavo against Republican candidates in the 2006 and 2008n elections.
Though Republicans were accused of backing a bill to stop her starvation and help her parents for political reasons, the Los Angeles Times reports Dean said directly he would do just that.
"We’re going to use Terri Schiavo later on," Dean told those at the dinner, according to a Times report.
"This is going to be an issue in 2006, and it’s going to be an issue in 2008," Dean said. "Because we’re going to have an ad with a picture of Tom DeLay saying, ‘Do you want this guy to decide whether you die or not? Or is that going to be up to your loved ones?"
House Republican Leader Tom DeLay has been one of the leading lawmakers involved in the Terri Schiavo battle, and helped pass the legislation Congress approved on a strong bipartisan vote.
He criticized the judges who did not follow the law Congress passed, though recently apologized for the abrasiveness of his comments.
Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, was distressed y the remarks and said Dean is looking for "political gain" to come from Terri’s plight
Dean’s "outrageous remarks help underscore why Dean is the leader of the minority party," she said.
"Terri Schiavo was never about partisan politicking, but instead about a woman’s life," she told the Times newspaper. "
"This demonstrates a troubling lack of sensitivity and one would hope that Democrat leaders in Congress would reject such a strategy," Schmitt added. "The American people expect their leaders to provide solutions and principled leadership rather than overt partisan politicking."
Dean’s comments come just days after he told USA Today that his party should stop "speaking down to voters" who oppose the party’s view on controversial issues like abortion.
According to an Associated Press account of the dinner, Dean added, "The issue is: Are we going to live in a theocracy where the highest powers tell us what to do? Or are we going to be allowed to consult our own high powers when we make very difficult decisions?’"
Karen Finney, a spokesman for the Democratic Party, defended Dean’s comments and told AP, he was speaking to "Republican intrusiveness into people’s lives."