Washington, DC--Below are DNC Chairman Howard Dean's remarks to the Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting on May 31, 2008, as prepared for delivery:
"Thank you all for coming.
"This has been an extraordinary primary season. And we know it will be an historic election.
"The Democratic Party is going to nominate either the first woman or the first African American to be our party's nominee. I believe that the person we choose will be elected president in November.
"Our party is so fortunate to have had such a strong field of Democratic candidates in this race. I want to thank all of our candidates and especially the two outstanding individuals who are now in the race: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
"I know it has been a long and hard fought race. Throughout the course of this campaign you two have helped transform our party.
"You have proven that when we show up and talk about our values, Democrats can win everywhere. You have helped to make our party stronger. So thank you and thanks to your hardworking campaigns.
"While I will not try to gloss over the challenges of this extended primary I do want to take a step back and look at what our hard work has helped to accomplish.
"From Mississippi to Montana, Ohio to Oregon. Americans -- women, men, Hispanics, African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, young people, veterans, homemakers, educators, health care workers, students, retirees, Democrats, Independents and even Republicans, of all shapes and sizes have come out to support our two outstanding candidates and the values we share.
"Over 35 million people have come out to support our candidates all across our country.
"In state after state women represented well over half of Democratic voters, sometimes 60 percent.
"Young voters have tripled and in some cases quadrupled previous turnout - in fact 58 percent of voters under 30 now identify as a Democrat or lean Democratic, while only 33 percent associate with Republicans.
"Consider that in Ohio, twice as many people participated in the Democratic primary as in the Republican primary--2.2 million for Democrats compared to 1 million for Republicans--and thousands of Ohio Republicans switched parties to vote for a Democrat.
"In fact, in seven counties in Ohio--Putnam, Brown, Shelby, Belmont, Warren, Delaware, and Clarmont--the vote totals for our two Democratic candidates in the 2008 primary exceeded the votes for John Kerry in the general election in each of those counties.
"In Texas this year, more people voted in the Democratic primary than voted in the 2004 general election on the Democratic side in the state.
"So while I know it has been a long, tough campaign, it also made our candidates and our party stronger.
"And while the punditocracy in the media tried to tell the American people what to think and what to do, you stood up and spoke loudly to have your voices heard. And you made us all listen. And the race continues to the final contests in Puerto Rico, and on Tuesday in South Dakota and Montana.
"To each and every one of you who has voted and who will yet vote, I say not only thank you, but remind you that our work is just beginning. We need your help. We need you to stay involved in this election and get involved in the other races that are going on in your community and your state.
"We need you to knock on doors, make calls, to talk to your neighbors about what's at stake in this election. Together, state by state, door by door, vote by vote, we are going to take our country back and we cannot do it without you.
"I also want to thank all of you who showed up here on a Saturday to attend the Rules Committee meeting, those of you who are here inside the hall, watching from home or outside. Cynics will look at today's proceedings and look only for conflict, they will not recognize your tremendous commitment to our country.
"They will not realize that your energy, your passion for your candidates and your enthusiasm, demonstrate that our party is strong enough to have disagreements.
"We are strong enough to struggle, and disagree, be angry, disappointed and still come together at the end of the day and be united. The reason we are able to do this is because all of us, together in our passion and our emotion realize that this race is not about me, it's not about Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, the RBC or the reporters who are here to cover the event. It's about restoring our great country.
"Over the course of the primary there have been some tough disagreements and some ugly moments in this campaign. On the blogosphere, and the airwaves. Emotions have run high and heated discussions have led at times to blatantly racist comments and, blatantly sexist comments particularly by some members of the media. We know that those comments have no place in our society and certainly no place in our party.
"It has got to stop. We have got to come together and unite our party. Every one of us has the responsibility to help ensure that our party is united.
"Part of that healing will begin with the discussion you will have today about Michigan and Florida.
"I want to thank the members of the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee, led so ably by Jim Roosevelt and Alexis Herman. Thank you for the countless hours of hard work you've put in to set forward rules that have guided this process and in ensuring a fair process.
"As you work to find a resolution, I ask that you keep three key principles in mind to guide your discussion and deliberation:
- Respect the voters of Florida and Michigan - not only those who turned out to vote, but also those who did not,
- Respect our two candidates and their campaigns who followed the rules this body set forward over two years ago, and,
- Respect the 48 states who did not violate the rules.
"Understandably, the compromise that you discuss here today will not make anyone completely satisfied.
"Years ago a 'Democratic rules discussion' was almost an invitation for a food fight in a crowded room like this of Democratic activists. We've moved beyond that - your actions today will put our party on a course of unity - a unity that will be on display in less than 90 days when we all meet again in Denver to showcase our nominee, the talent of the Democratic Party up and down the ticket and the values we share. This is the unity that will guide our work in the coming months as we work hard towards Election Day to show up and ask Americans to put their trust in Democrats to restore our country. This is the unity that we will show America when we inaugurate a Democratic president in January 2009 and the beginning of restoring our great country."