Farewell Address by DNC Chairman Howard Dean as Prepared for Delivery
Washington, DC - The following prepared remarks were delivered by Governor Howard Dean at the Democratic National Committee's Winter Meeting in Washington, DC:
My friends, let me begin by thanking you for the opportunity to lead this Committee and this Party for the last four years. After logging more than 727,000 miles visiting Democrats in all 56 states and territories, I say with confidence that I return to you a Party stronger than the one we inherited four years ago.
That could not have happened without you, and all the hard work you have done in your states. It could not have happened without the dedicated, talented and hard working staff at the DNC and your state parties. It could not have happened without the leadership team we assembled at the DNC, including the outstanding slate of Vice Chairs with whom I have had the privilege of serving for the last four years. Please join me in thanking them all.
At our Winter Meeting in 2005, you elected me as your chairman. Together we set out to rebuild our Party from the ground up in every neighborhood and every community in America.
Together, we pledged that we would never run another 18 state campaign. We promised to compete in every state, for every level of office. We promised to stand up for our Party and fight for an agenda that reflects our values. We promised to show up everywhere and ask everyone for their vote.
We promised to modernize our Party, renew our commitment to the grassroots, expand our donor base and draw young voters and new voters into the Party.
And that is exactly what we did.
Barack Obama won 9 states that President Bush won in 2004. We picked up 8 Senate seats in 2008 and 6 in 2006. We won in places like Alaska and North Carolina-states where no one thought Democrats could be competitive. But we knew better.
We picked up 24 House seats last year after winning 31 in 2006. We had 22 Democratic governors when you elected me your chairman. Today we have 29.
Our Party now controls at least 60 of the nation's 98 state legislative chambers, which will not only impact redistricting, but will make our Party's bench even stronger.
We brought in more than 1.1 million new donors and raised more than $330 million this cycle.
We created a national voter file for the first time in our Party's history. We improved micro-targeting models and developed 21st century campaign tools that merged traditional organizing with new technology.
We reached out to people of faith and invested in regions of the country that hadn't voted for Democrats in quite some time - places like the Southwest and the Southeast.
We reached out to young voters and new voters, and recommitted ourselves to seeding the grassroots of our party.
We registered millions of new voters, and brought approximately 24 million young Americans to the polls --- with 66% percent of them voting for Barack Obama.
We responded to widespread electoral irregularities in 2000 and 2004 by creating a professional, year-round voter protection effort to make sure that every voter who wants to can cast their ballot and have their vote heard.
In other words, we rebuilt our Party and took our country back.
What we have accomplished together over the last four years has been nothing short of remarkable. But I want to be clear. None of it would have been possible if we didn't have the best candidate and the best campaign in my lifetime.
At our Winter Meeting in 2007, we were fortunate to hear from the most impressive slate of primary candidates ever fielded by any Party. One of those candidates was the man sworn in yesterday.
In the two years since, America has come to know Barack Obama as a truly transformational leader in American politics. He was as incredible candidate who inspired a new generation of young Americans and new voters to come out, get involved, and change their country.
President Obama led more than a campaign. He inspired a grassroots movement and won a broad and diverse coalition of voters of all backgrounds in every part of the country. He set a new direction and a new tone for our nation and our politics, and people responded. I have no doubt that Barack Obama will be a great President and Joe Biden will be a great Vice President.
Let me also be clear about one more thing: As much as we have accomplished together these last four years, our work is not done.
This has been a truly historic and transformational election --- one that reflects the passing of the torch to a new generation. This new generation wants us to put aside the divisions of the past and come together around the shared task of building a common future. Barack Obama was right in 2004 when he said there are no red states or blue states. There are only American states, and we all share the same values. If we are to keep those voters engaged, and keep them in the fold we need to keep the promises we made.
We cannot afford to lose the millions of new voters and young voters who participated in this campaign for the first time. We have to keep the promises we made, and keep finding ways to engage them.
We won in the West and the South because we showed up and asked people for their vote. But we cannot become complacent. We all know that the political landscape can change very quickly. We need to keep showing up and keep asking people for their vote or we can lose those parts of the country just as quickly as we won them.
We must continue to reach out to people of faith. Barack Obama doubled his support among white evangelicals. But we must continue to look for common ground and areas where we can work together. This is not only important for our Party, it's important to healing our country.
We erased the Republican Party's technological advantage in one cycle. But they will not stand still, so we cannot afford to either. We must continue to invest in the technological infrastructure of our Party and build new tools to keep a new army of grassroots activists engaged.
In Governor Tim Kaine, President Obama has picked the right man to build on our accomplishments.
When I was working with Tim's campaign for governor in 2005, I knew then he would become one of our Party's great leaders. Under his leadership, Virginia was named the best managed state in America. I know he will bring that same leadership to the DNC.
Governor Kaine understands the importance of reaching out to everyone and standing up for our values. He knows that the strength of our party comes from the bottom up and will continue the grassroots approach that has made our party so successful.
Tim is the right choice to lead the Democratic National Committee into this new era of American politics and to support President Obama's agenda.
I have always believed that our values are core American values. We value work over wealth, tax policies that invest in the middle class, fiscal discipline, and equality and justice for all. Those are core American values. What we have lacked is a full time, professional party to help communicate those values and organize around them and a leader to inspire people to the cause. In President Obama, that is exactly what we have.
I am humbled by what we have accomplished here over the last four years. Today, we have a great president and vice president and a Party that is stronger than ever. And we did it by empowering people to take ownership over their democracy. Together, we moved our country forward.
Farewell Address by DNC Chairman Howard Dean as Prepared for Delivery