Dean Kicks Off College Tour, Criticizes Bush

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean criticized President Bush for his policies on affirmative action during a speech kicking off his tour of colleges at Howard University.

Dean used the forum in front of a mostly black audience to harshly criticize President Bush for using “the race card” by selecting the word ‘quota’ to describe the admissions system at the University of Michigan.

“Every pollster and every politician in America knows that the word quota is a race-loaded word,” Dean said. “It’s deliberately designed to appeal to people’s fears that they’re going to lose their place in a university or their job to a member of a minority community.”

Joe Trippi, Dean’s campaign manager, said Dean is building on an already established network of energetic youth supporters to connect with the college and high school vote.

“I think we’ve got a much better idea of how to reach people over the Internet and use that as a communication tool,” Trippi said on a flight to Dean’s next event at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. “Clearly, we’ve got to continue to do outreach. That’s what this tour is about.”

In his speech, Dean stressed the need to appeal to younger minority voters, especially blacks, whom he described as part of the base of the Democratic party.

“We are going to dance with the folks that brought us to the dance,” Dean said.

Generation Dean press secretary Michael Whitney said Dean “doesn’t need to talk to people at Howard about affirmative action,” and Dean echoed the need to highlight such issues with white voters.

Many students in the audience of 300 cheered Dean’s statements on affirmative action; however, none of the 54-year-old’s quips went over better than his slams of Bush.

“It seemed like it wasn’t his first time talking about [affirmative action],” said Sarah Lake, a 19-year-old sophomore at Howard. “He wasn’t just talking about affirmative action because he was at Howard.”

Some in the audience said they were not impressed with Dean’s attempts to reach out to young black voters.

“It was generic at best,” said Sean Superville, 20. “He said the catch phrases to appeal to the African-American vote.”