Howard Dean spoke to the National Baptist Comvention today in Miami.  He said the words that needed to be said about the situation in New Orleans.  

“Dean, in remarks interrupted several times by applause, charged that Republicans in Congress and the Bush administration have not done enough to combat poverty. The pictures of primarily black storm evacuees huddled at the dank Superdome and stranded on rooftops, Dean charged, showed “the ugly truth that skin color, age and economics played a significant role in who survived and who did not.”

“The question, 40 and 50 years after Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, is: `How could this still be happening in America?’ ” Dean said, later adding: “We have not swept poverty away in this nation. We have simply swept it under the rug.”

He went on to say that Republicans were more interested in repealing the inheritance tax for the wealthiest Americans than hurricane relief. The estimated $750 billion cost of the tax cut, he said, would be better spent rebuilding the battered Gulf Coast.
He then had several more powerful quotes.

Dean, who refused to take questions from reporters, told the Baptist group meeting at a downtown hotel that he was speaking “not as chairman of the Democratic party, but as an American.”

Yet he repeatedly sought to lay claim to the so-called “morals” issue that some pollsters suggested cost Democrats the presidency in 2000. Moral issues, the new Democratic chief said, should apply to poverty and universal health insurance – not abortion and gay marriage – two issues with which some conservative black clergy side with the GOP.

“The moral choices in America are not about hot-button social issues that get everybody mad,” Dean said. “Moral choices are about making sure that folks don’t drown at a nursing home before they can get evacuated.”

Dean didn’t outright criticize the pace of federal recovery efforts – as other Democrats did Wednesday with vehemence – but he suggested that GOP priorities have made a bad situation worse.

“Americans deserve better from their leaders,” he said in remarks prepared for delivery.”

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