SEATTLE - Howard Dean, the one-time front-runner for the Democratic presidential bid, launched a new Internet-driven grass roots campaign on Thursday aiming to recruit and support other Democrats for elective office.
"We have to revitalize grass roots democracy and it is not time to stop now," Dean told a gathering of fervent supporters in Seattle, where he attracted 10,000 people to a rally last summer. That event made him realize at the time that "the fate of the country might be in my hands."
Former Democratic presidential hopeful former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean announces his plans to build a new organization, Democracy for America in Seattle on Thursday March 18, 2004. Dean has a vision of using the Internet and other organizing tools the same ones that propelled his Democratic presidential campaign to push his party back to the dominant position in national politics. (Photo/Kevin P. Casey)
The former Vermont governor led the Democratic presidential field through much of the fall and winter, but once the primary and caucus voting started, he suffered a series of defeats to Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.
But that was behind Dean at the rally as he urged the crowd to do everything possible to help Kerry beat President Bush in November.
"The truth is there is only one person to beat George W. Bush and that is John Kerry, and I intend to do everything I can to send George W. Bush back to Texas and put John Kerry in the White House," Dean said.
Dean said he would focus his energy on supporting his new grass-roots group "Democracy for America," borrowing his "Dean for America" campaign slogan.
"My campaign for the White House may have ended, but the need to take our country back for ordinary Americans is greater than ever before," he said.
Dean said he would continue to solicit contributions at his new group's Web site www.democracyforamerica.com while encouraging more people to vote.
Dean promised that Democracy for America would encourage progressive candidates to "run for office at every level," raise funds for Democratic congressional candidates, build a stronger base of support and "harness the power of the Internet to enlarge and support our grass-roots organization."
His most fervent supporters, gathered at a downtown hotel, interrupted his speech repeatedly with cheers and ovations as he unveiled the steps that his new organization would take.
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