Live from Sacramento

I met the Rev. Al Sharpton and got a chuckle out of him when I said I thought it was time for the Black Congressional Caucus to move to the front of the bus, and time for the DLC to move to the back of the bus. Without furthur ado, here is his speech:

I want to congratulate the State of California for giving us the most courageous Senator of all  time Sen. Boxer.  When voters were disenfranchised in Ohio, the Democratic party was trampled, people didn't have the courage to discuss it, Bush was talking about freedom and they wouldn't even discuss it.  Boxer stood up by herselff and said "Let freedom ring."

Barbara Boxer is a profile in courage. She came back during the Senate confirmation hearings and wouldn't let Rice off the hook.  Condelizza Rice is my color, but Barbara Boxer is my kind. I'm not running for chair, but if you get out of your chairs once more I just might.

George Bush is wrong. Was wrong yesterday, is wrong today and will be wrong tomorrow.  People need to see minorities and gays and young people and every color on the stage.  We are not a party defeated. They misused values and we were too cowardly to stand up and say what moral values are.  Morals are 2.2 million living in poverty,  moral values are no health insurance, moral values are men & women dying in Iraq.

Alive in `05, straigten out tricks in `06, and get it straight in `08.  I support Marjorie Harris vor vice-chair.  We will fight together to take America back. This is our land and we will take it back.

The scuttlebutt I've picked up so far is to keep an eye on who Art Torres supports for chair. He's been keeping his ear to the ground and listening to the grassroots. If he doesn't endorse Dean, then the DLC is going to keep fighting Dean for chair. I met Howard Dean's brother and we had an interesting chat. He's very focused on grassroots issues and grassroots organizing. Will from "Democracy for San Francisco" is trying to get the party to focus on training local grassroots activits to go door to door and build a local structure instead of sending outsiders in to knock doors and organize.

The theme of the day is moral values, value and more moral values. We are taking back the issue of moral values. Roe v. Wade, poverty, equal wages, a livable minimum wage, and a clean environment.

Matt just invited me to Rosenberg's meeting. More later

*[Update]* I added a transcript from a Rosenberg Q & A

*[Final Update]* I bowed out of the afternoon Q & A. Everybody favors a 50 state campaign, reform, beef up the grassroots, blah, blah, blah. I'll add a new diary with my personal comments and observations a little later.

I think the public campaign is pretty much over and the battle will move to the back room trenches. Watch for statements of public support from prominant Dems to get a feel for which way the wind is blowing. My gut feeling is that Dean and Rosenberg are the last men standing. The DNC will face outright grassroots rebellion if any other candidate wins.

A plug for Greg Dewar at Schadelman.com (Click on the front page link to Schadelman.com) Greg will be adding his comments on the event later tonight or tomorrow afternoon. Greg and I had some good conversations, and I think he will have some interesting insights. (How's that for subtle pressure?)

In particular, he had an interesting analysis about Move On being able to pull together the structure and fund raising to actually form a viable third party. Chris and Jerome are probably more informed on this than I am, but that was a possibility I had not considered.

(No more additional update information in Extended Diary)

*[Update]* This is as close to a verbatim transcript as I could put together of a Q & A Simon Rosenberg held. Matt Stoller is blogging the caucus as well over at http://blog.simonforchair.org/]

Rosenberg started out with his three events that happened this week:

(1) MLK’s birthday

(2) Bush’s inaugural speech

We have to develop a better message and take it to modern media with modern ways of organizing. Fight every day for our values and fight the battle.

(3) Roe v. Wade - we canot in any way interpret the election as a rejection of Roe. We absolutely must fight for Roe and a woman’s right to choose. No Retreat. Not move away from our historic commitment. Make it clear we are not pro-abortion, but we will not retreat from Roe.

We are the opportunity party for all Americans.

We are the party who will make America safe.

We must lear to express our values.

Changing the way we elect the President. The Iowa and NH primary system has not worked well.

1) Has not worked to elect a Democratic President.

2) People who live in the cities, minorities do not have a voice. We have to open up the process as a party. I am the only candidate who has come out for opening up the primary process.

Q: What should we do about abortion?

A: Make it clear that we have the right position. We have to define it in a way to make our way clear so Republicans do not define it in a way that allows them to take the moral high ground.

Q: 40% of Americans did not vote. how do you engage them?

A: The good news is that % went up. We must make it easier for people to vote. Vote by mail. Oregon had 87% turnout. I was part of the initiative in Oregon. We are on the side of making it easier to vote. New national strategy. Vote by mail is a good place to start. Early voting. Push all the states to figure out a way to embrace voting more fully.

Engage in modern technology, participation, access, a bottom up way of doing business. In natl. polling we run 12% ahead of GOPers. make it clear our party stands on the side of the midddle class. Regular people being involved and the openness of our party is something we have to protect.

Netroots commitment. We have more bloggers involved in our race than any other candidate.

Q: Moral values?

A: A strong aggressive message. We cannot cede the message of moral values and we cannot cede the messagge of faith. We need to create a natl dialog and engage people of faith in a more meaningful way.

It has to be done in conjunction with a commitment to rural areas; a rural strategy. Mike McCurry is working with me in rediscovering the language to reconnect with people of faith.

Q: How do we craft our message of moral values to compete?

A: GOPers are organized and have presented a huge threat to our party.

Q: Iowa and NH are increasingly not representative of the American people. In the first debate, the translators were bilingual. This is an incredible evolution. This made our party stronger. What happened is that we run our natl election around two states. We can strengthen our party and our candidates with a natl focus. We spend millions of dollars telling two states who we are and who our candidates are. I am disappointed in the other candidates for not addresssing this issue.

Q: Healthcare. What are the possibilities of getting a national healthcare message out and how do we get precinct level leadership?

A: In virtually every poll, the single most important issue is the anxiety of losing health insurance. This is a devastating reality for breadwinners. I am not going to evaluation the Kennedy plan or any other plan. Clearly what Kerry did in this issue is put our party on the side of natl healthcare and we need to stay there.

I have made a commitment to a 50 state strategy. I worked with Dean on a 50 state campaign. The natl party has to look at the state parties, get the names from the precincts and build a new partnership with the grassroots. I will make an enormous commitment to the grassroots and creating precinct level leadership. Each state has different problems and we need local solutions.

New Politics Institute - bring together people. Mark Andreeson worked with me on developing and funding, in essence, a think tank to build the party from the ground up. At the end of my four years at the DLC, you think of a 50 state party. That kind of politics does not exist at the DNC or in the states. We need to build a party based on people.

Q:

A: What we’ve learned is that the GOPers are willing to do things we are not willing to do ourselves. We can’t overturn the election. I’m going to borrow Howard Dean’s line, we have to make honest elections a national commitment. This has to be the priority of every state chair, make this a long term goal.

Q: Gay marriage, adoption, gay families?

A: The Kerry campaign suffered as much from ignoring this issue as they would have from engaging it. Kerry got tarred for a position he didn’t take because he didn’t articulate a position. We have to have a public conversation on gay marriage. I’ve committed to a national gay marriage strategy. Creating a national strategy within the DLC about how we talk about gay issues and how we take this issue on straight ahead. I don’t know where this is going to go, but I think the early moral values polls were misleading. If we don’t define what our position on the issues is, we can’t complain because our message is misunderstood.

Q: Gay contract marriage.

A: Our country was founded on a principle of religious pluralism. We have forgotten as a party and a country what our roots really are. What we have to do is engage the moral values conversation on this issue and every other issue. Common purpose and a common sense of community.

Q: When we tried to contact the DNC we were dismissed. What are you going to do to

A: I was attacked for standing up for Dean early on. Howard is a good friend of mine, we’ve done a lot of work together. When we talk about winning in the west or a revival in the South we shouldn’t be talking to Bob Shrumm in D.C. My commitment is that I’ve worked on the ground. My organization ran the largest effort in the Democratic party.

Rosenberg introduces Greg Meeks.

Greg Meeks: We have to turn our party around. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I don’t want to spend the rest of my career as a minority in the House. Not because of Greg Meeks, but because of what it means to the American people. I congratulate Simon, much has been given so much is required.


I'm moving on to another event. More later. One comment first. There is a lot of acrimony and downright anger at the grassroots and netroots level over the choice to chair the DNC. The candidates themselves are dealing with this with a more mature approach that features hardball politics at every level matched with the understanding that at the end of the day George Bush is still public enenmy number one.

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Comments

24 Comments

Question
is any of this going to be on C-span?
by Sam Loomis 2005-01-22 10:19AM | 0 recs
JB excellent report thanks from the peanut gallery
Send more Rev. Al
by leschwartz 2005-01-22 10:22AM | 0 recs
Al
Wonder if he's warmed to Dean yet, or if he will?
by Jerome Armstrong 2005-01-22 10:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Al
Al's beef is with the Jesse Jackson Sr. and Jr. and they both whole heartedly support Dean in all his endeavors...the enemy of my enemy is my friend...or in this case the friend of my enemy is my enemy.
by Parker 2005-01-22 10:37AM | 0 recs
DLC or DNC?
Creating a national strategy within the DLC about how we talk about gay issues and how we take this issue on straight ahead.
Typo?
by kydem 2005-01-22 10:44AM | 0 recs
Re: DLC or DNC?
Typo? or Freudian slip?
by Parker 2005-01-22 10:46AM | 0 recs
Re: DLC or DNC?
I wasn't there which was why I asked.  No one is perfect as we all make mistakes.
by kydem 2005-01-22 10:54AM | 0 recs
Re: DLC or DNC?
Should have been DNC. At first I thought you were referring to the statement that we should tackle gay issues "straight ahead." I don't think it was intended as a joke, but in retrospect I think it's great.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-01-22 12:32PM | 0 recs
JB you rock
Thanks for the updates.
by michael in chicago 2005-01-22 11:01AM | 0 recs
Question
There is a lot of acrimony and downright anger at the grassroots and netroots level over the choice to chair the DNC.

From who?

by Atrain 2005-01-22 12:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Question
This comment was referring to some of the diaries over at dkos and here as well that got somewhat contentious. People feel strongly about the direction the party is going and being good Democrats are not reluctant to express their opinions. I think once the decision is made most of the party and grassroots will rally around either Dean or Rosenberg.

If Frost or Roemer win there will be an awful lot of pissed off liberals who are adamant about the party not being perceived as moving to the right. I had a brief conversation with Roemer after the afternoon Q & A. We may disagree strongly with a few of his positions, but he has very impressive national security credentials and is a very eloquent spokesman for a strong Democratic national defense. I have to check my notes, but I believe Rosenberg came out strongly in support of Roe, but mentioned we have to be clearer about our position so we are not branded as pro-abortion by the GOPers.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-01-22 03:00PM | 0 recs
great stuff....
thanks for the updates.  Who do you think is Dean's major competition?  It looks like its Dean vs. Rosenberg to me.  I think Roemer is done--- he won't be the head of the party.  His performance on television the last few weeks has been dreadful.
by anoodle 2005-01-22 01:40PM | 0 recs
Re: great stuff....
Roemer is actually an impressive candidate and quite eloquent as well as candid about his positions. I'm watching the Sacramento news and they just had a story about several pro-life candidates running for Congress. One of them was running against Santorum in Pennsylvania, I forget his name.

We tend to see Roemer in a negative light because of our strong disagreement with a couple of his positions. Roemer may not be our choice for DNC Chair, but he represents a vital part of the party that is calling for a frank and honest open debate on abortion and how our position is perceived by the public, with more than a little distorting spin from Republican spin meisters.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-01-22 03:13PM | 0 recs
Roemer has multiple negitives
It is not just about choice. Roemer voted for Social Security privatization. He voted against Clinton's budget and for Bush's.

He was v. quietly hissed, by the way, today by many in the audience (i.e., the grassroots.)

And, sorry, but there should be no "frank and honest open debate on abortion" -- it is no body's business what healthcare option I or any woman should choose. Not the government's, not the right winger's and not Tim Roemer's.

by candace in sonoma 2005-01-22 03:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Roemer has multiple negitives
We may not like it, but the battle over abortion is not over. The reason for a frank and honest debate on abortion is for two reasons:

(1) We need to clarify our position. We are not pro-abortion, as the right wing noise machine has branded us.

(2) The battle has been joined once again and we need to re-establish a new consensus. I agree with you comletely, but the wingnuts have been winning the public debate. We need to interject our debate into the national dialogue to re-energize and reactivate our base. The fat lady hasn't sung on abortion yet and if we want the final note to be in our favor we have to take back the debate on our terms, not theirs. Attempts to stifle debate within the democratic party only serves to weaken our position, not strengthen it.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-01-22 05:50PM | 0 recs
no debate
How the right wing has manipulated us should be addressed, yes. Not debated exactly, but fought and stopped. Dr. Dean puts this very well.

We must leapfrog over the divisionary non-issue (aka abortion, aka choice) and land where we can articulate personal freedom and no government interference in my health care choices.

We probably agree.

But overall, the women in and out and around  the Democratic Party will NOT debate choice. Any more than we all will debate the right to vote and the right for our vote to be counted.

by candace in sonoma 2005-01-22 06:31PM | 0 recs
Social Security
It's the last redout.  If you can't defend Social Security, you should get the hell out of the Democratic Party.

If no one thing defines Democrats more, why not Social Security?  It is the one thing we can point to and say, that means "Democrat".  It should be a permant historical right, the same way the GOP can point to ending slavery.

Abortion is worth a debate.

Also, any DNC should end this BS over the gun issue once and for all.  Guns don't kill people; poverty and despair kill people.

An articulated tax reform platform (raising taxes to relieve burdens on strapped local governments) needs to be designed.  If Warner can pull it off in VA, why can't it be done nationally?

Some universal healthcare plan should be revived.  And a guaranteed minimum wage hike.  

Progressive shouldn't just be a word used because liberal has become a swear word.  The Dems need to get back to true progressive policies.

by jcjcjc 2005-01-22 07:41PM | 0 recs
Re: great stuff....
Yes, thanks for posting this.

As far as the crowd went, it was all Dean. The breakfast meeting had grassroots speaker after speaker tell how they were there because of Howard. There were 10-15 of the DNC members there listening -- half from California who heard the same thing last week in LA.

Only time will tell if their vote takes into account all they've heard. I am sure Rosenberg is a good man, but there were 400- 450 people there and the overwhelming majority were solid, serious Dean supporters. no grassroots speaker even mentioned any other candidate.

by candace in sonoma 2005-01-22 04:06PM | 0 recs
Rev. Al says:
"Condelizza Rice is my color, but Barbara Boxer is my kind."
by janfrel 2005-01-22 01:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Rev. Al says:
This was one of my favorite comments of the day. The right wing noise machine is hitting on all cylindars with the bizarre attack that Democrats are racist because of their criticism of conservative minority Republicans. Presumably Democrats would not have a problem with the policies or opinions of Justice Thomas, Condelizza Rice, Armstrong Williams or Alberto Gonzalez if they were demented white men instead of demented blacks and hispanics.

They've used the same tactic on critics of Bush foreign policy by claiming all of their critics are anti-semitic. This is a well tested meme from Mellon-Scaife funded think tanks that they are pushing to the hilt.  

 

by Gary Boatwright 2005-01-22 03:22PM | 0 recs
I Sent
Emails to each representive from Nevada, I am supporting Dean.  I know two of them personally but in passing.  I recieved a reply from the one I don't know and that person indicated it was between Dean and Martin Fowler in their mind.  

Why is this important? I assure you that the Harry Reid camp has made its preferences known in private, yet he (Reid) has enough experience to be able to get out of the way of a steamroller, if one approaches.  

The delegations have to be made aware of who would be unaccaptable candidates also.  I'm not sure they realize how much fund raising power and expertise will evaporate it they choose a wimp.  

Personally, I think that Rosenberg and Dean are neck and neck in my book, but Dean has the national reconition that can overwhelm another, hand picked candidate, recieving DNC backing.

Good Luck

by NvDem 2005-01-22 04:32PM | 0 recs
Whoops:
I ment Martin Frost.... (Turning red-in-face)
by NvDem 2005-01-22 05:02PM | 0 recs
Thanks and more
Thanks for the plug for my site, I'll be posting my own column in a little while on Sunday.

Overall, though, you guys have all done a great job getting the basics down ,and I plan to link to all your posts. Good job!

dewar.journalspace.com

by Schadelmann 2005-01-23 11:10AM | 0 recs
Truer Words Were Never Spoken Than:
I'm not sure they realize how much fund raising power and expertise will evaporate it they choose a wimp.

I think the Greens would suddenly have more people than they knew what to do with.  It could be as big as the rise of the Republican Party after the Democrats endorsed the Kansas-Nebraska Act (which destroyed the slavery-limiting Missouri compromise)

by ItsBeenCalmingForSomeTime 2005-01-23 06:13PM | 0 recs

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