The day before he was elected chair of the Democratic National Committee last week, Dean went to the leaders of different Democratic constituencies outlining an approach that will emphasize outreach to evangelicals and people of other faiths. His talks sought to distance himself and the Democratic Party from an image as a secular party out of touch with common Americans.
To a standing-room-only caucus of women Democratic leaders, Dean urged them to learn to talk and cooperate with people of faith. "People of faith are in the Democratic Party, including me," Dean declared.
In response to a question from CT, Dean said, "We are definitely going to do religious outreach. Even in my campaign I was interested in reaching out to evangelicals." Later, Dean tactfully expanded his remarks, noting "our religious outreach will not solely be to evangelical Christians but to Americans of all faiths."
Earlier in the week, congressional Democrats hosted a study session with University of California-Berkeley linguist George Lakoff on how to communicate the Democratic commitment to moral and religious values. The congressional Democrats also asked evangelical Jim Wallis, a veteran of many left-leaning causes, to teach Democratic press secretaries on how to reach evangelical audiences. Wallis told CT that he foresees a rising presence of evangelicals among Democratic leaders. Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives designated Congressman James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the son of a minister, as their leader of a "faith working group.
To reach the voters alienated from the Democratic Party, Dean has been studying the way that the Christian Coalition built its movement, according to people who have spoken with the former governor. He ...