MADISON HEIGHTS -Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean made the first of what he said would be many stops in Michigan while speaking at the constitutional convention of the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO yesterday morning.
Dean is a medical doctor who served in the Vermont House of Representatives for four years before becoming lieutenant governor in 1986.
After the death of then-Gov. Richard Snelling, Dean ascended to the state’s highest office. He served as governor of Vermont from 1991 until his final term ended last year.
In his speech, he criticized President Bush and defended the University’s policies on affirmative action.
“I think the U of M has never had a quota system. The only reason (the word quota) was used by the president is to scare people into thinking they would lose their place in universities,” Dean said. “The president played the race card and for that reason he deserves a one-way ticket back to Crawford,” Dean said, referring to Bush’s hometown.
Dean said Bush’s comments regarding a quota system were one of the low points of his presidency.
He also added that the president’s views about the University’s affirmative action policies were even at odds with one of the most conservative U.S. Supreme Courts in recent history.
“We are going to have a little fun today at the expense of the president,” Dean said in his opening remarks, setting the tone for his speech.
Dean said although he supported the first gulf war and the war in Afghanistan, he was not in favor of invading Iraq. He sharply criticized Bush, saying he led the United States to war by using false information about uranium in Nigeria and links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida.
“As commander in chief I will send our troops anywhere. … (But) I will never send them in harm’s way without telling Americans why,” Dean said.
He also added that the war in Iraq was hurting America’s standing abroad, something he promised to change if he were elected president. “We need a new policy. We need a new president. … It’s time to end the formation of public policy based on the petulance of the chief executive of America,” Dean said.
He said it was necessary to shift the balance of power from the “right wing ideologues” back to the working class, a comment for which he received a large ovation.
“This democracy doesn’t belong to Rush Limbaugh or (U.S. Rep.) Tom DeLay or (U.S. Attorney General) John Ashcroft or (Vice President) Dick Cheney. … This flag belongs to every single one us,” Dean said.