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Inside Politics

Dean announces bid for DNC chair

Dean has been campaigning for the DNC post for the past two months.
Democratic Party
Howard Dean

(CNN) -- Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, whose high-flying presidential campaign crashed a year ago in the political chill of Iowa, announced Tuesday that he will run for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee.

In a statement on his Internet blog titled "I'm running," Dean said that the Democratic Party must cultivate its grassroots and contest every race at every level.

"We will only win when we show up and fight for the issues important to all of us," Dean said in the statement.

He said that the Democrats must become the party of reform.

"The Democratic Party will not win elections or build a lasting majority solely by changing its rhetoric, nor will we win by adopting the other side's positions," he said. "We must say what we mean -- and mean real change when we say it."

Dean's bid was expected, as he has been campaigning for the post for the past two months.

Dean has said that he would not use the DNC chairmanship as a stepping stone for another presidential run in 2008.

Dean, 56, a medical doctor, served a decade as Vermont's chief executive before stepping down in 2002 to pursue what was considered a long-shot bid for the presidency.

Fueled by an innovative Internet campaign and a dedicated cadre of supporters who came to be known as "Deaniacs," Dean drew a sharp distinction with his major rivals by steadfastly opposing the war in Iraq and surged to the top of the polls. He also raised more than $40 million, then a record for a Democratic primary campaign.

But after finishing third in the Iowa caucuses, he gave a much-lampooned election night performance that came to be known as the "I have a scream" speech. Having poured his war chest into Iowa and New Hampshire, Dean was never able to recover.

Dean will join six other candidates in the DNC race: Former Reps. Tim Roemer of Indiana and Martin Frost of Texas; former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb; Simon Rosenberg, head of the centrist New Democratic Network; former Ohio Democratic state chairman David Leland; and Donnie Fowler, a veteran Democratic activist and campaign manager for retired Gen. Wesley Clark's presidential bid.

Kate Michelman, former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, a group that advocates for legalized abortion, has said she will decide this week whether to run for the DNC post.

Abortion rights could become a hot issue with the entry into the race of Roemer, an abortion opponent. Phil Johnston, chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, issued a statement Monday saying that he feels "strongly that a person who opposes a woman's right to choose should not chair the Democratic Party."

"The fact that we lost the 2004 presidential race by a narrow margin should not result in the abandonment of our party's core principles," he said. "The notion that every woman across the nation should be able to control her own body is a basic principle that must be supported by the leadership of the party."

Roemer said Saturday that if elected, he would not try "to steer the party to the right on abortion."

DNC members will pick a successor to outgoing Chairman Terry McAuliffe at a meeting February 12 in Washington, D.C.

CNN's Steve Brusk contributed to this report.

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