NEW YORK (AP) — Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has a message for President Barack Obama: Reclaim progressive voters or risk both re-election and the future of the Democratic Party for years to come.
Dean, the former Democratic National Committee chairman and one-time presidential contender, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Obama has "clearly upset members of his base" on issues including tax cuts and allowing gays to serve openly in the military. Obama stands to lose both the presidency and his party's credibility if he doesn't reverse course before 2012, Dean said.
"You take care of the people who sent you to the office," he said in an interview. "There are hundreds of thousands of people under 30 who slept on floors for two years to make sure Barack got elected. You can't turn your back on those people because if you do, it's going to be hard to find any friends."
Dean, whose 2004 presidential bid was largely fueled online by young, activist voters, is a prominent spokesman for the party's progressive wing. While he has frequently criticized the president, Dean announced through a spokeswoman earlier this month that he would not mount a primary challenge against Obama in 2012.
He dismissed Obama's efforts to court conservatives as "a waste of time" even as the president was meeting with Republican congressional leaders at the White House for the first time since the midterm elections.
Dean noted that Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to make Obama a one-term president.
"You can't deal with people like that — you're not going to placate the conservatives," Dean said. "They're out to get you and they've placed that as their highest interest."
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