Joining more than 1,500 groups across America, the Yale College Democrats Coalition for Howard Dean ’71 hosted a house party Monday night in Branford College to wrap up the Democratic presidential candidate’s strong third quarter of fund raising.
Dean, the former governor of Vermont, has emerged as the front-runner in the Democratic presidential race — a status that many in his campaign attribute to grass-roots efforts like phone calls he made Monday night to a number of student gatherings. Dean has had a strong presence on the Yale campus in recent months, from a speech at a rally in August in support of striking Yale workers to “Howard Dean Visibility Day” on Sept. 20.
“People feel that he’s honest and speaks the truth,” said Abraham Koogler, ’06, treasurer of the Coalition for Howard Dean. “By speaking clearly to young people, he’s been able to tap into their power.”
The gathering in Branford, advertised online as part of the campaign’s “National House Party Day,” even attracted interested voters beyond the Yale campus. Kelly Monaghan ’67 and his wife, Sally, came from Branford to learn more about Dean’s run for the White House.
“I’m intrigued by how much support Dean has gained without being at the forefront of the mass-media,” Monaghan said.
Introduced by rock musician Melissa Etheridge, Dean expressed gratitude in his house call for the volunteers across America that have worked without pay for his campaign. He described his efforts to raise political participation as a “Second American Revolution.”
Over a handful of calls from parties across the country, Dean entertained a variety of issues, such as tax policies, gay rights and global warming. While alluding to his success as governor of Vermont in bringing government services to increased numbers of citizens, Dean assailed the President George W. Bush ’68, calling the United States a “country that has lost its way.” Dean, well-known for his unabashed attacks on the Bush administration, accused the government of being “weak on defense” with regard to its policies in Iraq and North Korea.
“For the past two and a half years, no one has wanted to be like America,” Dean said.
Dean’s success has come largely thanks to Internet-savvy followers across the country, who have banded together in support of his candidacy. On Meetup.com, a Web site independent of the Dean campaign used to bring people with common interests together, more than 117,000 Americans have signed up to contact other Dean supporters.
Koogler cited Dean’s ability to raise considerable funds through small contributions from many individual Americans as an indication of his ability to galvanize voters across America — and as a characteristic that distinguishes him from Bush, who has a more corporate approach to fund raising. Since making his way into national headlines over the summer, Dean has raised nearly $13 million. The campaign’s fund-raising goal was $15 million by Tuesday.
In his Monday night call, which wrapped up the third quarter of fund raising, Dean likened other Democratic candidates to “Old Washington,” contending that they have been unable to treat voters like adults by saying what they honestly believe. He expressed doubt in the ability of his competitors, many of whom are seasoned Congressmen, to incite change in the White House when they have been unable to bring about promised reforms such as universal health care.
“Some of the candidates were even Republicans until 25 days ago,” Dean said.
Koogler said that the Coalition for Howard Dean will be organizing many other events on campus as the campaign intensifies in the coming months.