Red Meat.

There were plenty of screams Friday afternoon at Liberty Hall, but none of them came from Howard Dean.

Instead, the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee was cheered enthusiastically by a sign-waving crowd gathered to hear Dean’s message that the party must build its strength in traditionally Republican states such as Kansas.

“We need to go everywhere,” he told the rally. “There is not one county in this state, I don’t care how far west you go, that doesn’t have Democrats. We have to be proud of who we are.”

It was a message gladly received among the Democratic faithful.

Uh, that would be the Moonbat faithful.

“It was wonderful, very energizing, a very positive, powerful message,” said Micheline Burger, who joined nearly 1,000 others in paying $5 to hear Dean, the former presidential candidate. “It gives me a hope there’s a good future ahead of us, as opposed to what we’ve been having the last four years.”

Was that before or after Dean said this…

On abortion specifically, he said, the party must commit to making abortions “safe, legal and rare” while maintaining women’s rights to choose.

“The issue is not abortion,” Dean told the closed-door fund-raiser. “The issue is whether women can make up their own mind instead of some right-wing pastor, some right-wing politician telling them what to do.”

And Dean told the Hiebert fund-raiser that gay marriage was a Republican diversion from discussions of ballooning deficits and lost American jobs. That presents an opportunity to attract moderate Republicans, he said.

“Moderate Republicans can’t stand these people (conservatives), because they’re intolerant. They don’t think tolerance is a virtue,” Dean said, adding: “I’m not going to have these right-wingers throw away our right to be tolerant.”

And concluding his backyard speech with a litany of Democratic values, he added: “This is a struggle of good and evil. And we’re the good.”

Yep, that’s what he said, Republicans are evil. How does that jive with the feelings of Ms. Burger, who thought that Dean’s message was wonderful and “very positive”?

Back at Liberty Hall, the ruling party’s supporters weren’t entirely absent from the area. Lawrence entrepreneur Eric Haar held a one-man demonstration in front of the Eldridge Hotel, 701 Mass. With a Bush-Cheney sign in his hand, he sat silently as the crowd of Lawrence liberals shuffled toward the event.

“I just want to show people driving by that not everybody is gung-ho and crazy about this Howard Dean thing,” Haar said. “I have been flipped off four times.”

Oh yeah, my kind of “positive, wonderful TOLERANT message”.

Inside the hall, some people who saw Dean’s speech thought the former candidate for the presidency had watered down his rhetoric.

“I feel like he could have gone even stronger with his language,” said Katherine Dessert, a student and preschool teacher. “I feel like he was a little bit too conservative. It didn’t move me.”

This is today’s Democratic Party.

Howard Dean, too conservative? Just how will Hillary’s “go to the center” style of campaigning mesh with a constituency like this? There’s obviously going to be a Clinton/Dean showdown in the not too distant future. The unfortunate thing is, it’ll all be done behind closed doors. A pity.

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