Former presidential candidate Howard Dean addressed Democrats yesterday during the 2004 State Convention of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

Dean energizes
isle Democrats

The former governor accuses
Bush of lying about the reasons
for going to war in Iraq

Former presidential hopeful Howard Dean rallied the Hawaii Democratic Party faithful yesterday, flinging barbs at President Bush and praising Democratic Sen. John Kerry as a worthy successor.

"The American people have already decided if you look at the president's poll numbers, that they do not want to re-elect George Bush," Dean told about 1,000 delegates to the state Democratic convention at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel yesterday.

But voters need to be convinced that Kerry is the right man to take over the country's reins, Dean said.

The former Vermont governor called on Democrats to pull together in community spirit, "a sense we're all in this together."

Convention-goers expected him to fling fiery tirades against Republicans and weren't disappointed.

Wearing an aloha shirt and maile and ilima leis, Dean elicited a number of standing ovations as he blasted Bush's record, particularly on the war in Iraq.

"We do not believe the president of the United States because he was not truthful with us.

"Where are the weapons of mass destruction? Where is the evidence that Saddam Hussein has something to do with 9/11? Where is the evidence that Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida were partners? Where is the evidence that nuclear weapons were on the brink of being developed in Iraq?

"There is no evidence," Dean shouted above rising applause.

"I do not believe that this party ever should support sending our sons and daughters and brothers and sisters to a foreign land to fight without first telling the truth to the American people about why we're going there," Dean said.

Dean held Kerry up as the president more likely than Bush to: restore America's "moral authority" in the world, institute universal health care, improve funding for pre-school programs, end tax-loopholes for the rich and stop shipping American jobs overseas.

Playing off the "No Child Left Behind Act," Dean called for "the next child to be left behind is you (Bush) with a one-way ticket to Crawford, Texas."

Dean said that he expects to continue his recently formed Democracy for America organization, which is endorsing candidates, after the November election.

He said Democracy for America probably will list its first local Hawaii endorsements within three weeks, based on recommendations from Hawaii party officials.

"What happens is that we direct people from our several-hundred-thousand personnel list to look at these candidates and go to their Web sites and if some of them want to make donations, they do," Dean said in an interview after the speech.

Dean closed his speech with a call to elect Democrats at every level of government.

"We've got to pull together and stick together and have an internal discipline and we're going to win," he said.

While there's plenty to blame Bush for, "we also need to blame ourselves, because Democrats didn't stand up in Washington," Dean yelled at increasing pitch over the standing, applauding crowd.

"Had we stood up from day one, we might not be in Iraq... We might not have had tax cuts... Stand up and fight. That's what this is about. Never give up. Never give up. ... We must never again surrender our country... never again.

"This is our country. We built it and we're going to take it back."

Entertainer and radio personality Brickwood Galuteria, who is running against longtime party worker Jimmy Toyama for the unpaid post of Hawaii Democratic Party chairman, praised Dean for scoring "an 11" on a scale of one to 10 for inspiring Hawaii Democrats.

"Are you kidding? I'm jumping out my skin. I'm energized. Everybody was energized. This was the center of the Democratic universe for us. Everything starts here and starts now," Galuteria said. "I think when Gov. Dean left the floor, everybody was ready to go."

The convention concludes today with speeches by senior Hawaii Democratic elected officials and the announcement of the state party chairman, National Convention delegates, presidential electors and state central committee.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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