Dean Urges Dems to Court Evangelical Christians

The national chairman of the Democratic Party used a speech in Reno tonight to reach out to a constituency usually aligned with Republicans -- evangelical Christians.

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean said in a speech to about 500 at a Reno hotel-casino that Democrats are poised to recapture the White House because they are the most fiscally responsible party and will end the war in Iraq.

But he also said that the 2008 presidential election may ultimately hinge on evangelical Christians he says are undergoing a "generational change" that emphasizes social responsibility over social conservatism.

Dean says he's never seen gay marriage mentioned in the Bible. But he says there are many references to inclusiveness and helping the poor.

The 2004 presidential candidate says Democrats have made mistakes in the past by writing off some groups, like evangelicals. He says he's determined this time around to take no voter for granted.

Dean says Democrat presidential nominee John Kerry won only 19 percent of the evangelical vote in 2004 and that Democrats as a whole carried 25 percent in 2006.

He says President Clinton used to win fully one-third of that vote and he says that may be the key to winning states like Arkansas and Louisiana, and ultimately the White House.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)