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Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Howard Dean book-signing draws hundreds
By Jim Brunner
At a University District book signing yesterday, a woman burst into tears at the very sight of him.
And the story of his candidacy was recounted in reverent terms at a morning news conference as an inspiration for liberal Democrats to get organized and run for office at every level of government.
The former Vermont governor was in town to promote his new book, "You Have the Power," a brief memoir of his presidential campaign that is part angry screed against the media, weak-kneed Democrats and right-wing Republicans, and part exhortation to his supporters to stay involved in politics.
Dean yesterday also lent his halo to a political-action committee's news conference endorsing 51 Democratic candidates for the state Legislature. And he appeared at a fund-raiser with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Washington's congressional Democrats.
At University Book Store, a couple hundred fans lined up to get him to sign copies of his book and, in many cases, to thank him for giving early voice to the anger many felt toward the Bush administration. Dean has tried to turn his organization, Democracy For America, into a permanent effort to organize Democrats around core party principles.
"I think that there are a lot of people in this country who have felt totally ignored and almost despised by the political establishment," Dean said of his devoted following.
"There are a lot of people in the country who want to be part of a community again. They feel like they've been cut out of that, and I don't cut people out."
Bill Swedish, of Mukilteo, who showed up for yesterday's book signing, said that was true for him.
"I was totally uninvolved in politics prior to Dean," said Swedish, an unemployed tech worker who said he first got excited about Dean after reading on the Internet about his opposition to the invasion of Iraq.
Dean's book recounts the quasi-religious-revival experience that his early campaign rallies became for many Democrats who felt like no one else was standing up to Bush.
Dean's book also acknowledges his contempt for most of the news media, which he describes as a "failing institution" that puts entertainment value above serious reporting.
Although Dean generally was regarded as a moderate when he was governor of Vermont, he appeared yesterday as the patron saint of liberals.
Gloria Totten, executive director of Progressive Majority, a PAC backing liberal Democratic candidates, introduced Dean at a morning news conference as "the man who woke us up." She predicted his grass-roots brand of politics "will transform politics state by state."
Dean said the Democrats need to organize in a way reminiscent of the Republican Party's effective organizing over the past two decades from the School Board to Congress.
"We believe that the Republicans have a 20-year head start on hijacking this country," Dean said.
Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or email@example.com
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