Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) and former senator John Edwards (D-N.C.) distanced themselves over the weekend from remarks by Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, who is facing criticism for the pace of the party's fundraising.
Dean, who inspired a passionate following when he ran for president in 2003-04 and showed the potential of Internet fundraising, has been as unpredictable with his public remarks since becoming party chairman in mid-February as his Republican counterpart, Ken Mehlman, has been on message.
Biden made his comment on ABC's "This Week" after the host, George Stephanopoulos, played a clip of Dean saying Thursday that perhaps Republicans can wait in line to cast ballots because a "lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives."
Asked whether Dean is doing the party any good, Biden said, "Not with that kind of rhetoric. He doesn't speak for me with that kind of rhetoric. And I don't think he speaks for the majority of Democrats. . . . I wish that rhetoric would change."
Edwards, the party's vice presidential nominee last year, said at an annual party fundraising dinner Saturday in Nashville that he disagreed with Dean's comment. "The chairman of the DNC is not the spokesman for the party," Edwards said, according to the Associated Press. "He's a voice. I don't agree with it."
Mehlman, appearing on his first Sunday talk show since becoming Republican National Committee chairman in January, said on NBC's "Meet the Press": "I'm not sure the best way to win support in the red states is to insult the folks who live there. I think that a better approach might be to talk about the issues you're for."
Dean, who portrays himself as a fighter, clarified his comment a day later to say that he was referring to the Republican leadership, not to ordinary Republicans.
Dean's aides, who have declined invitations for him to appear on television with Mehlman, said he was unavailable to comment on the reaction because he was traveling to Seattle for a Women's Leadership Forum fundraiser and a "DNC Low Dollar Fundraiser." His spokeswoman, Karen Finney, said: "He is a voice of the party, not the only voice. We have different voices in our party. But we are all committed to rebuilding our party and getting our country back on track."
A recent article in Business Week was headlined, "Howard Dean's Raised Voice Isn't Raising Cash." The national Democratic Party raised about $18.6 million in the first four months of the year, compared with $42.6 million for the RNC. Finney said the Democratic Party is now raising $1 million a week.
White House Cancels Briefing for Catholics
Each year, a few dozen well-heeled golfers come to Washington for a 36-hole tournament to benefit Crisis magazine, a conservative Catholic publication.
The entry fee -- $2,000 a person, $3,500 for a twosome, or $6,000 for a foursome -- is pretty steep for two rounds on a Haymarket, Va., course available to the public for $65. But these golfers have had the opportunity in recent years to attend a White House briefing arranged by Deal W. Hudson, former publisher of the 32,000-circulation magazine.
"Again we invite you to a special White House briefing the next morning, Tuesday June 7. Please indicate your interest on the enclosed registration form," Hudson wrote in this year's invitation.
On Thursday, the Bush administration canceled the briefing after receiving an inquiry from the Washington Times. "The inclusion of a White House briefing on a fundraising letter is wholly inappropriate," White House spokesman Trent Duffy said.
During his 2000 campaign, George W. Bush criticized President Bill Clinton for entertaining big donors at the White House. But the cancellation of the briefing was an unexpected rebuke to Hudson, who worked closely with presidential adviser Karl Rove to develop Bush's strategy for wooing Catholic voters.
Hudson said yesterday that he could not remember how many briefings have taken place in conjunction with the tournament, now in its seventh year. The golfers, he said, were just a few of the many Catholics he has invited to briefings by H. James Towey, director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and other White House officials.
"It was a mistake for us to mention it in our invitation letter to the tournament, because it created a perception problem," Hudson said. "It's never been flagged before, and now that it has, I agree it shouldn't have been there."
Last fall, Hudson resigned as chairman of the Republican National Committee's Catholic outreach effort and stepped aside as publisher of Crisis after allegations of sexual misconduct. He has since become director of a think tank, the Morley Institute, and author of a weekly e-mail report, the Window.