The Indianapolis Star
January 12, 2004

Dean's failure to hire minorities criticized

  By Mike Glover
  Associated Press
     DES MOINES, Iowa --
  Howard Dean conceded grudgingly Sunday night that he never named a black
  or Latino to his cabinet during nearly 12 years as governor of Vermont.
     "If you want to lecture people on race, you ought to have the background
  and track record to do that," Al Sharpton snapped at the Democratic presidential
  front-runner in an emotionally charged exchange in the final debate before next
  week's kickoff Iowa caucuses.
     "I will take a backseat to no one in a commitment to civil rights in
  America," Dean said moments later, eager to have the last word.
     Dean, leading in the polls in Iowa as well as nationwide, also drew criticism
  from Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio for saying he could balance the budget
  without cutting Pentagon spending. And Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri
  questioned Dean closely about whether he could cut payroll taxes without
  harming Social Security.
     Dean said he could. "I think cutting the payroll tax is not a bad idea," he
  said. "We will not touch Social Security."
     The debate unfolded a little more than a week before Iowans begin the
  selection of national convention delegates who will pick an opponent for
  President Bush.
     The two-hour debate was billed as the Iowa Brown and Black Presidential
  Forum, designed to focus the contenders on issues of concern to minorities, and
  Sharpton's aggressive questioning of Dean accomplished that.
     "You keep talking about race," the former street activist chided Dean when
  he had a turn to ask a question. He said that not one "black or brown held a
  senior position, not one. . . . It seems as though you've discovered blacks and
  browns in this campaign."
     Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, who is black, as is Sharpton, defended
  Dean. "Rev. Sharpton, the fact of the matter is we can always blow up a racial
  debate and make people mad at each other."
     Moments later, Dean returned to the subject, noting that he has the
  endorsements of more members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the
  Congressional Hispanic Caucus than any other presidential hopeful.
     Recent polling showed Dean and Gephardt in a close race for the lead,
  with Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Sen. John Edwards of North
  Carolina trailing. The outcome will begin the winnowing process in the race for
  the nomination. Dean hopes for a win to validate his claim as campaign
  front-runner. Gephardt's aides say he must win. And Kerry and Edwards hope
  for strong finishes to sustain their campaigns in New Hampshire.