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Dean says Bush "cut and run" on Katrina By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent
Sat Apr 22, 2:13 PM ET

Democratic Party chief Howard Dean said on Saturday the Bush administration had "cut and run" on Gulf Coast hurricane recovery and created a political legacy of deficits, divisiveness and deceit.

Dean, speaking at the Democratic National Committee's spring meeting, said November's congressional elections would be a choice between real change from Democrats or more of the same from Republicans.

"There has been enough of fear, incompetence and corruption," Dean told DNC members. He said voters would judge President George W. Bush's administration and the Republicans on their slow response to Hurricane Katrina and failure to develop a suitable recovery plan.

"Republicans have cut and run when it comes to rebuilding the Gulf Coast, and we will not do that," he said.

The Democrats chose New Orleans for their spring meeting in part to highlight the administration's heavily criticized handling of Katrina, which killed more than 1,300 people, displaced hundreds of thousands of people and shattered New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Dean said Democrats offered values based on community and opportunity and a more inclusive vision for the future.

"I think Americans are tired of being lectured to by Republicans who have brought a culture of corruption, cronyism and incompetence to Washington," he said. "They offer a legacy of more of the same -- deficits, divisiveness and deceit."

Control of Congress is at stake in November's elections, when Democrats need to gain six seats in the Senate and 15 seats in the House of Representatives to claim majorities.

Dean said the Democratic platform would include a rise in the minimum wage, protection of Social Security, a fix for the Medicare prescription drug plan, tax fairness for the middle class, lobbying reform and a quick transition to local control in Iraq.

He blasted Bush for saying recently that U.S. troops would still be in Iraq into the next presidency. "He got us into it," Dean said. "He owes it to the American people to get us out."

The meeting on Saturday also heard from three Louisiana Democratic officials, each of whom has also faced criticism for their response to Katrina -- Gov. Kathleen Blanco, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (news, bio, voting record) and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, one of 22 candidates in the city's mayoral election being held on Saturday.

Nagin told the DNC members, many of whom performed community service in the battered city during the three-day meeting, he was glad they saw the devastation for themselves.

"Television does not do justice to what has happened to this city," Nagin said. "This country must step forward in a bigger way."

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