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Hailing Howard: About 400 Democratic activists came out Sunday to hear former Vermont Governor Howard Dean in Manhattan at SEIU 1199’s union hall. Dean, who appeared to have sewed up the race to head the Democratic National Committee as the Forward went to press, seemed to have changed nothing from the standard red-meat stump speech he gave hundreds of times during the Democratic presidential primary campaign. “We are at risk of losing our democracy,” he said, charging that “the far right now controls the White House, the Supreme Court and both Houses of Congress.”

“You cannot trust Republicans with your money,” he said. “Not one has balanced a budget in 36 years.” Democrats “need to stand by our convictions: fairness, social justice, elections where every vote counts,” he said, although he acknowledged that “we need to talk about things differently.”

“We’re not the pro-abortion party; we’re the party where women are allowed to make up their own mind. We’re not the party of gay marriage,” he said, but the party of “fairness” for every American; not the party of raising taxes, but “the party where offshore corporations pay their fair share.”

Regarding foreign policy, Dean said that we need a “national security policy consistent with American morality. It’s not enough to have a strong military. We need to regain the moral high ground we had before this administration took over.”

The two Jewish candidates in the DNC race, former Texas congressman Martin Frost and former Ohio Democratic chairman David Leland, dropped out of the race Tuesday.

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Schumer’s New Mouthpiece: Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, has hired a public relations professional with many Jewish communal ties to be his New York press secretary. Risa Heller, briefly the communications director for Rep. Jane Harman of California, worked for several years at the Washington media firm Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications, which represents United Jewish Communities, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Union of Reform Judaism and other major Jewish communal agencies. A regular columnist on 20-something Jewish life for Washington Jewish Week, Heller, a Bloomfield Hills, Mich., native, also worked as a legislative assistant at Hadassah.

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