Dean urges party unity

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean on Sunday stressed the need for the party to remain united, even in the face of the sometimes bitter fight for the presidential nomination and the lack of clarity over what will happen to delegates from two key states.

Dean reiterated that delegates from Florida and Michigan will be seated at the party’s national convention, despite an ongoing debate over how the two states will weigh in on who the Democratic nominee will be.

This week, Dean has taken a more public role in that debate, hoping to keep the party together amidst the prolonged nomination fight between Sens. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaAll five living former presidents to attend hurricane relief concert Overnight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance | Puerto Rico's water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Interior moves to delay Obama’s methane leak rule MORE (D-Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). While the former first lady’s camp has called for the results of both states’ primaries to count in some way, the Obama campaign has questioned their validity, noting that neither candidate campaigned in the states and that the Illinois senator was not on the ballot in Michigan.

Dean said on CBS’s Face the Nation that the party and both candidates will find a way to seat both states’ delegates, indicating that a solution will be found once all superdelegates have picked a candidate and a nominee has been chosen. Dean hopes that this will happen sooner rather than later.

“The elections were flawed,” Dean said. “There’s no question about that, particularly in Michigan, where there was only one candidate on the ballot. On the other hand, that wasn’t the voters’ fault. And the voters ought to have some say. The voters in Michigan and Florida are important to us.”

Dean, who met with both states’ delegations in recent days, said that both Florida and Michigan had broken party rules by moving up their primaries in the nomination schedule. For those contests to count after the party said they wouldn’t, both candidates would have to agree to a solution, he said.

Asked how he will avoid a nasty fight at the convention, Dean said that the presidential race is more about changing the country’s direction. Democrats, he said, will be unified against Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

“The only thing that is going to make John McCain president is disunity among Democrats,” he said “And we cannot afford four more years, essentially, of George W. Bush.”

After Dean called McCain a “flip-flopper” and wrong on Iraq, the economy and healthcare, the Republican National Committee pushed back, saying that his statements defy “both logic and reality.”

“It is now clear that Dean’s inability to rein in members of his own party has resulted in a desperate and futile effort to launch false attacks on Senator McCain’s record,” said RNC spokesman Danny Diaz in a statement.