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Howard Dean at Yearly Kos: "The American People Are With Us"

Howard Dean gave a stirring speech to kick off the Yearly Kos convention this weekend and here are a few highlights:

"Democracy is a value of the democratic party," Dean said. On the GOP 2008 presidential candidates: "Don't they look like something out of the 1950s." On the differences between the parties, he said "we're the ones who believe something is more important than our party, and that's our country.

Dean talked about Democratic efforts to address voting issues in every county and every precinct in America and encouraged all 1,500 Yearly Kos attendees to write their congressmen about H811, the bill to establish better voting machines. "2010, may be too late," he warned.

He pointed out that this coming week would mark the 42nd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and the more votes that are cast "the better it is for our country but also the better it is for Democrats."

Dean applauded the CNN/YouTube debate as a sign of the future and mocked the Republicans for refusing to hold one of their own. "It's ok to make politicians uncomfortable," he said, "it's good for us."

Some of the loudest applause came for Dean's impassioned plea (echoed before Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) in a videotaped speech before him) for a "free, open, commercially unfettered internet that empowers people around the world." He argued that the internet could just be our best weapon in the battle for a democratic world.

Dean defended the record of the Democratic congress and concluded with the most intriguing part of his speech a call to look at the vital importance of younf people in progressive politics. He talked about a generational change and about how young voters are embracing the progressive vision more and more with each election but also want to build bridges beyond it.

"This is not a one day or one election struggle, this is something we need to fight for for the rest of our lives," said Dean. In the end Dean brought the crowd to its feet and I overheard more than a few attendees lamenting that Dean, who was looking fit and supremely confident, wasn't a candidate himself this go round.

Speaking of candidates, the evening ended on a sour note when it was announced that Hillary Clinton, unlike all the other Democratic presidential candidates attending Yearly Kos would not be holding an individual breakout session with attendees. This was met by a chorus of boos only matched during the brief mention of Joe Lieberman's name.

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