Former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean appeared last night on Countdown, to defend his remarks that the Muslim community center project near Ground Zero in New York should be moved to a different location. During the interview, Dean called for a dialogue between 9/11 families and the center's organizers -- and insisted that he was not associating himself in any way with the outspoken opponents on the right such as Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin.
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Keith Olbermann mentioned during his introduction of Dean that Arshad Hasan, the head of the Dean-founded liberal political group Democracy For America, has criticized Democrats -- without directly mentioning Dean -- who have sought to compromise with an "implacable opposition." And Olbermann put tough questions to Dean, such as asking what compromise he can imagine people like Gingrich and Palin would accept.
"Yes, I don't think the Sarah Palins and Newt Gingriches have any interest. They're clearly exploiting this for whatever political gain they think they can get out of it," said Dean. "But I think there are some people of good will, perhaps, including some of the families of the victims that we might actually sit down around a table with. This is a tough issue I think some of my own folks on my end of the spectrum of the party are demonizing some fairly decent people who are opposed to this. And, again, in no way am I defending, you know, the right wing of the Republican Party.
"But there are 65 percent of the people in this country are not right-wing bigots. Some of them really have deep emotional feelings about this. And I think we at least ought to respectfully hear them and sit down with Muslim-Americans and with some of the people that object to this, and have a thoughtful, reasonable dialogue and see what comes out of it. And in order for it to be a fair, thoughtful and reasonable dialogue, you have to be willing to move."