If Democrats want McAuliffe's gains for the party -- including fundraising, voter lists, e-mail lists, and getting out of debt -- and to build on the energy of Howard Dean, "We need a vision, we need a program, we need unity, and we need clarity -- and you can do it."
Clinton also tried to buck up a party left licking its wounds after November's loss, urging the faithful not to believe commentators who say the sky is falling and Democrats can't win, either because they give Clinton credit for too much (comparing himself to Michael Jordan with a 4-foot vertical jump), blame him for the party's problems, or say that Democrats are splitting the difference between themselves and Republicans. "That is a lie -- a factual lie," Clinton said. And "when all these people tell you we're about to be buried, tell them to get a life and look at history."
Kerry "warmed" the crowd up by ticking off McAuliffe's accomplishments in improving the party's organization and outreach, promising that the grassroots are the way Democrats will win -- beginning with 2005 governor's races -- Corzine in New Jersey and Kaine in Virginia.
Kerry also looked forward to Saturday, and the coronation of Howard Dean.
"I watched him campaign with an energy and affection for the country that is special. It's not often that people running against each other can turn around right away and work together. We didn't just become political friends; we became real friends."
The party will continue to grow under Dean, Kerry said, and mentioned his $1 million check to the party to continue grassroots party building.
Poignant moment: a chance encounter between Joe Trippi, Dean's former campaign manager, and Jimmy Dean, Dean's brother. The two chatted politely for about a minute, and then Trippi implored Jimmy Dean to tell Howard "how proud I am of him. Really. Just tell him that." Trippi was on the verge of tears.
We also thought it was classy that Jack Oliver came, although he looked a little fish-out-of-watery to our eyes.
The Washington Post's Dan Balz looks at the rather candid, unquiet exit of DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe, who at this late date is throwing a little criticism at John Kerry's decision not to go after President Bush in his convention speech and his slow-off-the-mark response to the Swift Boat ads, and how the issue of abortion rights continues to be tough for the party, particularly in the chair's race. LINK
The Washington Post's Peter Carlson reviews the par-tay. LINK
National Journal's Political Insiders Poll, out today, shows that out of 46 Democratic insiders asked, 38 said they thought Howard Dean would have either a '"very positive" or "somewhat positive" impact on the party as DNC chairman. The 38 Republicans were split, with 14 saying they thought he'd have a positive impact, 22 saying he'd having a negative impact, and 2 sitting this round out.
Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times sees a new attitude among Democrats, personified by Howard Dean and realized through a more combative style, as a way for them to put the screws to the President during his second term. They're more likely to throw down and less likely to accommodate this time around, but the combativeness could be due more to anxiety than a feeling that their footing is secure. LINK