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Al Sharpton & Howard Dean

"During the final debate before the caucuses [in early 2004], Howard Dean faced harsh questions from fellow candidates, particularly the Rev. Al Sharpton. Mr. Dean has often said he wants to lead a national conversation on race, particularly among whites, but Mr. Sharpton said he's not qualified.

"'It seems as though you discovered blacks and browns during this campaign,' Mr. Sharpton said.

"Dean said that although he didn't have any black or Hispanic officials on his Cabinet during his 11 years as governor, there were minorities in state government and on his executive staff. He also pointed to black and Hispanic lawmakers who have endorsed him as evidence of his commitment to improving race relations.

"'I believe I have more endorsements from both the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus than any other candidate on this stage, and I will take a back seat to no one on my commitment to civil rights,' he said.

"But Mr. Sharpton said talking about endorsements didn't answer the question. 'I think you only need co-signers if your credit is bad,' he said."

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