Howard Dean Makes Fundraising Stop in Birmingham

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean defended the party's handling of the Iraq funding bill Thursday amid criticism that congressional leaders caved in to President Bush over the war.

Speaking to a crowd of about 130 at a 50 dollar-a-person breakfast fundraiser, Dean said Democrats are holding Bush and the Iraqi government accountable in a way Republicans refused.

Liberal groups have criticized Democratic leaders for agreeing to provide war funding without a timetable for the withdrawal of troops.

Dean, who also spoke on the need for ethics reform in Congress, did not take any questions from the audience, and aides physically shielded him from reporters trying to ask questions.

The former Vermont governor will also attend a private, one-thousand dollar-a-person fundraiser in Birmingham after a series of meetings. Money raised by both events will go to theDemocratic National Committee.