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Dean defends Obama's choice of vice-presidential vetter

The Democratic National Committee chairman played down James Johnson's role in Obama's campaign and hit back at the Republicans at Wednesday's Monitor breakfast.

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Determined: Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

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Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, defended Barack Obama on Wednesday over the presumptive presidential nominee's choice to run his vice presidential search committee.

Senator Obama's "veep vetter," James Johnson, is former CEO of Fannie Mae Corporation, and faces questions about home loans he received from Countrywide Financial, a partner of Fannie Mae, and one of the firms caught up in the subprime mortgage debacle. According to The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Johnson received more than $2 million in home loans from Countrywide that may have had unusually low interest rates.

Now, Obama faces a major diversion from his message of change and getting away from "politics as usual." At a Monitor breakfast on Wednesday, Chairman Dean played down Johnson's role in the campaign and hit back hard at the GOP.

"Johnson doesn't get paid; he's a volunteer," Dean said. "Secondly, since it was a Republican-planted story, obviously it's fair to say that the Republicans are hypocrites, and they are. The guy who's running the McCain campaign is a lobbyist who's on leave, Rick Davis. Then they take plenty of lobbyist money, the RNC [Republican National Committee] takes lobbyist money. So I mean, what is this? This is nuts."

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