WASHINGTON - Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, who has accused congressional Republicans of "grandstanding" in the Terri Schiavo case, said his party will use it against the GOP in coming elections.
"This is going to be an issue in 2006, and it's going to be an issue in 2008 because we're going to have an ad with a picture of (House Majority Leader) Tom DeLay saying, "Do you want this guy to decide whether you die or not? Or is that going to be up to your loved ones?' " Dean said in West Hollywood, Calif.
"The issue is: Are we going to live in a theocracy where the highest powers tell us what to do? Or are we going to be allowed to consult our own high powers when we make very difficult decisions?" Dean said.
Schiavo, 41, died March 31 at a Pinellas Park hospice after her feeding tube was removed by court order.
As Schiavo faded, congressional leaders called lawmakers back from Easter recess to pass a bill that would allow federal courts to review the decisions of state judges who turned down her parents' efforts to resume her feeding.
Republican National Committee spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said it was troubling to see Dean politicizing the issue.
"It's disturbing that Howard Dean would plot to use the life of Terri Schiavo for political gain," Schmitt said Saturday. "This demonstrates a troubling lack of sensitivity, and one would hope that Democrat leaders in Congress would reject such a strategy.
"The American people expect their leaders to provide solutions and principled leadership rather than overt partisan politicking."