Dean Meet-Up tonight in Morrow

By Justin Reedy

Howard Dean, the fiery Democratic presidential candidate causing a stir around the country, won't be visiting the Southern Crescent tonight.

But local residents interested in learning more about Dean's grassroots campaign will get the chance to meet each other and discuss politics at a Morrow restaurant this evening.

The first South Atlanta Howard Dean Meet-Up, a gathering of people who want to discuss Dean's presidential bid and politics in general, is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight at the Roadhouse Grill on Mt. Zion Boulevard in Morrow. Several Dean Meet-Ups have been held around metro Atlanta over the last few months, but this will be the first one on the south side of the city, according to Kimberly Krautter, spokeswoman for Georgia For Dean.

"We're very excited about that meet-up, because it shows the growth of our organization," Krautter said.

The Dean Meet-Ups were started on Meetup.com, a Web site that helps unite people with common interests gather in communities around the country. The gatherings started small, with only about 1,500 people meeting in January, but have since grown quite a bit n about 70,000 people are expected to attend the Dean-themed events in August.

Part of the attraction for the Dean Meet-Ups is the town hall feeling of the gatherings, Krautter said, in which diverse groups of people get together to discuss politics.

"That's the great thing about these events is that you've got all these people with different backgrounds," she said. "But they all have some of the same questions."

About two dozen south side residents have already registered for tonight's event, in which people can ask questions about the candidate, discuss concerns on national issues and watch video of Dean's speeches from around the country.

Those interested in attending may register at www.dean2004.meetup.com, but registration is not necessary to attend. For more information about the event, call the Georgia For Dean hotline at 1-800-469-7131 or contact event organizer Celeste Hyre by e-mail at celeste@georgiafordean.com.

Dean, a medical doctor who entered politics and wound up serving six terms as governor of Vermont, announced earlier this year he was seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2004. In taking on President Bush in his re-election bid, Dean joins a crowded field that includes Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, Dick Gephardt, John Edwards, Bob Graham, Al Sharpton, Dennis Kucinich and Carol Moseley-Braun.