Slams Obama's staffers' 'contempt' for liberals

The tea party movement represents "the last gasp of a generation that has trouble with diversity," Howard Dean told an audience Wednesday.

The former governor of Vermont and head of the Democratic National Committee told a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor that he expects the tea party to be a powerful influence in the 2012 election as it was in the 2010 election, but he doesn't see it as the future of American politics.

"I think it's the last gasp of the 55-year-old generation, not the first gasp of a new generation," he said. "It's a group of older folks who've seen their lives change dramatically. The country's not the same ... All of a sudden it's here for them and they don't know what to do ... Every morning when they see the president they're reminded that things are totally different than when they were born."

Dean, who became a folk hero to progressives after his iconoclastic 2004 presidential run, suggested that the Republicans may find it more difficult to attract voters in the future, as the influence of the over-55 crowd wanes. But he said the GOP could still attract new voters, provided they change their message.

“They can get this younger generation," he said. "But they can’t get it on the backs of gays and immigrants, because many of their friends are gays and immigrants."

Dean also welcomed the staffing changes at the White House and criticized current White House staffers who he said had "contempt" for the president's progressive base.

Dean didn't name names, but the comment seemed targeted at Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who announced this week he will be leaving the White House. In an interview with The Hill last summer, Gibbs criticized the "professional left" for their frustration with President Obama's policies, provoking anger among liberals.

Aside from Gibbs, economic advisers Paul Volcker and Larry Summers are also leaving.

"As they say, don't let the door hit you in the you-know-what on the way out," Dean said.

The following video was uploaded to the Web by the Christian Science Monitor.