Video: Iranian election turmoil

updated 6/18/2009 12:51:43 PM ET 2009-06-18T16:51:43

Former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean gave the Obama administration high marks Thursday for its arms-length response to the disputed presidential election in Iran.

"For the United States to overtly interfere with this would be a big mistake," Dean said in a nationally broadcast interview.

The former Vermont governor said whatever moral support the U.S. can give to opposition forces in the Persian Gulf nation must be carefully measured. "Our government is doing exactly the right thing," Dean said on NBC's "Today" show.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley on Wednesday disputed an allegation by the Iranian government that the United States is meddling excessively in its internal affairs, saying the administration is withholding judgment about whether the election was conducted fairly.

Sen. John Kerry also said he backs the administration's handling of the issue, writing in a New York Times op-ed Thursday that "if we actually want to empower the Iranian people, we have to understand how our words can be manipulated and used against us to strengthen the clerical establishment. ..."

The Massachusetts Democrat, who lost to George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential elections, wrote that "we can't escape the reality that for reformers in Tehran to have any hope for success, Iran's election must be about Iran — not America."

Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican whom Obama defeated in last year's U.S. presidential election, has accused Obama of failing to speak out forcefully enough about the Iranian election.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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