David Zalubowski, Associated Press
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean jokes with supporters at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

DENVER — Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Thursday that holding the Democratic National Convention in Denver will show the nation that the West has a road map for Democrats to win the White House next year.

"This is going to be the beginning of a new America," Dean told an overflow rally of supporters at the Denver Convention Center.

Dean said Democratic gains in the West show that voters want politicians to focus on collaboration and values. He said those values include fairness, honesty and a system of government for all Americans, not just a chosen few.

Dean had been scheduled to meet with AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and local labor leaders to discuss concerns that Denver isn't friendly enough to organized labor. The DNC said Dean and Sweeney ended up meeting separately with local leaders — and not with each other — after Sweeney's flight was delayed.

A DNC representative, who did not want to be identified, noted that Dean and Sweeney talk frequently and would meet soon to discuss labor's concerns. The representative declined to comment on Dean's meeting with local labor leaders.

Leslie Moody, president of the Denver Area Labor Federation, said the meeting with Dean was a good opportunity for regional and national union leaders to discuss issues, including the lack of union membership at area hotels, to ensure a successful convention.

Moody said she met with Sweeney after he addressed union leaders.

"He said it was an opportunity to meet city leaders and build relationships around issues that come up at every convention," she said.

Both the AFL-CIO and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters claim Colorado has an anti-union bias, and the AFL-CIO has suggested the convention be moved elsewhere.

Shoshana Kregarman, a Denver bookkeeper and lifelong Democrat, said Dean didn't tell her what she could do to move the country forward.