Democratic Hopefuls Snub Party Moderates

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By RON FOURNIER
The Associated Press
Wednesday, July 25, 2007; 7:49 PM

WASHINGTON -- Bill Clinton will be there. So will 300 officeholders from more than 45 states. But one thing will be missing when Democrats gather in Tennessee this weekend to discuss how to appeal to moderate, independent-minded voters in 2008: the Democratic presidential field.

Not a single one of the eight presidential candidates plans to attend the Democratic Leadership Council's summer meeting, a snub that says less about the centrist DLC than it does about a nomination process that rewards candidates who pander to their parties' hardened cores while ignoring everybody else.

"They have tunnel vision," DLC founder Al From said of his fellow Democrats.

From said he has nothing against Clinton's wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, or the other seven Democratic presidential candidates. He even understands why they won't attend the DLC meeting.

But that doesn't make him worry any less about the future of his party.

"Presidents are elected in the middle and they are elected by being bigger than their party. Neither parties' activists alone can elect somebody president," From said in a telephone interview from his Washington office. "Democrats have a long history of nominating people, including people who have lost badly. The challenge for Democrats is to nominate somebody who can win the election."

From and his moderate brethren believe that process begins this weekend in Nashville at the DLC's annual "National Conversation." It is billed as a one-of-a-kind forum for the party's rising stars to help shape the ideas and ideology behind a successful 2008 election cycle. The DLC also is launching a new Web site ( http://www.ideasprimary.com) to promote the policies of centrist Democrats, such as:

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire's push for electronic medical records.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' education reforms.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's homeland security and anti-crime initiatives.

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer's cutting-edge energy plans.

These governors hail from different parts of the Democratic ideology spectrum, but they have one thing in common: They are in office because they appealed to voters who hold no firm allegiance to either party.


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© 2007 The Associated Press

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