Judy Goldsmith, president of the National Organization for Women, is not a member of the National House Democratic Caucus, as reported yesterday.
A group of Democratic Party leaders, frustrated by President Reagan's ability to dominate the political agenda, yesterday launched an effort to convince the public that their party has new ideas and programs.
The ideas they intend to sell are chiefly those of House Democrats, who have been trying unsuccessfully for the last year to attract attention to a package of party alternatives they developed.
The group, called the National House Democratic Caucus, is made up of 47 House members and 53 other party loyalists, including labor leaders, former officeholders and businessmen. No senators or presidential candidates are members.
The group will be led by Robert S. Strauss, a former national party chairman and President Carter's 1980 reelection campaign chairman, and Rep. Gillis W. Long of Louisiana, chairman of the party's House caucus.
They said the group intends to hold a series of forums around the country beginning in early fall to "help focus the party's programs," attract attention to young party leaders, and "spread the party's message." The group's principal goal will be to try to bridge the traditional gap between the congressional and presidential wings of the party, Long said at a news conference. "We're trying to get everyone to speak in the same voice.
"We want to help win a Democratic clean sweep in 1984," he said. "And we want to help fix a plan of action that a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress will implement together."
Strauss, now a lawyer in private practice, said he believes the party can convince the public it represents a "sensible" alternative to Reagan "if we keep reasonable objectives" and "keep from overpromising." The group includes such figures as C. Peter McColough, chairman of the Xerox Corp.; Vernon Jordan, a former president of the National Urban League; former secretary of defense Clark Clifford; former secretary of defense Harold Brown, and Judy Goldsmith, president of the National Organization for Women.
Charles T. Manatt, chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a longtime political rival of Strauss, is an honorary chairman of the group as is House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.). But some party leaders yesterday privately expressed reservations about the necessity of the effort. Sensitive to this, the group at the last minute changed its name from the National Democratic Caucus to the National House Democratic Caucus.
Long said no senators were invited to join because it was felt "senators would want to do their own thing."
The group's public relations effort is planned to be low budget with perhaps one staff member. From four to six forums are planned, beginning about Oct. 15.
The formation of the group is part of a longterm effort by congressional Democrats to exert more influence in party business.
After more than a year of work, the House Democratic caucus last year published a series of consensus proposals in a "yellow book."
O'Neill yesterday acknowledged that the book received "very little encouragement or attention from the press."
"We don't think the American public has been informed about the new programs of the Democratic Party," he said.