- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Democrats should emulate the policies of Bill Clinton and ignore “the noise” of their liberal base if they want to win national elections, said a leading moderate Democratic group.

In advance of their “national conversation” event scheduled in Denver this weekend, Al From, chief executive officer of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), and Bruce Reed, council president, met with reporters yesterday morning in a wide-ranging discussion that included a preview of their plan to help Democrats win control of Congress this year and the White House in 2008.

However, the two Democratic leaders bristled at mention of the so-called “netroots” base of liberal online activists. “Narrowing the party will not win elections,” Mr. From said when asked about the left’s fiery rhetoric. “It doesn’t matter how much noise there is. … A party’s health is directly related to its ideas.”

The liberal blogosphere has been critical of the DLC and some of the high-profile Democratic candidates the group supports, including Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

Mr. Lieberman is caught up in a contentious primary battle against a more liberal opponent, Ned Lamont, who has received heavy support from bloggers on the left.

When asked about Mr. Lieberman’s prospects, Mr. From said, “The Democratic Party doesn’t need to limit its appeal. He raises the standard of the Senate, he doesn’t lower it. The Democratic Party is better off if he is re-elected.”

Along with several other Democratic leaders, Mrs. Clinton helped craft the message for the DLC’s “national conversation” event, which is designed as an outreach to grass-roots Democratic officials on the state and local level. When asked whether the DLC would back a White House campaign in 2008 by the senator from New York, Mr. Reed, who served as a presidential policy adviser to Mr. Clinton, said his group would not yet endorse a candidate, but added, “Hillary Clinton will have broad appeal if she is a candidate.”

The DLC leaders had plenty of criticism for Republicans as well.

“Out in the heartland, people are tired of ‘Rovism,’” Mr. From said in reference to White House senior adviser Karl Rove. “The country is ready to turn the page on the Bush administration.”

Mr. Reed said the congressional debates on stem-cell research, homosexual “marriage” and flag burning were turning off libertarians who normally vote Republican. “It’s part of a larger picture of an administration and Congress that are out of touch with America’s concerns,” Mr. Reed said. “This is a golden opportunity to win over disgruntled Republicans and independents.”

Despite their optimism about this year’s elections, both men stressed the importance for Democrats to focus on ideas with broad, mainstream appeal if they want to win control of Congress and have a viable shot at winning the White House in 2008.

“Even if we win the Congress, we are still going to be the minority party,” Mr. Reed said.


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