Democrats to Unveil Electoral Agenda: GOP Dubs Pact `the Uncontract'
Roman, Nancy E., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
With hopes of erasing their image as a party without ideas, Democrats will unveil an election-year legislative platform on Sunday that includes modest health care reform and other noncontroversial issues.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt will announce the so-called "families first" agenda from Fairfax and via satellite hookups to lawmakers and congressional candidates stationed in Houston; Detroit; Sacramento, Calif.; and Des Moines, Iowa.
Democratic leaders remained mum on the question, but senior Democratic aides said the agenda includes items that reflect President Clinton's modest legislative agenda.
Mr. Gephardt said the plan grew out of "town hall" meetings and other efforts to contact voters across the country. He characterized the Democrats' efforts as "moderate, modest and feasible."
Democrats have enjoyed a gradual rise in the polls by strenuously opposing Republican policies on the budget, Medicare, the environment and education.
Some senior Democrats question the value of creating an agenda all Democrats are supposed to call their own in the fall campaign.
"I would have advised that they each go out and run their own campaigns their own way," a top Democratic political strategist said.
Democrats said they hope this effort will neutralize their image as a party overflowing with criticism of Republicans but bereft of a legislative plan of its own.
Democrats seemed enthusiastic yesterday after emerging from a two-hour meeting, at which the leadership explained the new agenda. Despite rumors of disagreement among party factions, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said there was "virtual unanimity."
Mr. Gephardt joked that the new agenda was the product of "at least 1 million meetings. …