Democrats Preview 2004 Strategy

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Democrats Preview 2004 Strategy

By Will Lester
Associated Press Writer
Monday, July 29, 2002; 4:40 PM

NEW YORK –– Democratic presidential hopefuls offered a preview Monday of the economic debate they hope will dominate
the 2004 race for the White House.

They contrasted the booming stock market, federal surpluses and job growth of the roaring 1990s with the tax cuts, volatile
stocks and shrinking economy since Bill Clinton left office.

"In just eighteen months, this administration has unraveled the fiscal discipline it took us eight years to build," said Connecticut
Sen. Joe Lieberman, who spoke to the Democratic Leadership Council's annual policy meeting along with Massachusetts Sen.
John Kerry and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

Daschle urged President Bush to follow up the corporate responsibility legislation he's expected to sign Tuesday to restore
confidence in business and the stock market.

"The president came here to New York, to take Wall Street to the woodshed," Daschle said. Referring to Bush's recent
comments on business scandals and corporate accountability, he said the president has been "full of tough talk but short on real
solutions."

Bush must make sure the auditing board called for in the accounting bill is independent and effective, Daschle said.

Kerry and the other Democrats said the nation's economy has undergone a dramatic transition under Bush's leadership.

"In the span of a year, this administration has turned fiscal responsibility on its ear," Kerry said, "turning a budget surplus into a
budget with endless deficits spurred on by an irresponsible and unfairly structured tax cut."

The centrist Democrats will hear from House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards
Tuesday. Al Gore, the 2000 Democratic nominee, and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean are not attending.

Leaders of the group told the party's candidates that it's good to call for corporate accountability but not to take an
anti-business approach.

"We're not into class resentment and warfare," said Al From, the group's founder and chief executive.

He played down the significance of Gore's absence and said he thought that if Gore runs, the former vice president could
abandon his economic populism of 2000 and run more successfully as a New Democrat, blending a pro-business approach
with core Democratic values.

Gore aide Jano Cabrera defended the 2000 campaign saying it embraced New Democratic values and got more votes than
any other Democrat had ever received.

The three Democrats who spoke Monday all talked about the corporate accounting legislation, saying the administration
resisted the measure, then finally embraced it.

Bush praised the bill on Monday and said that if corporate officials fudge their accounting books "we're going to find you, we're
going to arrest you."

Republican national chairman Marc Racicot said the Democrats' criticism rang hollow coming from senators who had failed to
pass a budget during a time of war and economic uncertainty. He described that failure as "an abdication of responsibility and
failure of leadership."

Daschle and Lieberman scoffed at the president's recent reference to the booming economy of the 1990s as a "binge"

"What it was," said Daschle, "was eight years of unprecedented growth and prosperity that benefited all Americans – not just
those at the very top."

Lieberman said, "The gains we made in the 1990s were not just real, they were record breaking. To suggest otherwise, to
blame this progress for the problems in our markets now, that's not leadership, that is ludicrous."

Kerry talked about a "crisis of confidence" that expands from the nation's economic future to Washington politics and the war
on terror, and he said Democrats must avoid being a party only of domestic policy.

He said the Bush administration must interact more closely with allies and other countries, and he said it had failed to make its
case internationally for a possible invasion of Iraq.

"Their single-mindedness, secrecy and high-blown rhetoric have alienated our allies and threatened to unravel the stability of the
region," Kerry said.

Most of the discussion at the Democrats' session Monday focused on the nation's economic woes, however.

In his call for economic action, Daschle cited the rescue of coal miners in Pennsylvania and the heroism of passengers of United
Flight 93 who fought terrorist kidnappers.

"We can certainly overcome our current economic difficulties," Daschle said. "We can create jobs and get our economy
moving. All we need is a realistic plan."

–––

On the Net:

Democratic Leadership Council – http://www.ndol.org

                                   © 2002 The Associated Press
 

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