Democrats meet to plot '92 strategy


Democratic Party leaders, fund-raisers and potential candidates are gathering privately at the sprawling Virginia country estate of fund-raiser Pamela Harriman to plot next year's presidential campaign.

The two-day meeting is one of several planned for party leaders, who are trying to increase the Democratic National Committee's role in presidential elections.

"Democrats need to start focusing on the general election before the convention," Democratic National Chairman Ron Brown said.

Usually we wait until after the convention is over and then scratch our heads and say, 'Wow, we've got a general election campaign, and we've got to have it together in the next 30 days,'" he said. "It's too late by that time."

So far, only former Massachusetts Sen. Paul Tsongas has declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination.

Many others have been mentioned as possible candidates, including Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas. Bentsen endorsed the party gathering, which he planned to attend today, but said he was not running. He named House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri and Sen. Albert Gore Jr. of Tennessee as possible candidates.

Brown declined to list those attending the strategy session. However, he did confirm that New York Gov. Mario Cuomo wasn't coming.

Brown said the strategy session would be closed to reporters to allow candid discussions among the participants. "It's a strategy meeting," he said. "We do have some adversaries out there who will be competing against us in 1992."

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