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News Briefs II

Democrats to Curb Liberalism If They Retake House

The Washington Post

Two years after voters tossed the Democrats from power in Congress, House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, D-Mo., insists his party has learned the lessons of defeat and would curb its liberal instincts if Democrats are restored to power in November.

In an interview in his Capitol office, the ever-cautious Gephardt said Democrats are poised to win back the House and would return as a chastened majority - with a more modest agenda - than the party that was rejected in 1994. "What we're saying to people is, we are a better product," he said. "We will do a better job."

Asked whether House Democrats have concluded their agenda was too liberal for most voters, Gephardt said: "They realize that we did not produce what the American people wanted. You can call it anything you want. I've said many times, we're all new Democrats' now. We have to be. Times change."

Many people doubt that the House Democratic caucus has been reborn as a bastion of centrism, but the question of how much House Democrats have changed during their two years in the minority goes to the heart of what could happen if President Clinton wins a second term.

Although the party has united behind the goal of reelecting Clinton and recapturing Congress, many Democrats anticipate a fierce debate about priorities after the elections.

Liberal Democrats, uneasy with Clinton's shift to the right since Republicans won control of Congress and angry over his decision to sign the welfare reform bill, have seen the Democratic caucus in the House as a counterbalance within the party.

Clinton Praises Bosnian Election, Declares U.S. Policy Vindicated

Los Angeles Times

Using nearly identical words, President Clinton and his top foreign policy strategists Sunday hailed Bosnia's first postwar elections as a "remarkable" achievement that vindicated the U.S. refusal to delay the voting in the face of widespread irregularities.

Clinton emphasized the positive, glossing over increasing evidence that the expected winners in the country's ethnically divided constituencies are determined to harden the divisions regardless of the veneer of national unity required by last year's Dayton, Ohio, peace accord.

With voters' freedom of movement severely restricted, opposition candidates denied access to TV air time and election regulations manipulated by ethnic nationalists, many critics had called for postponement of the balloting.

The administration steadfastly rejected that advice, arguing that conditions were unlikely to be much better in six or 12 months.

Clinton clearly also wanted to adhere to the timetable fixed at the Dayton talks because it offered the promise of an eventual end to U.S. participation in volatile Balkan politics.