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Freddie Stubbs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-18-03 08:08 AM
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Tug of Constituencies Strains Democrats
ASHINGTON, July 17 Three Democratic presidential candidates who were chastised by the N.A.A.C.P. for skipping the group's political forum in Miami on Monday upended their schedules today to fly south and make elaborate apologies. Earlier this week, all the candidates were summoned to a forum before gay leaders, where they were pressed to endorse gay marriage.

These two events illustrated what has emerged as one of the most critical and, for some Democrats, perplexing differences between the modern-day Democratic and Republican Parties: How they accommodate constituencies that are at the base of their political foundation but endorse views that are not always popular with the broader electorate.

President Bush has proved to be highly effective in his dealing with groups on the right. His appearances as candidate and as president before, say, the Christian Coalition, were far and few between. But the Democrats are finding themselves increasingly commandeered before groups that tend to highlight the very positions the White House would like highlighted, like the support of gay groups. That is taking place despite the efforts of Democratic Party leaders to protect the candidates from this situation.

"When is the last time you saw George Bush show up before the N.R.A.?" James Carville, who was Bill Clinton's campaign manager in 1992, said today, referring to the National Rifle Association. (The answer is never.)

"The N.R.A. are very savvy politically," Mr. Carville said. "They understand what it is to win an election. They don't make Republican presidential candidates go there and hold assault weapons up in the air."

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