Asked to lay odds on Clinton's chances in '96, Grossfeld snorts and asks, "Winning the election or getting renominated?" But seriously, folks, he gives Clinton a 55 percent chance at a second term, based on the exhaustive polling of independent voters that the DLC has commissioned. Surveys indicate that nearly three-quarters of that voting bloc believe it's too early to tell whether Clinton's presidency has failed. Nearly 70 percent still want Clinton to succeed. Sixty-four percent believe he has tried to move the country in the right direction.

On another front, Colin Powell may emerge as a formidable independent candidate. Grossfeld says the former joint chief is already investigating the process an independent must go through to qualify for ballots in respective states.

Of course, the battle for the hearts and votes of Americans will not be won by the timid, and Grossfeld sees encouraging signs that Democrats--the DLC's New Democrats, in any case--are ready to rise to the challenge.

He tells of White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta's speech to the DLC last week. Panetta droned on at length during his luncheon address, failing to inspire the assemblage until he began discussing the Republicans' quest for a balanced budget amendment.

"He said, 'Now the Republicans have got to try and deliver, but if they try and do that in a way to hurt the working man, dammit, we're going to stand up and fight them.'"

The declaration triggered thunderous applause.
"But people weren't so much applauding the notion of confronting the Republicans," Grossfeld says. "They were applauding him saying 'dammit.'"

Democratic success, he says, is going to hinge "on a willingness to get into their faces.

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