Democratic leaders from around the country ended their spring meeting Saturday the way they started - without a clear message or a candidate emerging to face Republican President Bush in 1992.
As the Democratic National Committee closed its two-day meeting, one potential prospect for the presidential nomination, West Virginia's Sen. Jay Rockefeller, said he would not run in 1992 but would keep his options open for 1996.Rockefeller told reporters after blasting the administration for not proposing a national health care plan that he was ruling out a campaign in 1992.
"Decent, affordable health care. We are the party to make it happen," Rockefeller said in his speech to applause from the 300 Democrats at the meeting.
He had been mentioned, along with several others - including Sens. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas, Albert Gore of Tennessee, Bob Kerrey of Nebraska and Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri and Gov. Mario Cuomo of New York - as possible challengers to Bush.
Although Democrats charged that Bush has no domestic agenda and is not interested in one, they did not come forth with a clear national economic plan to present to voters.
They talked in general terms about being the party of the working man and woman and said crime, health care, education and energy would be among the issues on their side in 1992.
Ron Brown, chairman of the Democratic Party, called for "a new investment economics," which he said was investment in workers, students and children.
Among resolutions adopted by the party, one denounced the pending U.S.-Mexico free-trade pact proposed by Bush as a "disaster" to workers and the environment in both countries.
Democrats have been defensive since the gulf war. A majority of them in Congress voted against military intervention against Iraq, urging instead letting economic sanctions work longer.
Democratic leaders, such as House Speaker Thomas Foley, D-Wash., say that the vote would not play a role in election campaigns since Democrats rallied around the war effort later and that the economy would be the issue.
"The same polls that purport to prove George Bush's invincibility point out that Americans don't trust his economic policy," said Brown.
Brown predicted during a news conference that, even without an obvious candidate now, Bush would lose. "We intend to take on George Bush and we intend to beat George Bush in 1992," he said.
Democrats, who have controlled Congress for most of a half century, have had one president since Lyndon Johnson left office in January 1969 - Jimmy Carter for one term before Ronald Reagan beat him in 1980.