Democrats in defeat ponder 'values gap'

Centrist Democrats call on party to recast "moral issues"
When it comes to the Democratic Party’s on-again, off-again search for a message that would appeal to religious voters, any metaphor will do: asleep at the wheel, stumbling in a darkened room, a code-blue emergency.

Clergyman and ex-Congressman Bob Edgar prefers a comparison to the Israelites wandering the Sinai Desert. “Look, it took Moses 40 years to get his people out of the wilderness, and we’ve been in the wilderness for 25 years,” said Edgar, a United Methodist who heads the National Council of Churches. “And we’re not there yet, but we can see the Promised Land.”

As Democrats collected themselves following Senator John Kerry’s defeat this month, many said their biggest challenge would be narrowing the “values gap” that sent many voters into President Bush’s column. It could also signal a policy battle for the heart and soul of the party.


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