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Center holds conference on politics, hosts leaders

For political junkies, Monday was a big day as big-name politicians and journalists congregated in the Rotunda to scrutinize the world of politics.

The American Democracy Conference hosted over 20 participants, including former Democratic National Committee Chairman Roy Romer, former presidential candidate Lamar Alexander (R) and journalists from The Washington Post, Newsweek and CNN.

The Center for Governmental Studies and the news journal Hotline sponsored the Conference.

Larry J. Sabato, government and foreign affairs professor and Center director, moderated the discussion panels, which were televised by C-SPAN.

Romer discussed the upcoming presidential and congressional elections during lunch in the Newcomb Hall Ballroom.

Romer said prospects are positive for Democrats taking over the House and picking up seats in the Senate in 2000.

He called the tax cut proposal by presidential candidate George W. Bush (R) "reckless" and said Bush was not responding to what the American people want.

"There is no authenticity in that proposal," Romer said, indicating that Bush was not approaching the issue appropriately.

Later that evening Alexander answered questions from the crowd.

Alexander began running for the nomination for the 2000 Republican presidential ticket after failing to win the nomination in 1996, but said he dropped out because of Bush's lead in both fundraising and popularity.

He added that despite having 250 fundraisers in one year, he could not raise sufficient amounts of money and that campaign fundraising laws should be changed.

"Get rid of the limits on presidential campaigns," Alexander said, referring to the $1,000 limit on individual contributions to candidates.

He said the laws were the problem, not the amount of money.

During a panel discussion about President Clinton's legacy, panelist Carl Cannon of the National Journal said Clinton has a problem with lying.

"The real issue is the absence of truth telling" on matters of policy, not just about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, Cannon said.

Another panel discussed the proper role of journalists in covering rumors about politicians, especially their personal lives.

Craig Crawford, editor-in-chief of Hotline, said reporters must make clear "what we know and what we don't know" when reporting rumors.

Crawford said part of the aftermath of the Lewinsky scandal is that reporters now are increasing their scrutiny of candidates' private lives.

"The Pandora's box has been opened," he said.

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