U.S. Democrats are meeting in Washington this week, and are already talking about how to improve their chances of winning back the presidency in 2008.
It has been a tough few months for opposition Democrats. Presidential candidate John Kerry lost a close race to President Bush in November. Ever since, Democrats have been debating what went wrong and how to improve their chances in the congressional mid-term elections in 2006, and the next presidential contest in 2008.
This week, the 447 members of the Democratic National Committee are meeting in Washington, hearing from party leaders of the past and potential stars of the future.
Among them is Senator Kerry who, like several other speakers, urges Democrats to look ahead, instead of backward.
"Nobody has stopped being willing to go out and fight, and I am absolutely confident that, if you continue with this energy, we are going to begin to win again in 2005," said John Kerry. "We are going to win."
There is no shortage of opinions among Democrats as to why the president won a second term last November. But party leaders are urging Democratic activists to focus on what is needed in the future for the party to be successful.
Former President Bill Clinton is urging Democrats to put their differences aside, and support the new incoming national chairman, former Vermont Governor and presidential contender Howard Dean.
"And we need to stop saying that, you know, in order to win the White House, something magical has to happen," said Bill Clinton. "All that has to happen is that we have got to have a clear vision, a plan for the future, good campaign tactics, and [we have to] fight like the devil. That is what we have got to do."
The party meeting in Washington is also a chance for potential presidential candidates for the 2008 election to audition in front of Democratic activists.
Among them is New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. He noted that President Bush improved his support among Hispanic voters in the 2004 election, compared to four years earlier.
"When we say we are going to get serious about Hispanic outreach [win over Hispanic voters], we better mean it," said Bill Richardson. " But [that means] talking to the community, not lecturing."
Another possible contender in 2008 is former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, who served as John Kerry's vice-presidential running mate last year.
"We believe, all of us, in fighting desperately for all those people who need a voice in this country," said John Edwards. "It is what the Democrats have always stood for, and it is what every single one of us stand for today, and [what] we will continue to stand for going forward."
Some recent polls indicate that New York Senator Hillary Clinton is the top choice among Democrats to run for president in 2008. At the same time, a poll conducted by the USA Today newspaper, the Cable News Network and the Gallup organization found that a majority of Democrats surveyed believe the party needs to become more moderate, in order to better compete with Republicans in both congressional and presidential elections.