WASHINGTON -- Acknowledging that Democrats "have spent too much time whining and rubbing hands and worrying what our message should be," Sen Barbara A. Mikulski says the
Democratic Party should return to its middle-class roots.
"It's time to stop changing ourselves with every new trend, every new topic, every new outcome," Mikulski, D-Md., said in a speech to the National Press Club here yesterday. "We do that by being the party of the people. Right now, the Democrats seem like the party of government."
In a scathing review, Mikulski said the party must "lift more people into the middle class [or] it will disappear."
Mikulski also gave a plug for her "good friend," Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, who announced his candidacy for president yesterday, although she didn't endorse him over other Democratic contenders.
"He will make a fine addition and a real contribution to this interesting and, I predict, unusual presidential race," she said.
In diagnosing the Democrats ills, Mikulski said "that if we don't help those who are middle class stay there -- through devastating illness, old age, or financial hardship -- we are sabotaging our own best interests. We have to be the party that stands for the middle class and the needy. And make sure that we don't pit them against each other."
The Democratic Party can be rejuvenated by "standing on a base of middle-class values that cannot be eroded or erased," Mikulski said.
"I believe as more and more Americans turn away from last year's foreign policy fireworks and look again at their hometowns, those values will become increasingly important," she said. "And those values will triumph. And so will the Democratic Party."
Mikulski also announced her opposition to Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas during a question-and-answer period after the speech.
She said she has "great admiration" for him personally but cannot support him because he would not say where he stands on various issues of importance to women.
"When it came to the issues of women, he was silent, he was evasive and not forthcoming," Mikulski said.
Mikulski also opposed Robert Bork, whose nomination was rejected by the Senate, and current Justice David Souter.