In public, all was sweetness and light at the May 5-7 convention of the Democratic Leadership Council. But the surface harmony masked deep divisions within the moderate-to-conservative group, which hopes to map a strategy that will lead the Democrats back to the White House. For example, a resolution decrying the use of racial quotas in hiring passed easily. But some delegates wondered whether the position, which echoes that of President Bush, left the DLC with anything but pale, me-too Republicanism on the issue. Some DLC members were also upset that the group went out of its way to exclude Jesse Jackson from the proceedings. Others fear it may have unnecessarily annoyed organized labor and environmentalists with a resolution backing free trade with Mexico.

Chances also are dimming that the DLC will forge an early consensus behind a Presidential candidate for 1992. A pair of Southern baby boomers, Senator Albert Gore Jr. of Tennessee and Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, the DLC's chairman, are both angling for the group's blessing. Though the two deny there's friction between them, Clinton was less than thrilled when Gore upstaged the DLC meeting with the announcement of a new tax proposal back in Washington.

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