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Democratic Supper Club

A group of influential Washington-based liberal activists is convening informal dinners with Democratic politicians thought to be considering the 2008 presidential race.

The dinners are hosted by former America Coming Together executive director Steve Rosenthal and America Votes head Cecile Richards and generally include between eight and 10 invited guests. So far the group has dined with Virginia Gov. Mark Warner and Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh.  Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack is next on the menu -- literally -- as he is slated to join the group for a meal early next month.

Attendees at the dinners say there is no set agenda; the goal is for both parties to become more familiar with one another.  "The dinners provide an opportunity for progressive leaders and potential candidates to let their hair down and get to know each other a little better," said Rosenthal.

This gathering and others like it are done largely out of the media glare but represent a key element of the "primary within the primary."  Wooing key players in the party infrastructure can lead to increased visibility for a candidate among both party donors, who will provide the financial backbone of a national campaign, and the ground troops who will be needed to win the retail states of Iowa and New Hampshire.  While most voters won''t be paying attention to the 2008 presidential race for several more years, any candidate not playing this insider game is falling behind by the day.

Are key Republican operatives doing the same? Has your favorite GOP or Democratic candidate met with a group seeking to wield influence in 2008? If so, you can post in the comments section or e-mail me.

-- Chris Cillizza

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 24, 2005; 8:16 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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