In a final farewell to the political life they are leaving behind, two Democratic leaders spoke well of their opponents Sunday, sort of, and urged their party to resist the temptation to do as the Republicans did.

"If the Democrats in the Senate in 1995 act as the Republicans in the Senate did in 1994, there will be total gridlock," said Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine. "Just because it worked for them doesn't mean it will work for us."Mitchell and Tom Foley appeared for one last time together as Senate Majority Leader and Speaker of the House on NBC's "Meet the Press." For Mitchell, who retired voluntarily, it was the 27th time; for Foley, who was retired by Washington State voters, it was the 19th. (For the record: Each has appeared on ABC's "This Week with David Brinkley" 16 times since they assumed their leadership positions in 1989.)

They were unified in saying Bill Clinton will get the Democratic nomination for a second term in 1996. And both praised the leader of Senate Republicans and putative 1996 GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole.

"I think he would be an effective president," Mitchell said. "We disagree on some policies, but personally I think he is competent and could do the job."

Mitchell, who was responding to a question on who would make the best Republican presidential candidate in 1996, added: "I hope this doesn't hurt Bob."

Foley, too, expressed his "great respect" for the Kansas senator.

Foley said his Republican successor as Speaker, Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia, is very able and said he hoped Gingrich will be "Speaker of the whole House, not just Republicans."

In the spirit of Christmas, the two sounded few discordant notes. Mitchell came close when he was asked whether Democrats should adopt some of the tactics the Republicans used when they were in the minority.

In the Senate, said Mitchell, "there was a policy of obstruction, of preventing legislation from passing - even legislation which the Republicans said they were for."