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Demos paint a rosy picture of their fund-raising efforts

To hear national Democratic leaders talk to their top donors, everything is breaking in the party's favor these days.

President Clinton's programs are popular, the economy is booming, crime is on the wane and the House of Representatives is within the party's reach in 1998, Vice President Al Gore told members of the Democratic Business Council on Sunday.But Gore and other speakers at the council's winter retreat did not publicly discuss one of the nation's hottest political topics - allegations that Clinton had an affair with a former White House intern then urged her to lie about it under oath.

"There has been no discussion about the hubbub," said Tom Hendrickson, a Raleigh, N.C., businessman and chairman of the Democratic Business Council.

The council includes about 2,000 supporters who contribute a minimum of $10,000. The group raised $14 million last year for the party. Almost 200 members registered for the weekend retreat, twice as many as last year.

Hendrickson said donors are trying to ignore the sex allegations and focus on how to elect a Democratic Congress in 1998.