Hopefuls Shed Camouflage To Conduct Internal Fight

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Hopefuls Shed Camouflage To Conduct Internal Fight

Growing conflict within the governing Millennium Democratic Party, while damaging, is removing clouds shrouding the positions of MDP presidential hopefuls.

Rhee In-je is the picture of the ultimate pragmatist. "The reform of the party should not be carried out emotionally," Mr. Rhee emphasized. "We need a realistic strategy." On Wednesday, while meeting with his supporters, he embraced President Kim Dae-jung and said everything should be done with the president at the center.

Analysts said Mr. Rhee desperately needs the support of the president's Donggyo-dong faction to win the party's nomination. But his chances of winning a presidential race would diminish drastically if overall support for the party erodes, they added.

Noh Mu-hyun, another presidential hopeful, is taking cautious steps. While he supports the reformers in principle, Mr. Noh cannot ignore the influence wielded by the Donggyo-dong faction.

Kim Keun-tae has been the most consistent. Since December of last year, he has steadfastly called for comprehensive reform and the dissolution of the Donggyo-dong faction.

Hahn Hwa-kap, a maverick member of that faction, is close to the reformers. While he called for an end to what he termed the "private ownership" of the party, he has also told the reformers to slow down, saying the problem cannot be resolved by name calling.

by Kim Chong-hyuk

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