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Larson Inviting Defeated Incumbents to Retreat

House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) is asking some of the recently defeated incumbents to participate in the upcoming Democratic retreat.

Details have not been finalized, but a Democratic aide said Larson, who is in charge of the retreat, suggested some of the 63 Democrats who lost in November would participate in a panel discussion on “what went wrong and what we need to do moving forward.”

“It’s really more to look forward than to look back, but there are some diagnostics in looking back that we should discuss,” the aide said, adding the idea was “Member generated.”

The aide also noted that many of those former Members, whose defeats led to Democrats’ loss of the majority, represented swing districts that could become pickup opportunities for the party in 2012. Listening to their perspective could be helpful in crafting a sharper strategy for the next two years, the aide said. Drew Hammill, spokesman for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), agreed.

“That would seem to be a normal component to an issues conference,” Hammill said.

Yet others have concerns, arguing such a panel would be a painful rehash of the midterms. House Democrats also held a marathon meeting two weeks after Election Day to discuss the outcome. New Members as well as those who lost their re-election bids attended the Nov. 16 session.

“The idea of having recently defeated Members of the 111th Congress present the way forward to the 112th Congress is really bizarre and detrimental to the cause,” a senior Democratic aide said. “I am not sure our current Members are going to get much utility out of this.”

President Barack Obama is also slated to appear at the session, which runs Jan. 20-22 at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, Md.

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