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The Democratic Party was stirring restlessly last week under Jimmy Carter's leadership -- but the President was rallying to tighten his grip on congressional and delegate support by week's end.

Efforts were launched to draft Henry Jackson, Edmund Muskie, and Walter Mondale to bear the party banner instead f Carter. The push for an open Democratic convention crystallized into a formal organization.

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New York Mayor Edward Koch, a longtime (but restless) Carter supporter, said he thinks the President couldn't carry New York State -- a traditional Democratic stronghold. But Jackson, Muskie, Mondale, or Daniel P. Moynihan could, Koch said.

Carter, however, is holding fast to his committed convention delegates. He met Aug. 1 with a group of 80 loyal House Democrats who renewed their support for him. The meeting was "highly emotional, and at the end he choked up," according to one congresswoman present. Later in the day Carter held a similar meeting with hundreds of his delegates.

More than 100 House Democrats joined in sending a letter to 6,000-plus delegates and alternates to the convention, expressing their opposition to releasing delegates.m

Some promiment neo-conservatives in the Democratic Party are bucking party roots and drifting into the Reagan camp.

Another fund-raising group for Ronald Reagan was formed July 31, this time of Democrats and independents who support the Reagan cause. The group is headed by Adm. Elmo Zumwalt (USN, ret.), former chief of naval operations and a vice-chairman of Coalition for a Democratic Majority, an organization of neo-conservative Democrats.

Long dissatisfied with Carter policy, most neo-conservatives, whose ranks include such notables as Senators Moynihan and Jackson and Norman Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine, still have deep ties to Democratic Party traditions.

But many find themselves more closely aligned with Reagan's hard-line foreign policy and growth-centered economics than with their own party's present attitudeS.

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For an upbeat preface to the Democratic convention, the President plans to unveil a major economic package sometime this week to ease unemployment and recharge the economy.

Without hinting at the details of the package, Speaker of the House Thomas (Tip) O'Neill said Carter probably would address the nation with his new initiative.

"I hope the President's speech will be the dawn of a new era," O'Neill said.

Political observers say Carter badly needs some forward momentum to carry into the convention. On top of other issues bogging down his administration, the Labor Department announced Aug. 1 that unemployment had edged upward to 7.8 percent in July.

John Anderson asked a federal court last week for equal treatment under the federal campaign funding laws.

Either declare the present funding laws -- which provide $29.4 million to the two major party candidates and nothing to the others -- unconstitutional, he asked, or gie the Anderson campaign the same right as a new political party.

A party that corrals 5 percent of the vote in at least 10 states in a general election can qualify for some campaign funds retroactively. Anderson, as an independent, does not qualify for the same treatment.

"Operator, I can't seem to get through to the Democratic National Convention." Could this be a common refrain next week?

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) is negotiating a three-year contract with the telephone company, and unless a settlement is reached by Aug. 9, union members may strike. Although New York Telephone Company says it has prepared for a strike, giving the convention "high priority," the workers are not so sure. Says one union member, "The phones are the most important thing at the convention, and they need constant service." However, a New York Telephone spokesman says supervisors will try to keep the system going in the event of a strike. The last strike by the CWA was in 1971 and lasted even months.

The major issue in the negotiations also is bound to be a campaign issues: inflation. The company wants to put a 6 percent "cap" on any cost-of-living increases. The workers are resisting the move.

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