Democrats Worry Clinton May Be Drag on Down-Ticket Candidates

WASHINGTON (AP) - Democratic leaders are quietly expressing concern that putting Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton at the top of their 2008 ticket could hurt candidates at the bottom.

They say the former first lady may be too polarizing for much of the country. They worry she could jeopardize the party's standing with independents and give Republicans who otherwise might stay home Election Day a reason to vote.

In more than 40 interviews, Democratic candidates, consultants and party chairs from every region pointed to internal polls giving Clinton strikingly high unfavorable ratings in places with key congressional and state races.

They all expressed admiration for Clinton, and some said they would publicly support her fight for the nomination -- despite privately-held fears.