"CONTRACT" TO STALL ON TERM LIMITS

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House Speaker Newt Gingrich, preparing for hisfirst major "Contract With America" defeatin a term limits vote tonight, blamed Democrats who are refusing to help a divided GOP pass the measure. "Give us 60 more Republicans next year, and we'll passterm limits," Gingrich said. Even as he spoke, prominent Republican opponents of the measure were growing derisive. "If this were a trial, I'd call as my first witnesses the Founding Fathers, who directly and unanimously rejected term limits," Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) told the floor. Democrats, meanwhile, introduced an even tougher version -- knowing the GOP would not back it -- that would have applied 12-year limits retroactively. (It failed, 135-297). "This essentially takes this issue away from the Republicans," says TIME congressional correspondent Karen Tumulty. "The GOP knows it's about 60 votes short on this, and what they really want is a campaign issue. This is really and truly all about posturing for 1996."