- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 25, 2000

ALBANY, N.Y. In her first comments since federal agents stormed the Miami home of Elian Gonzalez, Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday accused her Senate campaign opponent of exploiting the situation.

New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has criticized the Clinton administration for using riot-clad officers to seize the boy, calling them "storm troopers" and saying he "couldn't imagine that something like this could happen in America."

"At a time that cried out for healing, the mayor chose to exploit this situation by making divisive attacks on … law enforcement officers," Mrs. Clinton said in a statement.

She did not say whether she approved or disapproved of the tactics used, but she said she was "relieved that Elian has been reunited with his father."

"Hillary does not look at a 6-year-old boy as a political opportunity," her campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson said. "It's a shame that the mayor does."

Mr. Giuliani had unsuccessfully tried to get Elian to join him in Times Square on New Year's Eve for the year 2000 gala. The mayor said yesterday that his being in politics didn't mean he couldn't have an opinion.

Mr. Giuliani's campaign manager Bruce Teitelbaum said the only links between the boy and campaign cash were donations to the Clinton campaign by the law firm aiding Elian's father.

"The mayor has made it clear to me he does not want … to politicize this issue," he said.

Later last night, about 50 Cuban-American protesters chanted anti-Clinton slogans across from the Manhattan hotel where Mrs. Clinton was attend a fund-raising dinner.

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