- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 5, 2000

Approaching the queen

It wasn't easy, but after five long years Linda Rose, a former English teacher, finally got her letter into the hands of President and Mrs. Clinton.

For security reasons, of course, Hillary Rodham Clinton gladly handed the letter over to Secret Service agents once she and the president left their pew following the Washington National Cathedral's first Sunday service of the new year.

Still, we'll give the first lady the benefit of a doubt and wait to see if she comes through for the Northwest Washington resident who agreed yesterday to share her story with Inside the Beltway.

It begins in 1993 in Georgetown, Maine, where Mrs. Rose, busy raising her two daughters, was in the midst of a difficult divorce. On top of it all, she became seriously ill and found herself unable to keep up with the family's house payments.

Despite Mrs. Rose's pleas, the mortgage holder in this case, the U.S. Department of Agriculture foreclosed on the property in January 1994. The mother, who had taught in a Catholic high school, and her daughters were evicted two months later.

She would appeal to the court system, charging discrimination, but to no avail. She would appeal by letter to Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, embroiled at the moment in his own personal dilemma, and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, Maine Democrat.

The latter wrote back, promising to investigate her case. It would be an empty promise that followed the majority leader when, days later, he abruptly stepped down from the Hill.

A lifelong Democrat, Mrs. Rose wrote next to President Clinton. When she didn't hear back, she turned to Mrs. Clinton, reaching only as far as the first lady's scheduler.

It just so happens that Mrs. Rose eventually moved to Washington, where both her daughters attended school. It was on their behalf, "and because something is wrong with the system," that the Jewish mother stepped into the Communion line last Sunday beneath the soaring arches of the cathedral.

"I think God will forgive me," she now reflects. "When they called people to take Communion, I stuck the letter I'd written to the president into my pocket and got into the line.

"Of course, being Jewish, I didn't take Communion, so when I got to the front I turned to the Clintons and I handed the letter to his wife. I knew it was a bold move on my part; it was a very awkward situation."

From a presidential security standpoint given all the terrorism concerns surrounding the arrival of the year 2000 what happened next is nothing short of amazing.

"I said to the Clintons, 'I give this letter to you on behalf of my daughters.' Then I wished them a happy new year, and they wished me a happy new year, and then I knelt down in front of them to pray."

And she continued to pray, uninterrupted. It wasn't until the conclusion of the service, as she walked to a basement bathroom, that a female Secret Service agent approached Mrs. Rose and led her to a cathedral conference room. There, the former teacher was questioned by two federal agents for half an hour.

"They asked me where I'd been, why I'd come to church, if I had any weapons in my bag, that sort of thing," she says. "They even got my phone number.

"I finally asked the Secret Service woman if Mr. or Mrs. Clinton would read the letter at last, and she said, 'That depends on what our supervisor decides.' "

She says if the Clintons care to reach her in the meantime, the Secret Service has her address and phone number.

Hillary acupuncture

It's only fair that New York artist David Freeman, 34, is rolling out a Hillary Rodham Clinton voodoo doll, complete with pins, later this month.

Then again, given the popularity of the artist's Mayor Rudolph Giuliani voodoo doll, which sold out in select Manhattan locations over the holidays, he'd be stupid not to.

Hundreds of the Giuliani dolls were snatched up at $14.95 each. No price yet on Hillary's head.

Al update

"Al Gore and Gore 2000 need your help in Iowa!"

So reads an urgent dispatch we obtained yesterday, detailing how how the Gore presidential camp is out to recruit "hundreds of volunteers from across the country for canvassing and get-out-the-vote activities in Iowa leading up to the January 24 caucuses.

"Your help for the month of January January 15-24, or January 21-24 will be crucial. While volunteers are unpaid, we will work on providing housing for volunteers in Iowa. All you need to do is tell us when you can help.

"While Gore 2000 cannot pay volunteers' transportation costs, there are several options for volunteers traveling to Iowa. Individuals may drive to Des Moines on their own, possibly carpooling with other volunteers from their region… .

"While in Iowa, Gore 2000 will work to find housing for all of our volunteers. Gore 2000 will provide housing in local supporters' homes and local YMCA's across Iowa. Please let us know as soon as possible when you will be able to join us so that we can make the appropriate arrangements."

We'll check with the editors and let you know.

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