- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 9, 2005

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Jeanine Pirro, a high-profile prosecutor in the New York suburbs, said yesterday that she will seek the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton next year.

Mrs. Clinton, leaving a New York City event, ignored reporters’ shouted questions about Mrs. Pirro’s announcement.

Mrs. Pirro said the former first lady is more interested in running for president than being senator — speculation that Mrs. Clinton has sought to quash.

“When Mrs. Clinton first came to us and said she wanted to be a New Yorker, she asked New York to put out a welcome mat and we did,” the Westchester County district attorney said in a statement.

“But now she wants us to re-elect her even though she won’t promise to serve out her term and wants to use us as a springboard to the presidency. She’s asking us to become her doormat.”

National polls have shown Mrs. Clinton is the leading contender for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, though the former first lady has said she is focused on her Senate re-election bid and is not thinking about a run for the White House.

Among those Mrs. Pirro may face in the Republican primary is Edward Cox, a Manhattan lawyer who is a son-in-law of former President Richard M. Nixon.

Mrs. Pirro, 54, said she would formally announce her candidacy tomorrow. She said in May that she would not seek a fourth term as district attorney.

Mrs. Pirro has won praise for her Internet stings of would-be child molesters, work with battered women and her battle against underage drinking. She is seen often on national television as a commentator on high-profile crimes. In 1997, she made People magazine’s “most beautiful people” list. She has been pro-choice on abortion.

Mrs. Pirro brushed aside questions about her husband, lawyer-lobbyist Albert Pirro, who has been an issue in most of her campaigns. He was in federal prison for tax fraud when she was re-elected district attorney in 2001. In 1986, he refused to release information about his law practice, and she had to withdraw as the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.

A statewide poll issued last week by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute had Mrs. Clinton leading Mrs. Pirro by 63 percent to 29 percent, but Mrs. Pirro predicted yesterday that the gap would narrow.

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