- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 6, 2000

Bomb-sniffing police dogs and Secret Service agents patrolled the halls of Capitol Hill yesterday, sending an unmistakable message that first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York's senator-elect, was in the vicinity.
Throngs of reporters, photographers and television cameras scrambled to catch a rare glimpse of one of the newest members of Congress, who moved quietly through back hallways to attend freshman orientation meetings with fellow Democrats.
"I am hoping to build relationships and consensus with every senator," said Mrs. Clinton, who once blamed a "vast right-wing conspiracy" for her husband's impeachment.
As a senator, the first lady will serve side by side with lawmakers who voted to remove her husband from office, scuttled her ambitious health care plan and held hearings on her ill-fated Whitewater land deal.
The Senate contains many reminders of her past battles. The bookshelves still contain copies of the Senate Whitewater report that concluded the first lady and president "established a pattern of concealing their involvement" in the failed Arkansas savings and loan.
And the Congressional Record is filled with statements from Republicans like Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas who helped defeat her universal health care plan in 1994 by deriding it as "socialized medicine."
But Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, who after the election said Mrs. Clinton would "have to get used" to being but one of 100 members, said yesterday she will be given "all the consideration she's entitled to, which is a lot."
"I'm sure she is going to be a very diligent senator, work hard, get committee assignments where she has real interest, and will be a very important part of this body, just like every other senator is," said the Mississippi Republican.
Another GOP senator said Mrs. Clinton won't be judged by her past run-ins with Republicans, some of whom still harbor suspicions she's using the Senate as a steppingstone for the presidency.
"I think she certainly comes with more awareness and notoriety than most incoming freshmen senators, but I think she will be accepted for what she decides to be and I don't think any of her past differences will be an issue," Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas said.
Earlier in the day, nearly a hundred reporters staking out a lunch meeting attended by Mrs. Clinton were herded to a podium in another part of the Capitol believing Mrs. Clinton would deliver some remarks.
Moments later, a Democratic aide told reporters Mrs. Clinton would not be appearing, and instead the area was cordoned off for a press event with Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman.
The closed hallway prevented reporters from returning to their original location, allowing Mrs. Clinton to exit the luncheon with little fanfare and attention from the press.
Dressed in a black slack suit and peach blouse, Mrs. Clinton declined to comment to the handful of reporters who remained at the luncheon stakeout. She smiled, waved and disappeared back into a restricted area.
Another press event was rescheduled for 5 p.m., when Mrs. Clinton briefly appeared with Jon Corzine, New Jersey's Democratic senator-elect who spent $65 million to win his seat.
Other freshman Democrats got a chance to step into the media limelight as well. Debbie Stabenow, newly elected from Michigan, bravely walked up to a podium surrounded by reporters to take questions regarding Mrs. Clinton.
"Hillary and I have known each other for a long time," Mrs. Stabenow said. "This is such an historic moment for all of us coming into the Senate as women, and the first lady coming into the Senate."
Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat, also offered kind words about Mrs. Clinton.
"She fits in just like part of the gang; it's great having her here," Mrs. Landrieu said.
Asked about all of the media attention, Mrs. Landrieu said the first lady was "calm as a cucumber."
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said Mrs. Clinton indicated she wanted to be treated in the same manner as other senators.
"I believe that that is exactly how she will be received," said Mr. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat.
President Clinton joined his wife last night at a dinner in the Supreme Court for new senators who will serve in the 107th Congress, which convenes in January. They were among 250 guests invited to the dinner, which is a Senate tradition.
The function was Mr. Clinton's first in his new role as a senator's spouse, a role his spokesman says he looks forward to fulfilling.
"He's looking forward to heading out into the private sector and earning a living and supporting, as he said, the new senator in the family," said Jake Siewert, White House spokesman.
In addition to her Secret Service detail, Mrs. Clinton who worked on Capitol Hill during the Watergate scandal on the staff of the special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, which prepared impeachment charges against President Nixon was accompanied by Capitol Hill police officers.
She will continue to receive full Secret Service protection until President Clinton leaves office in January.
As a senator, Mrs. Clinton is not entitled to a Capitol Hill police detail, but because of her status as former first lady, she will receive their protection, as well as Secret Service protection, when she moves through the Capitol.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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