- The Washington Times - Friday, February 11, 2000

NEW YORK Money and religion dominated the heated exchanges in the New York Senate campaign Thursday as Hillary Rodham Clinton demanded that Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani release to the public the contents of a fund-raising letter.

Mrs. Clinton said she was "appalled" by the letter and demanded that Mr. Giuliani stop using religion as a fund-raising weapon against her in his Senate bid.

Campaigning in upstate New York, Mrs. Clinton, a Methodist, said, "I think it is wrong to use religion as a political weapon and he should know that."

Her campaign, she added, will be based on issues and ideas, "not on insults."

The contents of the eight-page letter to potential donors surfaced in a Village Voice article that was posted on the publication's World Wide Web site last week.

The letter was written last October during Mr. Giuliani's clash with the Brooklyn Museum of Art over its exhibit of a profane picture of the Virgin Mary.

Although signed by the mayor, a Roman Catholic, it is widely believed that the letter was produced by Richard Viguerie, a direct-mail marketer who has worked for conservative candidates. It said in part, "In the minds of the left-wing activists like Hillary Clinton, I guess it's O.K. to use taxpayer funds to subsidize religious expressions so long as it involves the desecration of religious symbols."

The letter said that the first lady had revealed "her hostility toward America's religious traditions," and it criticized "liberal judges" and those who support a ban on the posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools.

Reacting to the slurs, Mrs. Clinton's campaign manager, Bill de Blasio angrily insisted that Mr. Giuliani "come clean" and disclose how many people had received the letter; how much money was raised as a result of the mailing; how many people had joined the Giuliani campaign because of their "divisive comments;" and what other charges had been made against Mrs. Clinton "that you don't have the guts or decency to say to her face."

Mrs. Clinton's remarks were part of a barrage of invective between the two camps.

Within an hour of the Clinton camp comments, the mayor's forces shot back, charging that the first lady is using public funds to finance her tours of the state.

"Friends of Giuliani," the mayor's fund-raising committee, demanded in a statement that the first lady make public the White House Travel Office records pertaining to her Senate race and "repay the $300,000 she owes the taxpayers."

According to the group, Mrs. Clinton has taken more than 60 campaign trips aboard government-owned aircraft and reimbursed the government for $34,000, instead of the $300,000 that they calculate she owes.

"The people of New York won't be fooled by Arkansas-style campaign tactics," said Kim Serafin, a Giuliani spokesman.

Thursday was the second straight day in which Mrs. Clinton and the Republican mayor, who has not yet announced his candidacy, have gone at each other in what many observers see as the first round of a nasty campaign. "This is just the beginning of the blood bath," said one Democratic official who requested anonymity.

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