- The Washington Times - Monday, February 7, 2000

PURCHASE, N.Y. Hillary Rodham Clinton finally declared her New York Senate race “official” yesterday, with President Clinton sitting silently alongside her.
This time there was no equivocation, no assertions that she “intends” to run.
This time, she said, she’s “in.”
“I may be new to the neighborhood, but I am not new to your concerns,” the first lady told 2,000 supporters at Purchase College’s packed gymnasium. “I’ll keep fighting until every American has access to health care… . I’ll fight my heart out for you every single day.”
In a half-hour speech, Mrs. Clinton the first president’s wife to run for a national office pledged to help children “from Buffalo to Brooklyn” and to bring good jobs to every corner of New York.”
She also addressed many issues intended to shore up her lagging support with white women, such as research for breast cancer and insurance coverage for mammograms. Women, in some analyses, determined the outcome of the 1998 Senate race in New York, when Democrat Charles E. Schumer defeated Republican incumbent Alfonse M. D’Amato.
While Mrs. Clinton never mentioned her likely opponent, New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, by name, she bashed his policy on homelessness and invoked two Republicans senators from the South as foes.
“Do we want a senator who will stand up to Trent Lott and Jesse Helms, instead of standing with them?” she asked.
But Mrs. Clinton, borrowing from her husband’s “triangulation” script, also said: “I’m a New Democrat. I don’t believe government is the source of all our problems or the solution to them.”
Campaign workers had been preparing this event for months to garner publicity for Mrs. Clinton, unite her supporters and shore up her lagging support with Democrats’ usually dependable constituencies. Still, the rally at Purchase College part of the State University of New York system hit a few snags.
About two hours before Mrs. Clinton was scheduled to speak, a campus police officer with a bullhorn addressed the crowd of supporters trying to get in through a single door at the entrance, announcing that no one else could come in.
Mrs. Clinton’s press secretary, Howard Wolfson, rushed to the entrance. After that, VIP guests with special passes were allowed into the 1,950-capacity gym but ordinary supporters had to watch her on video in an adjacent building, Purchase College’s chief of police Joseph Olenik said.
Several demonstrators stood outside in the snow, lifting signs to protest the Clinton administration’s policy of retreat at a naval firing range at Vieques, Puerto Rico.
While Mrs. Clinton spoke, supporters across the state held “house parties” to watch her on TV and also held a teleconference phone call with the first lady.
The “house party” strategy to unite grass-roots supporters first began in 1992 in Arkansas, where Mrs. Clinton was a registered voter until late last year.
“It worked wonderfully for us in ‘92,” said Judith Hope, New York State Democratic Party chairman.
“It’s a very exciting new phase in what I think is going to be a winning campaign for Hillary Clinton,” Ms. Hope said.
Just before Mrs. Clinton spoke, supporters watched a big-screen presentation of a campaign video designed to alter her image.
The film, produced by long-time friend and Hollywood producer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, featured the first lady and her mother in feminine pink blouses. It presented a biography of her from her parents’ home in Illinois to her present home in the White House.
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat who is retiring from the seat Mrs. Clinton hopes to win, introduced the first lady.
“Eleanor Roosevelt would love you,” he said, referring to Mrs. Clinton’s role model.
Those on stage for yesterday’s event included such New York Democrats as Mr. Schumer and Rep. Charles B. Rangel, as well as Rep. Nita M. Lowey, who had spent months preparing to run for Mr. Moynihan’s seat until Mrs. Clinton announced her ambition last summer.
Scores of New York politicians attended the event, including Les Adler, a town council member from the nearby Westchester County town of Greenburgh.
“It’s a great boon for Westchester,” he said. “I think [Mrs. Clinton] realizes she can’t win this election without winning Westchester.”
In their new hometown of Chappaqua earlier in the day, Mr. Clinton and daughter Chelsea helped Mrs. Clinton out with her first-time campaign when they stopped at a Starbucks for coffee.
As the presidential motorcade pulled up, only two reporters and about a half-dozen customers were inside. But as soon as the villagers saw the commotion, they flocked there after being checked with a portable metal detector by Secret Service officers.
“Having the Clintons in town really affects how you feel about them as candidates,” said Gary Gustafson, a Republican who lives in the wealthy suburb.
Chappaqua resident Barbara Turitzin brought her daughters Emily, 6, and Allison, 9, into the coffee shop to meet the Clintons during their half-hour stop there, as they were mobbed by admirers and signed autographs.
“I said to President Clinton, ‘How do you live this way?’ ” she said. “Chelsea leaned in my ear and said, ‘Practice.’ “

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