ALBANY, N.Y. Hillary Rodham Clinton was officially nominated for the Senate yesterday at the state Democratic Party’s convention as speculation grew that New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani would remain in the country’s most-watched Senate race.
“This election is not about me or any Republican opponent. It’s about the people of New York and our common mission: To strengthen our families and protect our children,” Mrs. Clinton said to the cheers of 11,000 party supporters.
“Despite the strides and progress we’ve made, there are still too many forgotten New Yorkers. I’ve met them. I’ve met the millions of children, the statistics, the faces we put on those statistics that demonstrate what its like to be caught up in poverty and despair… . I know we can do better and New York should not settle for less.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Giuliani suggested to supporters at a campaign fund-raiser that he is leaning toward staying in the race.
“I’m very much inclined to do this. I would like to do it. I’m trying to figure out if it’s the right thing to do,” he said at a campaign fund-raiser late Monday night.
Also yesterday, a new poll showed the first lady and mayor locked in a virtual tie, despite recent announcements by Mr. Giuliani that he has prostate cancer and is separating from his wife.
The Quinnipiac College Polling Institute survey, with a margin of error of 3.5 percent, showed Mrs. Clinton favored by 44 percent of voters, while 43 percent said they backed Mr. Giuliani. The numbers are statistically unchanged from a Quinnipiac poll out May 1 that had Mrs. Clinton at 46 percent and Mr. Giuliani at 44 percent.
The poll found that 78 percent of respondents said the Republican mayor’s difficulties would not influence their November vote in the race to fill a Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who is retiring.
Mr. Giuliani actually has gained since his two announcements. A New York Times poll published April 7 showed Mrs. Clinton ahead 49 percent to 41 percent.
The first lady’s nomination last night ratified what most Democrats have thought all along Mrs. Clinton’s star power and faithful adherence to party ideology make her a dream candidate.
President Clinton rearranged his schedule to attend last night’s festivities at the Pepsi Arena for his wife, the only active first lady to run for office.
“I just decided I ought to be there,” Mr. Clinton said before leaving Washington. “It’s a big deal for her, a big night for her and I want to be there with her. I just want to be there to support her.”
In her 38-minute address that ended with the triumphant theme from the movie “Chariots of Fire,” Mrs. Clinton boasted the same platform that got her to that stage in the first place: government-funded health care for all, environmental care, improved public education and child care for everyone.
Mr. and Mrs. Clinton took the darkened stage hand in hand, both waving to a relentlessly cheering crowd. The couple’s entrance with the noise, the orchestral music and the flashbulbs was akin to a highly charged rock band hitting the stage.
Mrs. Clinton wore a lemon yellow outfit, a string of pearls and a smile of appreciation.
After a few waves and without a word, the president stepped back as Mrs. Clinton moved to the microphone and lavished praise on her husband while accepting the unanimous nomination from the 352 delegates to the state Democratic Party convention.
“I am delighted the president is here this evening, and I am so grateful for his support. I would not be standing here tonight if it were not for Bill and all he has done for me.”
He mouthed a silent “thank you” to his wife and bowed his head.
It was easily the largest party convention ever, said party spokesman Peter Kaufmann. Almost all the attendees brought an enthusiastic love of the candidate with them. It didn’t matter that, unlike past conventions, there was no close, contentious race.
“This is Hillary; she’s dynamic, smart I’m in awe,” said delegate Nancy Polech of Syracuse. Her sentiments were shared by almost everyone. Most attendees wore Hillary stickers on their lapels and arrived three hours early.
Carmen Pascarella from Rochester wore a badge that read, “Carmen Pascarella supports Hillary.”
Like his peers, he cited his love for the candidate as he stood outside: “I met Hillary in Geneva, New York. She was vivacious, overpowering. That was it for me.” He toted with him a photo of Mrs. Clinton and himself at a diner.
The party is not expected to run a primary. Two hopeful nominees, retired police Lt. Peter Ruane and Manhattan surgeon Mark McMahon, 39, failed to present the required 15 signatures for their consideration, Mr. Kaufmann said.
Mr. McMahon, though, stood outside the arena before the doors opened, talking with Hillary fans to gain support for his challenge.
“As I travel around, I find tremendous resentment” of Hillary, he said. The key difference between himself and the first lady? “I’m a New Yorker.”
With no competition, Mrs. Clinton was feted by a list of state and federal dignitaries.
In his speech nominating Mrs. Clinton, Sen. Charles E. Schumer called the first lady a “healer, a uniter” who could help both New York City and the upstate.
“She has the backbone to stand up to anyone who would try to split New York City and New York state apart,” Mr. Schumer said.
“If this race is decided over who can touch the hearts and minds of New York families, Hillary will win.”
U.S. Rep. Charles B. Rangel, in his deep, strangled voice, said Mrs. Clinton did not pick New York for her campaign, “New York picked Hillary.”
U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey said “This is a great day, because to the list of great men who have served this state … we will add, for the very first time, the name of an outstanding and inspiring woman.” The emphasis she put on the last word ebbed in a deluge of applause.