- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 31, 2000

SYRACUSE, N.Y. Rep. Rick Lazio yesterday continued to cultivate his upstate voting base while hammering away at opponent Hillary Rodham Clinton's carpetbagger status.

The Long Island Republican made several stops in hopes of keeping his edge in the polls among western and upstate voters, who favor him 50 percent to 40 percent in a New York Times/CBS News poll.

Pollsters say he needs at least 55 percent to counter the first lady's sizable lead in New York City, and a weekend Zogby poll finds the two in a dead heat overall.

Mr. Lazio, now catching up in the polls among suburban women, painted himself as an advocate of less government and more local control during a "Women for Lazio" luncheon in Rochester.

He started his 45-minute appearance by stating a now-familiar fact offered by both candidates: "We send $15 billion more to Washington than we get back," Mr. Lazio told the crowd of around 300. Relief from that deficit, he said, is a matter of contention in the Senate race.

"The difference between me and Mrs. Clinton is that she wants to dictate your needs, and you would have to qualify for help. I think everybody has different needs. We want to stand against the idea that Washington knows best."

Mr. Lazio repeatedly referred to "Mrs. Clinton," while the first lady refuses to utter her opponent's name, at least in public.

After meeting for 30 minutes with Catholic leaders at the diocese in Syracuse, Mr. Lazio, a Catholic, told reporters his pro-choice stance may not be an issue in the election. In fact, he said, "It seems as though a lot of people who describe themselves as pro-life support my candidacy."

Both candidates will play to the upper regions of the state during the seven days left before the election. Mrs. Clinton wound up a three-day jaunt with stops in Utica and Albany yesterday.

Mr. Lazio has the most work to do. He will not carry New York City and its 4 million voters, where polls find him lagging by almost 30 percentage points.

Upstate and in western New York, with 6.8 million votes and a narrow Republican margin in registration, he could find himself in luck.

Sharon Gumble stood in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rochester clutching a campaign poster of Mr. Lazio and wearing a Bush/Cheney sticker on her white sweatshirt.

The tales of upstate financial woe told by Mrs. Clinton rankles Miss Gumble, 53, who owns a landscaping business. In her Monroe County, Republican Gov. George Pataki won by a 2-1 margin in the 1998 election.

"I think if they leave us alone, we'll do fine," Miss Gumble said. "Any trouble we have is not going to be fixed in Washington.

"I really don't think Hillary should be saying those things."

Also yesterday, Mr. Pataki appeared with Mr. Lazio at a New Rochelle medical center in the morning to announce he would back the state's integration of the Breast and Cervical Cancer Act into the budget next year.

The bill, passed by Congress earlier this month, was authored by Mr. Lazio and became a political issue when President Clinton refused to hold a public ceremony to sign the bill.

When the candidate mentioned Mr. Pataki's action at the Rochester event, he did not mention the controversy that was caused by the president's private signing ceremony.

"This is about public service, not politics," Mr. Lazio commented without elaboration.

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