- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton officially started her reelection campaign this morning, promising to fight for energy independence and fair wages, but she avoided questions about a potential presidential run in 2008.

“I know you took a chance on me back in 2000 and I have worked every day to earn your trust,” the New York Democrat said when accepting the nomination at the state Democratic convention in Buffalo. “It has been the most extraordinary experience.”

Taking a sharply critical tone against the Bush administration and Republicans who control Congress, the former first lady asked New Yorkers to “stand with me” as she works to create good paying jobs and to fund research for alternative energy.

“Stand with me as I continue the fight for affordable quality health care,” said Mrs. Clinton. “Stand with me as I fight to raise the minimum wage, which hasn’t been raised for nearly a decade.”

Mrs. Clinton, who may still face an anti-war challenger in a September Democratic primary, asked convention attendees to “stand for our troops” by making sure they have the body armor and equipment they need for combat.

Democrats must pressure the Bush administration and the Iraq government to assume responsibility for their own safety, “So that we can begin to bring our troops home,” said Mrs. Clinton, who voted for the Iraq war.

The senator criticized the Bush administration’s energy policy and called the president fiscally irresponsible, and called the response to Hurricane Katrina a “disgrace.”

“I believe in a government that makes decisions based on facts and sadly that seems to be an unusual idea in Washington these days,” she said. “We need new leadership and I believe we are going to start seeing that happen this November. Americans know we have to change direction.”

She closed the speech, which drew international coverage, with a “God bless you.”

After the coronation from state Democrats, Mrs. Clinton’s day was to be capped with calls from her and former President Clinton into house parties hosted around the country.

Mrs. Clinton was elected in 2000 with 55 percent, beating then-Rep. Rick Lazio, a Republican who is now an executive in New York. Possible Republican challengers include Kathleen McFarland, a Reagan-era Pentagon official, and former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer.

Mrs. Clinton was elected in 2000 with 55 percent, beating then-Rep. Rick Lazio, a Republican who is now an executive in New York.

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