Hillary Clinton Formally Launches Bid For Senate Seat From New YorkAired February 6, 2000 - 3:30 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GENE RANDALL, CNN ANCHOR: First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton today makes history by formally launching her bid for the U.S. Senate from New York. She is doing to from a state university campus in Purchase, New York not far from the Clinton's new home in Chappaqua. Speaking at the moment is Senator Charles Schumer of New York. Today's announcement caps many months of Mrs. Clinton's unofficial candidacy. President Clinton and daughter Chelsea are there for the event.
And CNN's White House correspondent John King is there as well -- John.
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: (OFF-MIKE) ... six months, she will be a candidate for the United States Senate seat being vacated by the long-time Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan. This is Mrs. Clinton's first run for elective office. A grueling campaign expected here in New York.
Her likely Republican opponent, although he has not officially announced yet, the New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani. Polls show a relatively (OFF-MIKE) ... said he led at one point early one. (OFF- MIKE) ... the mayor leading 47 percent to 40 percent in the latest Marist Institute Poll.
The first lady (OFF-MIKE) ... launched her campaign today. One big issue, of course, is she a New Yorker, is she representing people of New York? Just moments ago, the dean of the state's congressional delegation, Congressman Charlie Rangel addressed that issue. He said if you need help in public service, you don't ask somebody where they're from, you ask if they're willing to serve.
So already the first lady's friends trying to help her out today to answer what many consider the threshold question, is she running to represent New York, or is she running to advance her own national political agenda -- Gene.
RANDALL: Thanks, John.
With me in the studio is Bill Schneider, our senior political analyst. Bill, what kind of political shape is the first lady in as she formally launches this bid for the Senate?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Gene, it's a very tight race. She's not in as good a shape as she was even a year ago at the end of the impeachment ordeal when she was running ahead of Mayor Giuliani. The latest polls, as John King just said, shows her trailing the New York City mayor.
Another poll just came out today, the Quinnipiac College Poll, which shows here behind also 45 to 42, 45 percent for Giuliani, 42 percent for Mrs. Clinton. But both of these polls are interesting because they both show that she ties among women voters in New York. She is not running ahead of the mayor among women and that's a problem that she has to attend to in her announcement today.
RANDALL: Bill, Mayor Giuliani of New York today probably tied the modern record for talk show appearances set by Bill Ginsberg (ph), Monica Lewinsky's first lawyer. He did every major TV talk show today in what was obviously designed as a round of preemptive strikes. Let's listen to a bit of what he said on one of the talk shows today, our own with Wolf Blitzer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER")
MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK CITY: ... single biggest issue in this race will be the single biggest issue in any race, who do the public trust more to represent them. Who does the public think is going to do a better job in this particular case of representing the state of New York in the United States Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RANDALL: This is a politician who is known for the rough and tumble. Today, if anything, he seemed to be understated. How did he do?
SCHNEIDER: I thought he did very well, because he simply said, I'm going to be running to represent the people of New York. Key words, New York, represent. She has never lived or worked in New York State. Her campaign is mostly about national ideas and national issues.
She's got to somehow make it clear to the voters of New York, today perhaps, that her agenda will be their agenda, because frankly, especially in upstate New York, the carpetbagger charge that she's come from nowhere, from Washington, from Arkansas to try to claim the seat to further her own career, they suspect that and that's why she's running behind.
RANDALL: Do you think we'll see a kinder, gentler Rudy Giuliani in the days ahead?
SCHNEIDER: It's hard to imagine such a thing, but he was pretty kind and gentle today, when she's tried to portray him as a bully -- her people -- I won't say she's done this, but her staff has tried to portray as someone who's part of the vast right-wing conspiracy, who's going to be used to -- by the anti-Clinton forces.
Number one, his views are not that right wing. On our own "LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER," he talked about supporting the minimum wage increase, supporting the patients' bill of rights and the right of patients to sue, supporting the president's agenda on a whole number of issues. He's not a right winger.
Second of all, it's hard to portray him as someone who's going to be pushed around somehow by the right-wing who run Congress here in Washington, because frankly, New Yorkers don't believe that anybody pushes Mayor Giuliani around.
RANDALL: Bill, one major piece of business for the Clinton campaign now in New York for the first lady is to reintroduce her to the voters of that state. She will argue she has been misperceived, and part of the effort today is an 18-minute biographical video of Mrs. Clinton. I want to look at part of that and then ask you about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN AD)
DOROTHY RODHAM CLINTON, HILLARY CLINTON'S MOTHER: She was a good child without being too good.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FIRST LADY: I was very fortunate that I lived with both my parents and my two younger brothers in a close-knit neighborhood. I went to really good public schools. My father was a small businessman. He had a small drapery company that didn't employ very many people except every so often he would draft my mother and my brothers and I to help him print the fabrics that he designed and sold. We had a wonderful time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RANDALL: This is obviously a softer Hillary Rodham Clinton, to what end, Bill?
SCHNEIDER: To the end that I mentioned before. She is now tied with Giuliani among women voters in New York. One of the constituencies she has to bolster her standing with is women.
This video, this biography is soft focused. It focuses on children, on her mother, who's featured very prominently in it on her life's background, it focuses on her role as a woman, her relationship both with her mother and with her daughter. This is aimed at shoring up her support among women voters in New York. A lot of them sympathize with her when they saw her as a victim a year ago during the impeachment saga, but now see her differently. They see her as a pol (ph) and that's not a very flattering light.
RANDALL: You saw the entire 18 minutes. How would you characterize it?
SCHNEIDER: Very soft, very biographical. Emphasizing her commitment, her personal convictions on issues like health care, women's rights, children's rights, and also emphasizing her willingness to speak out. New Yorkers value that. It showed her speaking in China, it showed -- and I'm not sure this was wise -- her meeting with Mrs. Arafat on the West Bank, which was very controversial. But it does say that she speaks her mind. In fact, it featured one incident quite prominently, mentioned it several times, that when she graduated Wellesley College in the 1960s she gave a speech that was sensational. She threw away her prepared text and spoke out about the issues that were then whirling the country, because it wants to make the point -- like a true New Yorker, this woman will speak her mind.
RANDALL: And what kind of campaign do you see her running in New York, Bill?
SCHNEIDER: Well, she's going to have to run upstate very hard, because that's where the carpetbagger issue hurts her most. New York City, they don't care about carpetbaggers. Most people came from somewhere else to begin with, many from another country. But in upstate New York, yes, they worry about that and they wonder, how can she understand what life is like, the taxes we pay, the education issues that we face, if she's never lived or worked here?
I can't find another example, save Robert F. Kennedy, which is a questionable example, but I can't find another example of a politician being elected to a major statewide office in any state who's never lived or worked in the state. And when RFK was elected senator from New York in 1964, it was very much on the coattails of Lyndon Johnson, who won New York the very same day on the same ballot by 2,700,000 votes. Kennedy got elected by 700,000. It's hard to see how either Gore or Bradley at the top of the Democratic ticket is going to have coattails the way LBJ did in 1964.
RANDALL: Robert Kennedy in that year, of course, defeating Republican Kenneth Keating.
SCHNEIDER: That's right.
RANDALL: We must take a break, as we await the start of Hillary Rodham Clinton's official announcement that indeed she will run for the U.S. Senate from New York. We'll be back in a moment.
RANDALL: Welcome back.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first lady of this country will announce that she is a candidate for the U.S. Senate in New York, as she tries to succeed Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who is retiring.
Let's go back to Purchase, New York, where the announcement is still some minutes away.
CNN's senior White House correspondent John King is there.
John, I know there is an 18-minute biographical video which is being played at the moment. How focused is the Hillary Clinton campaign effort to reintroduce her to the voters on her own terms?
KING: Well, that is their main mission today. They say in this speech, through this video we're seeing right here at the announcement right now, 400,000 flyers being distributed across this state entitled "Hillary: the Real Story."
Obviously, the first lady has been a very controversial figure in American politics these past seven years. She was controversial back in Arkansas as well. This a chance for her. She says she has been mischaracterized by her critics, and she acknowledges she perhaps has not done as good a job as she would like to have done to explain herself.
A bit of a role reversal here today. The first lady has traditionally been out supporting her husband in his political effort -- when he was governor of Arkansas, when he was running for president back in 1991 and 19921. Of course, she led the health care reform task force, turned into a political disaster for both the president and the first lady. Now she steps out on her own.
We have not seen her today. She has been off in private rehearsing her speech, we are told. We did see the president and daughter Chelsea Clinton earlier today. They went into Mrs. Clinton's new hometown of Chappaqua to the Starbucks, a little coffee, a little sightseeing early this morning for them. They will be in a supporting role here today. No remarks from the president, although we are told that he does participate in some of the strategy sessions, and he did offer his wife some advice today as she prepared her announcement speech -- Gene.
RANDALL: John, is there an acceptance among the inner circle of Hillary Rodham Clinton's organization that she must be a different kind of candidate in the months ahead if she is to make progress against Rudy Giuliani?
KING: They certainly do accept that and on several fronts. First and foremost, in her first six months of exploring she made several mistakes as she explored the ethnic politics of New York, mistakes meeting with some of the leaders here. They felt slighted by her. They felt she came in thinking that they would immediately support her, and she did not reach out to them.
She's working a much more aggressive inside game, and she says she also must be much more accessible, not only to the news media -- and a very competitive news media here in the state of New York -- but on the point you were discussing with Bill Schneider earlier. She wants to show the people of New York that she wants to fight for them. There is some skepticism that she wants to be in the Senate for a national political platform. She needs to make the case she wants to fight for the people of New York.
If you picked up your "New York Times" this morning, she does an interview in which she talks about how shocked she was when she saw her property tax bill for the first time, also talks about her first visit to the supermarket. The first lady trying to cast a new image here, trying to relate herself more to the people now whose votes she desperately needs -- women voters in New York, suburban voters in New York -- and she certainly can't expect a win upstate, but she does very much need to cut into the mayor's lead up there. RANDALL: And, John, once again that biographical video is continuing behind you. we'll get back to you in just a few moments.
Today's official announcement, of course, comes after many months of unofficial campaigning by the first lady. How has she been received by voters in New York to this point?
Here is Deborah Feyerick in New York.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's something about Hillary Clinton that opinionated New Yorkers either love or hate.
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORKER: She's got guts.
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORKER: Between her and Bill, I think they should just stay out of public office from here on in.
FEYERICK: The Chicago, Boston, Arkansas, Washington and now Chappaqua resident has lived in the state for only a month, a problem for some New Yorkers, not for others.
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORKER: I'm uncomfortable having someone come in from outside the area and just set up shop here.
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORKER: It doesn't matter because I'm not from New York, too.
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORKER: I think it takes a person to have lived here, paid taxes here and gone through the educational system to truly know the problems and needs of the state.
FEYERICK: Still, Hillary Clinton's time in the Arkansas governor's mansion and White House weighs on voters' minds.
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORKER: Being the president's wife, I mean she has a very good grasp on the issues.
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORKER: Her experience in New York is limited at best.
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORKER: She's been in politics a long time and I think she has the educational criteria and I think she could do it.
FEYERICK: She's won friends on some policies but not on others.
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORKER: I don't think so. She's a friend of Israel and I don't think so she's a friend of New Yorkers either.
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORKER: She cares about kids. She cares about health.
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORKER: I don't like her views on the situation in Vieques or the political prisoners, the way she wavered on both.
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORKER: She seems to have good intentions. FEYERICK: As for her character...
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORKER: I think I'll pass on comment on that.
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORKER: I think she's been very intelligent. She does a lot of research before she does stand for something.
FEYERICK: She's remained standing by her man.
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORKER: I'm not too crazy about the whole Clinton shenanigans and I think she's part of it.
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORKER: Couples have marital problems and I think she rode through that as a champion.
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORKER: There's no denying the fact that her and her husband, the president, are a team and you can't have one without the other.
FEYERICK: So what are her chances?
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORKER: No, I think it's great. It's just about woman time now.
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORKER: Hey, she could try like everybody else. It's a free country, right?
FEYERICK: Whether New Yorkers like it or not.
Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.
RANDALL: Bill Schneider, John King alluded to the fact that President Clinton has no formal role in today's ceremony. But he also said that the president is, of course, advising his wife. Now do you suppose he advised her on the merits of running as a new Democrat?
SCHNEIDER: Well, apparently he did, because she's stressing, according to the "New York Times" interview this morning, she's stressing her credentials as a new Democrat. She has an image of being the most liberal member of the Clinton administration, but yet she's now talking about her support for the death penalty, her support for welfare reform, which Senator Moynihan, whom she wants to succeed, voted against, saying that it would throw children out on the street. And she's talking about her support for a balanced budget. She's trying to run as a Democrat, a Bill Clinton Democrat.
RANDALL: She is running in a state where her husband won with well in excess of two million votes in 1996. Is that any built-in advantage which is guaranteed?
SCHNEIDER: It's not guaranteed, but it's certainly an advantage. New York has a heavy Democratic registration edge. It's one of the states Democrats believe they can count on in a presidential election, though, I hasten to add, voted for Ronald Reagan twice. Nevertheless, it is a state that tilts Democratic. not by decisive margins.
The problem is will Al Gore or Bill Bradley have that kind of a margin this year in November? It looks doubtful. Right now, the polls show Gore and Bush, if they are the nominees of the two parties, are running very, very close. So it doesn't look like it's going to be a Democratic landslide in New York.
And frankly, there's a big question mark over this presidential election, and that's John McCain. A lot of Democrats and independents like John McCain. If he turns out to be the Republican nominee, oh boy, watch out.
RANDALL: And hasn't he gotten, really, a lot of attention in New York simply because Bush's people, from Governor Pataki on down, tried to keep McCain off the ballot and finally had to surrender? So he will have ballot access. He's getting a windfall of publicity just from that, isn't he?
SCHNEIDER: That's right. It's a real bonanza for John McCain. He looks like the guy, you know, who took on the impossible task, overthrew the bosses, the machine, the establishment of the New York Republican Party which tried to freeze him out and won. And he won. And New Yorkers are kind of excited by that, the little guy taking on the system, especially people like the mayor -- the governor of New York -- and the mayor, who of course supports George Bush as well.
RANDALL: In Purchase, New York, today, the first lady will be introduced by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. She, of course, would like to succeed him in the U.S. Senate. And when that happens we'll bring it to you, but right now we'll take a break.
RANDALL: There is a major Clinton family event today in Purchase, New York, outside New York City. It is not for the president, it is for his wife, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, She will formally announce her bid for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
And our senior White House correspondent, John King, is there.
John, tell me about the turnout for today's event.
KING: We have a who's who here of New York Democratic officials. They might as well have the state convention. Members of Congress here, city Democrats as well as Democrats from all around the state of New York. Also, a large representative from teachers unions here and other organized labor groups backing the first lady. A small smattering of White House staff on hand as well to watch this. They're traveling here with the president of the United States.
What you're about to see, Gene, a very unique moment that shows where we are, a very confused state of Democratic politics right now. The first lady will be introduced by the man she hopes to replace, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. In the presidential race, Senator Moynihan is a supporter of Bill Bradley. Senator Moynihan is known to not be terribly fond of the president, Mr. Clinton, but he is giving his full support to Mrs. Clinton here. That a sign of the rather unique Democratic politics, as she launches her first run for elective office.
Right now we're in the final minutes of that 18-minute biographical video you mentioned earlier. It was produced by two long-time friends of the Clintons, the Hollywood producers Harry Thomason (ph) and Linda Bloodworth (ph). Thomason, you might remember back at the 1992 Democratic Convention, a long biographical video about Bill Clinton called "The Boy From Hope." That was designed to refurbish his image after very bruising Democratic primaries. The Thomasons also produced this video, as the first lady tries to reintroduce herself not only to the people of New York, but to the people of the United States as well. Although, her worries over the next several months, obviously, building support here in New York.
RANDALL: John, what exactly is the president's role today other than accompanying his wife?
KING: He will sit in the background and just cheer his wife on. People in the -- Mrs. Clinton's campaign say that was his decision, that he could have spoken if he wanted to, but that he wanted her -- this to be her day, as she tries to step out.
A great deal of debate about just how big of a role the president can play as the campaign goes on. He has helped his wife raise money. He has helped with her speech today, we're told, and have been involved in some of the strategy meetings. And he promises if wanted he will play a very active role in the fall campaign.
Nationally, the president a controversial figure in his final year perhaps. Here in New York, the latest Marist Institute Poll, a 64 percent approval rating. So no evidence at least in the public opinion polling that the president hurts his wife. The big question is, though, people in New York say she needs to win this on her own, so his role will be limited, at least in the short term. Look for him, though, to help with turnout come November.
RANDALL: We of course assume that the Republican opponent for Mrs. Clinton will be Rudy Giuliani, the Republican mayor of New York City. He did all the talk shows this morning and he talked about himself and his own case for election. Let's hear some of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: One of the attacks that they make every other day is, the mayor is too much of a fighter, he's too tough. The other attack that they make is, oh, gee, he's just going to do what Republicans tell him to do. Well, maybe the reality is that I'm an independent person, I believe in Republican principles, but I'm pretty good at advocating, I'm pretty good at getting for the people that I serve the things that they need.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RANDALL: Bill Schneider, we talked about this before. This was a very understated Rudy Giuliani, wasn't it?
SCHNEIDER: Yes. Well, it was understated, but he made it clear that he's a fighter. You know, there's something interesting and odd about Giuliani. He often takes up causes that he doesn't win. Remember he tried to shut down the Brooklyn Museum of Art because they showed an exhibit that he thought was sacrilegious. He tried to revise the city charter in a very unpopular move, rejected by the voters three to one. And the voters turn against him. They don't like those things he's doing. And every time he does it, his ratings go up. Why? Because they think he's a fighter. He's someone who will fight for the city of New York, fight -- he hopes they'll see him as fighting for the state of New York.
RANDALL: In what kind of shape is he in going into this race, again, assuming he will make the announcement?
SCHNEIDER: Well, he has certain advantages. You know, he -- the mayor of New York is never popular upstate. As far as upstate New Yorkers are concerned, New York City is Mars. But the problem is, she is not very popular upstate either. So he's leading her, but not a decisive margin. That's where the battle will be fought.
His base is not in New York City, where she's leading by a very good margin, he's going to cut into that a bit, because he's a popular mayor, but still, New York City, that's Democratic. His base is in the suburbs of New York. As I like to put it, the suburbs of New York watch New York City television, they think he's done a great job, it's a safe place to go to the theater now, but they don't have to live with him. They don't have to live with the turmoil and the traumas that he causes, and that's where he's best.
RANDALL: Bill, at the risk of being too personal, I will tell you, growing up north of New York City, when I was a small child someone said to me there is a place in New York called Buffalo. I said, no, there isn't. They said, yes, there is. I said, no, there isn't. There can't be a place in New York called Buffalo, which I think goes to your point that there are separate worlds in New York. I'm not proud of that ignorance that I displayed then and I've come to appreciate all of New York. But is upstate where this is going to be told, where the story is going to be told?
SCHNEIDER: I think it will be. That's about 40 to 45 percent of the voters in New York State. There are a lot of them up there. Nobody knows who they are. Wolf Blitzer is from Buffalo. You'll have to talk to him. But it's -- a lot of voters are up there and that is where the carpetbagger issue as well as the liberal image of Hillary Rodham Clinton is hurting her. That's why she's running as a new Democrat and that's why in the next couple of weeks she's going to focus her campaign effort in upstate New York, because right now upstate voters favor Giuliani over Mrs. Clinton. Although, as I say, the mayor of New York has never been a popular figure upstate.
RANDALL: And a few minutes from now we'll be hearing from Chappaqua resident Hillary Rodham Clinton. But right now, we'll take a break.
RANDALL: President Clinton, his wife, and daughter Chelsea are in Purchase, New York today. It is the first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is in the spotlight. She is formally announcing she is a candidate, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from New York. She is being introduced by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who is retiring. Let's go to Purchase, New York.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
SEN. DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN (D), NEW YORK: ... and it was decided that I would go and take our daughter, who had never been. So I hired a carriage and we made our way around through the Secret Service checkpoints, and we were sniffed and prodded and scrutinized, and finally got to the west entrance and a beaming young Secret Service agent looked in the window and said, good evening, Senator Thurmond.
Which brings me -- reminds me that indeed in just three years I will have spent a half a century in New York politics.
I got out of the Navy, finished graduate school and went off on a full ride to wander around the world for a bit, came back 1953, went right to work in the mayoral campaign of Robert F. Wagner for mayor of New York. Next came the Harriman campaign for governor and the Harriman administration, then the Kennedy administration. In each of which settings I came to know Eleanor Roosevelt.
President Kennedy set up a commission on the status of women with her as chair and she would ask us up to Valkil (ph) and there would be wonderful evenings. stories of the 1930s, and discussions of issues to come, lots of martinis, and you came to love this person so because she cared so much about others.
And I would like say to the lady who put a picture of Eleanor Roosevelt on her White House office wall the day she arrived, Hillary, where are you? Hillary, Eleanor Roosevelt would love you.
And here she is, our next senator and our first lady senator ever, to tell you what she's going to do with the trust we're going to impose on her.
H. CLINTON: Thank you and thank you Senator Moynihan for that very generous introduction and for all the support that you and Liz have given to me. You know New York and America are greatly indebted to Senator Moynihan for your years of courageous and visionary leadership.
No one has done more to remind us that families are the bedrock of our society. I want to thank Chuck Schumer, Charlie Rangel, and Nita Lowey for their friendship, for their kind words and for all that each of them does for New York. And I want to thank all the members of the congressional delegation who are here today. Thank you all for coming.
And I want to thank Comptroller Tom McCall, Speaker Shelly Silver and all of the state elected officials who are with us.
And I so pleased to be here at Purchase College State University of New York.
I know that Purchase was recently named one of the finest regional public liberal arts colleges in the entire country.
And it is part of the greatest state university system in this country.
I think all of the young singers and entertainers and I especially want to thank Amity Weiss (ph) from Ithaca for representing young New Yorkers and all of their possibilities. Thank you, Amity.
And I thank all my fellow New Yorkers for coming out on this wintry Sunday afternoon to be with me. My long-time friends, my new supporters, elected officials, all of you, I appreciate your being with me. And I know that there are about 1,000 more in the overflow room, and I'm very glad you could be here as well.
I'm so grateful to Bill and Chelsea, my mother and my brothers, and all of our families -- those who could be with us and those who could not, today.
And I'm pleased that I have with me, also, some old friends from my childhood in Chicago, my college days and law-school years in New England, my wonderful years in Arkansas and as first lady. Thank you all for a lifetime's worth of love and encouragement.
You know, the first time I spoke to a group this large was at my college commencement in 1969. I'm a little older now...
... a little blonder...
... a lot humbler. I've gone to work, I've raised a child, and I've spent 30 years trying to better the lives of children and families. But I often return to one thing I said way back then, that politics is the art of making possible what appears to be impossible.
I still believe that today. We can do what seems impossible if we have the vision, the passion and the will to do it together.
We've seen what's possible in the progress we've made over the last seven years, and I am proud and grateful to have been a part of it.
And I am convinced we can move on from here to meet the challenges that lie ahead. We can strengthen our families, we can protect our children, we can improve our schools, we can provide health care to all our citizens, and we can bring good jobs to every corner of New York.
Because I believe we can meet these challenges together, I am honored today to announce my candidacy for the United States Senate from New York.
Thank you. Now I know, some people are asking why I'm doing this here and now. And that's a fair question.
Here's my answer and why I hope you'll put me to work for you. I may be new to the neighborhood, but I'm not new to your concerns.
When I ate lunch with teachers at a school in Queens, I heard how hard it is to teach and learn when 2,000 kids are crammed into a building designed for half that number. And I thought -- I thought about the work I've done for 20 years to improve our public schools. Now I want to make sure that every child in New York has the best possible public education, with well-trained teachers in modern classrooms connected to the Internet.
That's why I want to be your senator.
When I visited businesses from Jamestown to Great Neck, I thought about my father who ran a small business and worked hard every day. I thought of all the work I did, first in Arkansas and then as first lady, throughout America and in developing companies, to improve training for workers and to provide credit for entrepreneurs and bring jobs to areas with high unemployment. Now I want to bring the prosperity of this new economy to all New Yorkers, from upstate towns and farms to inner-city neighborhoods. That's why I want to be your senator.
When I spoke with breast cancer survivors at Adelphi University, I thought about Bill's mother and the courageous battle she fought until her last day. Over the past seven years, I've worked to include annual mammograms under Medicare, and to increase funding for research, detection and treatment of breast cancer.
Now I want finally to pin down the environmental connections to cancer on Long Island or elsewhere.
And I want to provide the research funds to prevent and cure cancer, AIDS and other diseases. That's why I want to be your senator.
You know, when I sat on porches and in back yards from Elmira to New Rochelle, I heard parents' concerns about the media's influence on their children, and I thought about all the conversations Bill and I had with our friends when Chelsea was growing up about how to protect our children from the influences of a popular culture that glorifies guns and violence.
That's why I've advocated for better programming for children, the V-chip and zero tolerance for guns in schools.
Now I want to challenge the entertainment industry to establish a voluntary, uniform rating system for movies, TV programs and video games that parents can actually use to protect their children. That's why I want to be your senator.
When I listen to young people from Buffalo to Brooklyn talk about how a caring adult or an after-school program turned their lives around, I thought about all the children I had tutored and represented over the years who were very poor or victims of child abuse or caught up in the foster care system. I'm more committed than ever to helping these children, to giving them the child care and the pre-school, the summer school, after-school and mentoring programs they need. After all, they're all our children, and that's I want to be your senator. (APPLAUSE)
For over 30 years in many different ways, I've seen first-hand the kinds of challenges New Yorkers face today. I care about the same issues you do. I understand them, and I know I can make progress on them. That's why, my friends, I want to be your senator.
My life's work has been motivated by fundamental beliefs that are at the heart of my decision to run. I believe every child counts and every child should have a chance. I believe raising children is every parent's most important job. I believe all parents must be responsible and be able to succeed at home and at work, and that no child should grow up in poverty in America in the 21st century.
I believe the solutions to our public problems ought to be based on core American values: community and opportunity, responsibility and enterprise. That means I support a balanced budget and more investments in education; welfare reform and better child care for working parents; tougher child support enforcement and second-chance homes for unwed mothers; more police on the beat and fewer guns on the street...
... better protection for the environment and steady economic progress.
I'm a New Democrat. I don't believe government is the source of all our problems or the solution to them. But I do believe that when people live up to their responsibilities, we ought to live up to ours, to help them build better lives. That's the basic bargain we owe one another in America today.
To fulfill that basic bargain for New York, I'll have to fight. Well, I've had some experience with that, too.
When I pushed for teacher testing and higher standards in the 1980s in the face of protests and boycotts, when I went to Beijing to speak out for women's rights as human rights...
... in the face of strong opposition to my trip, both here and there, when I tried to get affordable quality health care for all Americans against all the odds and the special interest groups...
... I won the first two battles. And as you may recall, I lost the last one. But instead of giving up, I learned to take a different approach. That's why I fought for the Children's Health Insurance Program, which already has insured two million children, with funding for three million more.
That's why I fought to make sure new mothers could at least stay overnight in the hospital and to protect workers from losing their insurance if they changed jobs.
That's why I'm still fighting for a real patient's bill of rights, and why I'll keep fighting until every American has access to health care.
If you'll put me to work for you, I'll take these values to the United States Senate and I'll fight my heart out for you every single day. I'll be on your side in the fight for higher standards, smaller classes and well-trained teachers in modern classrooms, so that our kids can learn what I call the six R's: not just reading, 'riting and 'rithmitic, but also responsibility, respect and results.
I'll be on your side in the fight for a fiscal plan that pays down the national debt, strengthens Social Security for at least 50 years, and modernizes Medicare with new prescription drug coverage.
I'll be on your side in the fight for targeted tax cuts to middle-income families to help with some of our biggest worries: deductions for college tuition, easing the marriage penalty and a tax credit for the care of aging or disabled family members.
I'll be on your side in the fight for a real increase for the minimum wage, an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit for working families, and equal pay for every woman in every job.
I'll be on your side in the fight for tough measures to prosecute hate crimes that tear at our social fabric...
... and to end discrimination against people simply because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religion.
I'll be on your side in the fight to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and away from children, for closing the gun-show loophole, requiring child safety locks and licensing all new handgun owners.
I'll be on your side in the fight to expand family and medical leave, which has already given 20 million Americans time off from work for a new baby or a sick parent.
I'll be on your side in the fight to protect the privacy of our medical, financial and personal records.
I'll be on your side in the fight to find smart new ways to help the least fortunate among us, including the homeless. It may be a hard thing to do, but it's the right thing to do.
I'll be on your side in the fight to bring prosperity to upstate New York and to still-distressed urban areas with new incentives to create jobs, start businesses, reduce air fares and lower utility costs.
I'll be on your side in the fight for a safer world, to pass the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty...
... to strengthen our defenses against biological, chemical and cyber-terrorism, to provide debt relief to the poorest countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia...
... and to work for peace from Northern Ireland to Bosnia and Kosovo, to Greece and Turkey, to India and Pakistan, and to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East which finally guarantees Israel's security.
And I'll be on your side in the fight for a fair share for New York. It is just wrong that today New York sends $15 billion more in taxes each year to Washington than New York gets back. That's a big reason that local property taxes are so high. We can change that, working together.
Now there are also things you can be sure I'll fight against.
I'll be on your side in the fight against school vouchers that drain taxpayer dollars from our public schools.
I'll be on your side in the fight against Republican efforts to undermine family planning or take away a woman's right to choose.
I'll be on your side in the fight against any tax cut so big it would take us back to the bad old days of exploding deficits and deep recessions, making it impossible for us to save Social Security and Medicare, fund our educational needs and pay down our national debt.
And there is one other thing I'll fight against: the divisive politics of revenge and retribution.
If you put me to work for you, I'll work to lift people up, not push them down.
You know, public service has been my life. It hasn't, as yet, included public office. Over the next nine months all of you will decide whether I've earned the privilege of serving you.
I want to thank those of you who have taken the time to visit with me during the last seven months as I've gone from county to county to hear what's on your minds.
I want to thank all of you who have written me or e-mailed me or visited my campaign web site, at hillary2000.org. I want to thank the nearly 600 families across New York who are hosting house parties this afternoon to help launch my campaign.
And I especially want to thank the nearly 25,000 New Yorkers who are attending those house parties this afternoon.
I want to thank the thousands of men and women already working as volunteers on my behalf. I want this to be a people's campaign, a grassroots campaign.
Now I know it's always going to be an easy campaign. But, hey, this is New York.
In the summer of 1998, I went on a bus trip as part of our White House millennial effort to honor the past and imagine the future.
I remember warm July afternoons when we drove through the beautiful New York countryside, from George Washington's Revolutionary War headquarters in Newburgh, to Harriet Tubman's home in Auburn, to the site of the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls.
As I visited these places that captured the greatness of New York's past, I heard in the voices of parents and saw in the eyes of children, their dreams for New York's future.
New York has always been more than just a great state. To people all over the world, it represents the best of America.
It is the golden door, the gateway to opportunity. New York deserves a future worthy of that past.
New York defined what was possible in the 20th century, and New York can make what seems impossible today possible in the 21st century. And that's why I want to be your senator from New York.
Thank you all very much.
RANDALL: First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton now officially a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from New York. Her bottom line in her announcement speech: I will fight for you, I will be on your side. This, of course, addressed to voters in that state. And she said, I will fight against, what she called, the divisive politics of revenge and retribution. It seemed a clear reference to the impeachment days, which so seriously clouded her husband's White House. All this happening today in Purchase, New York.
And our senior White House correspondent John King is there -- John.
KING: Gene, the celebration underway here now. Amazing to watch the president during his wife's announcement. Several times the president put his mouth and his face down in his hand as if he couldn't believe what he was seeing, shaking his head, also looking on quite proudly, though.
The first lady making it official she will be a candidate for the United States Senate, and in launching her campaign, the first lady directly addressed what many think is her biggest issue here, will she fight for the people of New York, or does she want this job to advance her own national interests. She was born in Illinois, educated in New England, spent most of her adult life in Arkansas, and now in Washington. But the first lady made clear she believes she is ready to fight for New York and the United States Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H. CLINTON: Now I know, some people are asking why I'm doing this here and now, and that's a fair question. Here is my answer and why I hope you'll put me to work for you. I may be new to the neighborhood, but I'm not new to your concerns. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Those concerns the first lady said, education, health care reform, money to help clean up the environment, but also to keep the economy going. The first lady flatly declaring, "I'm a new Democrat." She has been regarded for years as the more liberal member of the Clinton partnership, but declaring today in a speech that very well could have been read by her husband that she would push ahead for a balanced budget, support welfare reform, she supports the death penalty as well, a more national message here.
Even as the first lady discussed specific concerns to New York, she delivered a very national Democratic message, mirroring her husband's recent State of the Union address, that in part because she and Mayor Rudy Giuliani, her Republican opponent, they both support abortion rights, they both support gay rights. To succeed her, many in here campaign think she needs to make the case that the Republicans already have a majority in the United States Senate and that the people of New York do not want to send another Republican senator to Washington -- Gene.
RANDALL: So, John, while the president's role was one of cheerleader today, he was very much a part of that speech, wasn't he?
KING: He certainly was. We're told that in private strategy meetings over the past week the president helped write the speech. Also, for months he has been participating in weekly meetings at the White House between the first lady's political staff and her White House staff.
The president's role so far largely behind the scenes, although he is helping her raise money. The big question is how active and how public will he be in the months ahead. Today we're told it was his personal decision to stay out of the limelight, let his wife step out in the shadow. She has supported him and stepped up for him in key moments throughout his career. This was her day. The president looking on quite proudly, shaking his head, though, as if in disbelief several occasions -- Gene.
RANDALL: All right. John, thanks very much. We'll come back and talk with Bill Schneider in just a moment, but first we will take a break.
RANDALL: Today's major political development came in Purchase, New York, outside New York City. That is where the first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, announced formally she is a candidate, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from New York. Her probable opponent is the Republican mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani.
Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider. Bill, what struck you about the first lady's speech?
SCHNEIDER: Her explicit declaration that she's a new Democrat, very much in the mode of her husband and Al Gore. She said that she was for balanced budget, but also more for social programs, welfare reform and better child care. She actually came right out and said, "I am a new Democrat," and here's how she defined it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H. CLINTON: I'm a new Democrat. I don't believe government is the source of all our problems, or the solution to them. But I do believe that when people live up to their responsibilities, we ought to live up to ours, to help them build better lives. That's the basic bargain we owe one another in America today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RANDALL: Bill, Mrs. Clinton also tied herself very much to the prosperity, which she said was attributable, at least in part, to her husband's administration.
SCHNEIDER: That was also very striking, because of course, her husband's best thought of in New York and around the country as having been one of the architects of the new economy that he likes to talk about. So she wants to bring that to bear on the concerns and problems of New Yorkers, as she did in this particular passage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H. CLINTON: Now, I want to bring the prosperity of this new economy to all New Yorkers, from upstate towns and farms to inner-city neighborhoods. That's why I want to be your senator.
When I spoke with breast cancer survivors at a...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RANDALL: Whoops. Technology. Bill, could Al Gore have written a speech as well?
SCHNEIDER: Well, he -- she used the word that he used to reinvent his campaign quite successfully. He won the New Hampshire primary by running on the word fight. And you heard her say fight, fight, fight, about a -- at least a dozen times by my count. She said she's had experience as a fighter on issues like family leave, and going abroad to Beijing and fighting for human rights, and fighting unsuccessfully for health care reform.
She also said she learned to take a different approach. She learned from her mistakes, a very important acknowledgement on her part. And she said she would fight against some of the things that are wrong in Washington. But this notion of being a fighter, that's at the heart of the Gore campaign, it revived his candidacy, and that is clearly going to be at the heart of her campaign. It's going to be at one -- it's going to be very much the same campaign that Al Gore is running as Democratic candidate for president.
RANDALL: And, Bill, finally, she was out to jump start this campaign today, wasn't she?
SCHNEIDER: Yes, she absolutely was. And what's interesting is, you know, on a lot of issues she agrees with Rudy Giuliani, or he agrees with her, abortion, gay rights, minimum wage, patients' bill of rights. But what she's going to do is say that she will fight the Republican Congress as much as Giuliani, because if you send a Republican to Washington, even if he's moderate and agrees with her on a lot of issues, he will be part of keeping that majority in power, and that's something that she's going to portray as threatening to New Yorkers.
RANDALL: Bill, thank you very much, and thank you to our senior White House correspondent, John King, in Purchase, New York.
I'm Gene Randall in Washington. Donna Kelley will have the rest of the day's news in a moment.
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