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Monitor: The American press comments on Hillary Clinton's faltering campaign to run for the Senate next year

The Washington Post

Polls weren't the only bad news last week for the First Lady. A Democratic representative from that bastion of liberalism, the Upper West Side, actually urged Mrs Clinton not to run. "She's the weakest candidate," Councilwoman Eldridge told the Associated Press. Citing "many problems", Ms Eldridge said there is dissatisfaction with what she calls Mrs Clinton's "very risky" candidacy. No comment from Mrs Clinton or her spokesman on that one. Meanwhile, New York State Democratic Chairwoman, Judith Hope, has been rumbling about the "incompatibility" between being First Lady and Senate candidate, suggesting "maybe Mrs Clinton has to give up her day job". It was on her "day job," of course, that she recently shocked the world when she failed to muster a reaction, any reaction, to a ranting Suha Arafat, wife of Yasser Arafat. Mrs Clinton could manage only a hug for Mrs Arafat, demonstrating that simply keeping one's mouth shut is not always a fail-safe barrier against the insertion of one's foot.

The Item

Hillary Clinton, who keeps tantalising her worshipful followers with the prospect that she might run for a US Senate seat in New York, is finding the road to elective office increasingly rockier. Following her attendance at a speech by Suha Arafat, wife of PLO leader Yasser Arafat, during which Mrs Arafat accused Israel of a deliberate campaign of mass murder against innocent women and children, claiming the Israelis were spiking their water and air, Hillary embraced Mrs Arafat. Hillary's response to the inflammatory rhetoric was that she was keeping silent in order to "save the peace process". What a wonderful phrase, how sanctimonious, how Clintonian. Never once did she repudiate Mrs Arafat's remarks. Her defenders quickly joined the damage control and spin-doctoring parade. No wonder Hillary is plummeting in New York polls as voters in that state are beginning to see her as a female version of her husband, always ready with excuses and disingenuous explanations whenever something goes awry. This latest pratfall reinforces the perception that her political sense is tone deaf.

New York Daily News

Hillary Clinton has the political instincts of a turnip. Her Senate campaign has been slickly packaged, and she had a lot of people fooled, but then she and hubby tried to get cute. Bill Clinton is a master manipulator, but he and Hillary over-reached on their pardon plan for the FALN terrorists and ended up bungling everything like amateurs. For all the Clintonian blather about Hillary's burning passion for public service, the would- be Joan of Arkansas is simply on a power trip. (Quincy R Jackson)

Arizona Daily Star

It wasn't supposed to work this way. Hillary Clinton's national visibility as First Lady was expected to provide her pending New York Senate campaign with invaluable publicity that could not be matched by her Republican rival, a mere mayor of New York City. Her initial forays into the state were greeted with the adulation found most often these days only among youthful readers of Harry Potter. But Rudolph Giuliani is making more political points in his own day job thus far than Clinton has managed to do in hers. He is cleverly manipulating the task of running a big city by taking policy positions that appeal to identifiable groups of voters across the state. She, by contrast, has not yet mastered the correct balance between fulfilling her public responsibilities as the wife of a president and defending the interests of New York state. (Marianne Means)