When Pat Moynihan, the revered New York Democrat, announced in November he would not stand for re-election to the Senate in 2000, he fired the starting pistol for what was described as possibly the Senate race of the century.
One columnist fondly imagined a contest between Hillary - then exulting in her barnstorming campaigning for Democratic candidates in the mid- term elections - and the Republican mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani.
Last weekend, New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli, head of the Democrats' Senatorial Campaign Committee, suggested Mrs Clinton might establish residency in New York before the end of this year to qualify as a Senate candidate. Whether because this was kite-flying originating in her office, or because the White House was otherwise occupied, there was no denial of the report - fuelling the rumour mill still further.
The New York Times saw no difficulty in principle with a Hillary Rodham candidacy. "Empire State voters", it said, "tend to regard anyone famous as an honorary New Yorker." It did warn, however, that Mrs Clinton could expect a tough fight, predicting: "No one will win it in a walk."
But it encouraged her to run in the name of "large fields, intense competition and the general theory of the more the merrier". The White House response was yet more silence.Reuse content