Hillary rules out 2004 presidential bid

Click to follow
The Independent US

Hillary Rodham Clinton has ruled out cutting short her six-year term as a senator for the state of New York to run for president in 2004.

Hillary Rodham Clinton has ruled out cutting short her six-year term as a senator for the state of New York to run for president in 2004.

Mrs Clinton was speaking at a press conference in New York City following her historic victory as the only First Lady ever to win elected office.

That victory has made her one of the biggest stars in the US senate. But American commentators believe her celebrity could hurt her as much as help her when she returns to Washington in her new role.

"She'll be one of 100 co-equals. She'll have to get used to that," Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican, warned Wednesday. "Getting a lot of attention and getting something done in the Senate don't always go hand-in-hand. If she's smart, she'll keep a pretty low profile for a while."

Asked if she will do that when she enters the Senate, Clinton said it depends. "I don't think that there's one strategy that fits all, there will be different means I choose depending upon what I'm trying to accomplish."

Republicans will be unlikely to do the first lady any favors, especially since there are some suspicions she is using the Senate as a stepping stone to the presidency.

She will serve side-by-side with senators who helped kill her ambitious health care plan, voted to remove her husband from office and held highly partisan hearings on her ill-fated Whitewater land deal.

But Clinton brushed aside questions about her ability to work with those same Republicans, saying with the margin in the Senate so close, bipartisan compromise is a necessity. She noted her work with Republican senators in the past and said she even received a congratulatory call from Sen. Orrin Hatch, the conservative Utah Republican who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

"I think I will get a very positive reception," she said. "I think there's a lot of room for working together."

But Ross Baker, political scientist at Rutgers University, said the impeachment hearings in particular bred ill will in the Senate between the Clintons and the Republicans.

"At the very least, the Republican leadership will probably go out of their way to make her feel as if she's kind of crashed the party," Baker said. "It might be that Mrs. Clinton will have to put on a big-time charm offensive to win these guys over. It'll be a very hard sell."

Some Republicans disagreed.

"There is a collegiality that crosses party lines on legislative matters," said Sen. Arlen Specter, a Republican from Pennsylvania. "Senators' votes are as scarce as hens' teeth, so they will be looking to her for her support on issues."

Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle predicted she would be "a very effective member of the caucus. She knows the Senate and knows the people."

It will fall to Daschle to determine which committees Clinton serves on. She has expressed interest in serving on the Appropriations, Foreign Relations and Finance committees - all coveted spots. The first lady has raised millions for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and could be rewarded with a key assignment.

Clinton said she understands there are things she needed to learn.

"It's like any new job - you've got to find your footing," she said. "You have to be willing to work hard to learn the ropes and the rules, build relationships with people, all of which I intend to do," she said.