Associated Press
May 16, 2000

Democrats Nominate Clinton for Senate

By Marc Humbert

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- With thousands of supporters cheering in a packed sports arena, Hillary Rodham Clinton was nominated for the Senate on Tuesday at the Democratic Party convention in her adopted state.

The nomination by the 352 delegates of the only first lady to run for public office was unanimous.

''Make no mistake, this election is not about me or my Republican opponent,'' Clinton said in a 38-minute address that ended with the triumphant theme from the movie ''Chariots of Fire.'' ''It's about the people of New York and our common mission.''

The first lady said the mission was to improve the lives of New York's

ch and the poor,'' she said.

Still uncertain was whether Clinton would face Republican Rudolph Giuliani, the New York City mayor whose candidacy was expected to make the Senate race a clash of political titans. Three weeks ago, the mayor announced he had prostate cancer and said he was uncertain if he could continue in the race.

The Republican state convention in Buffalo is on May 30.

Shaking hands with supporters, signing autographs and posing for photographs with admirers at the arena in downtown Albany before the convention began, the first lady predicted she would be ''victorious in November'' and told reporters that ''I see the attention as a wonderful indication of how everybody's going to pull together.''

In a last-minute addition to the festivities, President Clinton changed his schedule Tuesday in order to join the crowd of about 10,000 people at the convention.

''I just decided I ought to be there,'' Clinton said before leaving Washington. ''It's a big deal for her, a big night for her and I want to be there with her. I just want to be there to support her.''

The president did not address the convention, but did plan to make remarks late Tuesday night at a hotel reception hosted by top New York Democrats.

The first lady lavished praise on her husband during her convention speech, a tribute that had the thousands in the arena on their feet and cheering. He mouthed a silent ''thank you'' to his wife as he bowed his head.

Three weeks ago, Giuliani stunned New York with the announcement that he had been diagnosed with cancer and might have to quit the race. Things turned even more topsy-turvy when the married mayor subsequently confirmed he was seeing ''a very good friend,'' Judith Nathan, and then announced he and his wife of 16 years, Donna Hanover, were discussing a formal separation.

Giuliani told supporters at a fund-raiser Monday night that he was ''very much inclined'' to stay in the race, but still had to determine his course of medical treatment before he could decide on the Senate contest.

Democrats tried to keep the focus on their convention and on the first lady. There was no mention of Giuliani in the speeches.

The delegates didn't seem to care, cheering lustily for speaker after speaker.

''This is the kind of excitement we haven't seen since Bobby Kennedy,'' state Democratic Chairwoman Judith Hope said on the eve of the convention.

Clinton is seeking the Senate seat from New York once held by Kennedy and later by the man she hopes to replace in the Senate, fellow Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Moynihan is retiring after 24 years in the Senate.

Several little-known New York Democrats have expressed an interest in this year's nomination, but to force a Sept. 12 primary they would have to collect the signatures of 15,000 New York Democrats between June 6 and July 13.

The mayor's camp was jubilant Tuesday over a poll from the Quinnipiac College Polling Institute showing that despite Giuliani's medical and marital problems, he remains deadlocked with Clinton among New York voters. She was favored by 44 percent to 43 percent for the mayor. That is statistically unchanged from a May 1 Quinnipiac poll.

''This is a reaffirmation of the strength of the mayor's candidacy and evidence that performance and record are what New Yorkers care about,'' Giuliani campaign spokeswoman Juleanna Glover Weiss said.

While Clinton has faced charges from Giuliani of being a carpetbagger -- she only moved to New York in January -- and not having a record in elective office, Republicans face a New York electorate in which Democrats outnumber Republicans by an almost 5-3 margin.

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