August 7, 2000

Mrs. Clinton Attacks Presidential "Opponent," Bush

By Randall Mikkelsen

EDGARTOWN, MASS (REUTERS) -- First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton stepped up her criticism of Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush on Sunday, twinning her race for the U.S. Senate with the presidential campaign.

"We're going to have a very stark choice in this election between me and my opponent at the presidential level as to whether we continue the policies that have worked or we go a different direction," Clinton said at a reception to raise $150,000 for her campaign for a New York seat in the U.S. Senate.

Standing on a stage under a tent at a harborfront home, she attacked the Texas governor as a sympathizer with the National Rifle Association's opposition to gun control.

"Governor Bush's policies are basically against every gun safety measure and for concealed weapons in every setting, including church, and that is a very stark difference between us," she said.

The first lady also criticized Bush over his policies on the environment, health care and Social Security.

"These issues are not going to be listed on the ballot, but we're going to try in the next 90 or so days to make sure that when people vote, they know what they're really voting on," she said

President Clinton joined his wife, saying the senate and presidential races were both critical to ensuring economic growth and protecting against a Supreme Court that would threaten abortion rights.

"You should support Hillary Clinton and (Democratic presidential nominee) Al Gore and keep this economy going," he said to cheers from several hundred supporters, including actor Jim Belushi.

The president said it was important to have Gore in the White House making appointments to the Supreme Court but it was also crucial to have pro-choice senators during the confirmation process for Supreme Court judges.

Hillary Clinton said the issue of abortion "is clearly going to be at the heart of this election."


Her remarks appeared to represent a broadening of her political target beyond her campaign opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Lazio, and an escalation of her attacks on Bush.

Mrs. Clinton last week denounced the Republican convention as "photo-op politics" marked by "hollow rhetoric."

Bush and Lazio got together at a Conservative Party event in New York last month to mock her for changing her residence last year to make the New York run.

It was unclear whether Gore and the first lady would bring their campaigns closer together. Gore appeared at a joint fund-raiser with her in April, but a Gore campaign official said Sunday that he was not aware of any plans for Gore to campaign with her.

President Clinton said his wife's opponents were bent on sowing confusion and resentment against her for her residency change.

"The tenor of the campaign against her is basically 'Don't vote for her because she's not from here. ... Let me see if I can get you to resent her,"' he said. "If the voters in New York can get confused, that's the only way she can lose."

He urged supporters at the fund-raiser to spread the word and get more people to vote for his wife.

"When you leave here tonight, if you're from New York or if you know anybody from New York, the thing she most needs is for people like you to tell other people they know, 'I know this woman, she is a good person, she is a great public servant, and she ought to be the next senator,"' he said.

The Clintons were expected to raise $250,000 at a later, closed fund-raiser at the home of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

They are combining political fund raising with a minivacation on the resort island of Martha's Vineyard and are due to return to Washington on Monday.

Copyright Reuters World News Digest. All rights reserved.