New York Times
April 4, 2000


Mrs. Clinton Says Mayor Is Exploiting Cuban Boy


By WINNIE HU

ALBANY, NY -- In her strongest words on the issue so far, Hillary Rodham Clinton said today that Elián González belonged with his father, and she roundly criticized Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and others, saying they were exploiting the boy's misfortunes.

"I believe personally that this little boy should be with his father," she said at a news conference called by state Democratic officials to endorse legislation that would ratchet up penalties for hate crimes.

"I think that is how I would see his particular interest at this time," Mrs. Clinton said of the 6-year-old boy, "but I also believe that this is not a decision that politicians should be making."

In recent weeks, politicians from Mr. Giuliani to Vice President Al Gore have called for Congressional legislation that would grant permanent resident status to Elián and allow him to remain in the United States while a family court decides whether he should be returned to his father or be allowed to stay with relatives in Miami.

Not surprisingly, Mrs. Clinton made a point of singling out Mr. Giuliani for her harshest remarks.

"I regret that the mayor has tried to politicize this issue in this Senate campaign," Mrs. Clinton said. "I wish everybody would take a deep breath, and a step back, and let's try to get this child into a safe, permanent, loving, unexploited home and family as soon as possible."

When asked whether her criticism also applied to Mr. Gore, Mrs. Clinton said: "You know, the vice president and I are going to disagree from time to time. But on all of the big issues facing our country, we are in absolute agreement."

Mr. Giuliani's office did not respond to several messages seeking comment.

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