New York Times
September 7, 2000

Robert Kennedy Jr. Endorses Hillary Clinton


Robert F. Kennedy Jr. endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate candidacy yesterday, declaring that she would show leadership on environmental concerns he champions and would overcome the "carpetbagger" tag that also threatened his father's bid for a Senate seat from New York in 1964.

Mr. Kennedy, an environmental lawyer in Westchester County who had considered running for the seat Mrs. Clinton is seeking, stood at her side at the 79th Street Boat Basin in Manhattan and delivered her second endorsement on environmental issues in two days. On Tuesday, she was endorsed by the Sierra Club.

Mr. Kennedy credited Mrs. Clinton with exerting influence on the Clinton administration to take steps to protect the lands around New York City's upstate drinking water supplies, a battle Mr. Kennedy has waged for several years. He said that during a "seminar" he conducted for Mrs. Clinton this year, she had demonstrated a strong interest in that problem and in such other issues as cleaning up chemical contamination from the Hudson River.

Mr. Kennedy acknowledged that Mrs. Clinton's opponent, Representative Rick A. Lazio, had agreed to write a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers urging further protection of the watershed, but he faulted him for not taking the initiative on protecting the environment.

Mr. Kennedy adopted the favored Clinton campaign tactic of linking Mr. Lazio to his former ally, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who Mr. Kennedy said was vehemently against the environment.

Speaking of Mr. Lazio, Mr. Kennedy said: "You can't point and Rick Lazio can't point to a single instance in which he has ever demonstrated environmental leadership on any environmental issue. He walked in lockstep with the Gingrich Congress."

Mr. Kennedy also addressed an assertion that Mr. Lazio has constantly repeated: that Mrs. Clinton is a "carpetbagger" who moved here in January only to establish residency for her Senate bid. The same charge was leveled against Robert F. Kennedy Sr., who moved from Massachusetts to New York City in 1964 for a Senate run that he won by a narrow margin.

Mr. Kennedy, who was 10 when his father ran, said: "The passions against my father were equal to or exceeded what I have seen. This is the question that was asked about my father: Is somebody who is not born in this state capable of putting in or offering leadership to this state? And my answer to that is resoundingly, yes, they are. New Yorkers come from everywhere. We have the most cosmopolitan community in North America and maybe one of the most cosmopolitan in the world."

Dan McLagan, a spokesman for Mr. Lazio, dismissed Mr. Kennedy's assertions as partisan rhetoric. He said the congressman had a solid environmental record that included supporting the cleanup of Long Island Sound and more closely regulating mining practices believed threatening to the environment.

"I think New Yorkers are more impressed by Rick Lazio's real record on the environment," Mr. McLagan said, "than by Mrs. Clinton's empty promises and partisan endorsements."

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