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Hill Hits The Ground Smiling

Sunday was a lovefest. The slugfest is to come.

Hillary Rodham Clinton officially entered the realm of the candidate on Sunday, telling a mobbed college gymnasium that she will seek the office of U.S. Senate from New York. Two thousand supporters and Democratic Party chiefs from the Empire State cheered the first lady and wished her well.

"I want this to be a people's campaign, a grassroots campaign," she told the audience in a thirty-minute speech. "I know it's not always going to be an easy campaign, but hey, this is New York."

launch videoHillary's campaign stop in Buffalo, N.Y., Monday.
Mrs. Clinton faced head-on the question of why she is running for Senate seat from New York.

"Here's my answer," she told the audience. "I may be new to the neighborhood, but I'm not new to your concerns."

Mrs. Clinton made the announcement at the State University of New York in Purchase. The school is located in Westchester County, not far from her new home in Chappaqua. Westchester and the other vote-rich suburbs outside New York City will be a major election battleground for Mrs. Clinton and her likely Republican opponent, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Giuliani wasted no time in firing several shots across Mrs. Clinton's bow with a round of appearances on the Sunday morning talks shows.

"I've already done things for New York with 20 years of public service," Giuliani said on CBS News' Face The Nation Sunday. "I've taken a city that was considered to be the most ungovernable in the country and turned it into one of the best large cities in the country."

Judging by the level of rancor that has already pervaded the campaign, Mrs. Clinton, who was joined on stage by the president and their daughter Chelsea and her mother Dorothy, may want to hold the event in her memory as she hits the campaign trail.
Salon.comHillary Makes It Official
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"This is Hillary's day," said research doctor Caroline Hoth, a Bronxville, N.Y. woman who runs a Web site called Remember Africa.Com. "Hillary is the kind of person who can bring people of all kinds together. I don't think Mr. Giuilani can do that."

Democratic Party chiefs from across New York State, thick in the audience, were echoing this message.

"We've done a lot of thinking about Hillary," said Ryetown, N.Y. Democratic Party chairwoman Joni Meiskin. "She's the kind of person who can work with people in the Senate. Mayor Giuliani is a loose cannon. He has done a great job in New York City, nobody can take that away from him. But I think she'll be a good senator."
The first lady's speech, which drew thunderous applause on several occasions, focused on policy issues such as health care, education, the environment, abortion rights, and a secure Israel.

Recalling a speech she made at her college commencement at Wellesley in 1969, the first lady said: "I often return to one thing I said back then: That politics is the art of making possible what appears to be impossible. I still believe that today. We can do what seems impossible if we have the vision the passion and the will to do it together."

In the media trenches around the perimeter of the gym floor where hundreds of reporters sought news in a scripted atmosphere, Hillary's campaign signaled Sunday that it was preparing to take off the gloves in its quest for success.

Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson told, "It's true, she doesn't have the same record he (Giuliani) does. She has not arrested homeless people. She did not cut the education budget. That's his record -- he can run on it."

© 2000 CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report

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