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Hillary Fights Back

Hillary Clinton says she's in - just not quite yet officially.

CBS News anchor Dan Rather reports Clinton's supporters told her she needed to fight back and stop talk that in the end, she won't run for a U.S. Senate seat from New York.

Republicans supporting Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and some Democrats were thumping her with words such as "ineffective and blunder-prone."

The first lady chose a friendly forum of teachers in New York Tuesday to try to blunt the critics and questions. "The answer is yes - I intend to run," she told supporters, adding, "I will make a formal announcement after the first of the year."

Those who know her say "intend to run" doesn't mean she's leaving herself an out.


CBS
Lisa Caputo

"No, she is in," former press secretary Lisa Caputo told CBS News Early Show anchor Bryant Gumbel. "This is somebody who is ready to suit up for battle. She said the answer is yes."

It was the least she could do on her first New York trip after an official visit to the Mideast. While she was playing the role of first lady there, she came under attack for sitting quietly while Yasser Arafat's wife accused Israel of using poison gas on Palestinians.


CBS
Charles Cook

According to The Cook Report's editor Charles Cook, "They've had so many mishaps the last few weeks, that there was so much doubt out there she had to move and she had to move very decisively. She didn't have any choice."

"It was something she had to say and say now," agreed Caputo. "There were a lot of rumors out there. She needed to give a direct answer. She's in."

"If you were a $1,000 donor, would you give it if you had any doubt she was going to run?" Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf asked Gumbel. "Being coy, which maybe she needed to do for technical reasons, was starting to get in the way."


CBS
Rep. John Sweeney, R-N.Y.

Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.), a former executive director of the New York State Republican party, says Hillary Clinton can't win the Senate seat.

"I think she's vulnerable across the board," he told CBS News Early Show co-anchor Jane Clayson. "We've heard a lot of rhetoric out of the Clinton camp that relates to sort of a broad national agenda but nothing that really relates to New Yorkers. I don't think that will sell. It hasn't sold in the last year."

Sweeney says there are stark differences between Clinton and her likely rival.

"The first is that Rudy Giuliani is a duly elected official in New York, in New York City as the mayor, and certainly, therefore, a player in New York State," the Albany-area congressman said.

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"New Yorkers recognize he's dealt with issues germane to their everyday lives where Hillary Clinton has come in and presumed only she is a celebrity and therefore she is somehow qualified to represent them."

Sweeney says Clinton will have trouble separating her positions from the policies of the Clinton Administration.

"Hillary Clinton has got to come to my area and talk about policies that her husband's administration has promulgated that have been harmful to the economy of the region and killed local dairy farmers," Sweeney warned. "How is Hillary Clinton going to differentiate between those views, the views of her husband and the administration she pretends to represent at times and her own views as a potential candidate for the Senate? That's going to be a great challenge."

"What she needs to do is say, 'what reservations do people have about my husband and about his administration and his campaigns?' Steer clear of those thing, stick to the positive," advises Cook.


CBS
Hank Sheinkopf

"I think she's got to do what Vice President Gore has done, quit your day job, get into the campaign, focus full time," advises Sheinkopf. "Vice President Gore was hemorrhaging until he decided to just get rid of all the vice presidential duties. I think that's what she can do with her first lady job."

"Does she run with the president or from him?" Gumbel asked.

"She has to run with him and from him," responded Sheinkopf.

"She can't have it both ways."

"Yes, she can," insisted Sheinkopf. "The best thing is she's Hillary Clinton and the worst thing is that she's Hillary Clinton. Sometimes she'll be with him and sometimes not."


CBS
Carl Sferrazza Anthony

Carl Sferrazza Anthony expects conflicts between Clinton's role as the president's wife and her role as a Senate candidate.

"I think it will be a process that will unfold," he said on The Early Show. "Certainly, the conflict may come where she might have a difference of opinion with her husband's policy. But Betty Ford, Eleanor Roosevelt often said, 'this is my opinion and not necessarily my husband's.'"


CBS
Alan Lichtman

Alan Lichtman, chairman of the American University History Department, says the key will be if Clinton runs decisively.

"In the last year or so of the Clinton Administration, she can substantially diminish her role as first lady," the author of The Keys to the White House said. "She's got to be first and foremost candidate or she will be chewed apart by the monster that is New York City politics."

Sheinkopf expects a negative campaign.

"This will be a New York campaign and the gloves will come ot and people will be bloody before it's over and $40 million will be spent," warns Sheinkopf. Frankly, these are two very polarizing personalities."

Caputo admitted that she never imagined Hillary Clinton running for office herself.

"She, in many way, finds it as shocking as many people that here she is in this position of running for the Senate," Caputo said. "I think there was a groundswell for her to get in."

"There's an opportunity now and the people of New York asked her to get into this" contest, she added. "I think she is an addicted public servant, an advocate for women, children and families. I think that's why she is getting into the race."

Lichtman advises her to learn the art of politics from her husband.

"No matter what you might think of him, he has that extraordinary ability to look at people and make them understand that he can really identify them at a gut level and can see what matters to them," he said on The Early Show, adding that she hasn't learned how to do that yet.

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