Hillary Rodham Clinton's much-ballyhooed but still undecided consideration of a Senate candidacy has New York donors clamoring to get into her sold-out fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee.
Mrs. Clinton is scheduled to appear at Wednesday's $150-per-plate luncheon at The Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, and for the first time in its fund-raising history, the DNC is taking names - 300 of them - for a waiting list, said party spokeswoman Melissa Bonney Ratcliff.
Meantime, the queue of donors may well seem small beside the news media lining up to cover the first lady's two-day trip. "A mob scene" is how one White House press aide forecast it after fielding inquiries from everybody from the city's tabloids to German television to a Greek newspaper.
"Never before" has the DNC seen such a donor boom, Ratcliff said Monday.
"Because of absolutely unbelievable interest in this event, we've already expanded the room to fit 900 and still, we're turning people away," she said. "They're calling and asking to be put on a waiting list. We never do waiting lists."
The prospective guest tally stood at just 500 when the luncheon was scheduled three months ago, before prominent Democrats and New Yorkers began a "draft Mrs. Clinton" drive to see her replace retiring Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the state's 2000 Senate race.
Last week, Republicans announced their own drive to cash in on the buzz surrounding the first lady. The National Republican Senatorial Committee launched a nationwide telemarketing campaign using the sheer possibility of Mrs. Clinton's candidacy to stoke Republican donors.
Mrs. Clinton, while in New York on Wednesday, plans a morning speech on arts education at Intermediate School 25 in Queens, the DNC luncheon and a private dinner at the home of Wall Street tycoon Roger Altman, who was deputy treasury secretary during President Clinton's first term. On Thursday, she is to speak at the United Nations on the upcoming International Women's Day before visiting another city school to spotlight a new HBO documentary on women in sports.
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Mrs. Clinton's most likely Republican opponent in any 2000 Senate bid, was invited by the city school district to appear with Mrs. Clinton on Wednesday morning, but he will not be there. Instead, the mayor will be in Washington to testify to the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee on reinventing government, a spokeswoman said.
Written By Sandra Sobieraj, Associated Press Writer