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Hillary Totally Backs John Kerry

After much ado about the actual role she would have during the Democratic National Convention, the former first lady and current junior senator from New York, Hillary Clinton, was invited introduce her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

She takes the stage Monday night in Boston. Monday morning, she told The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm what she thinks about the presidential hopeful.

She said, "It's an interesting position to be in, to introduce the last Democratic president and the future Democratic president. But I think that this convention is going to really provide Americans with some insight and understanding about John Kerry and John Edwards, which will tip the balance. I mean, we're going to win, and I just want them to win with as big a margin as possible so they'll have a lot of opportunity to get our country on the right track."

Should Kerry win and be nominated for a second term in 2008, any chance of Clinton making her own run for the White House would be put off until at least 2012. She would be 65 and a whole new crop of presidential wannabes could be on the scene.

Asked how she sets her own presidential ambitions aside and get fully behind the Kerry-Edwards team, she said, "It's very easy for me, because everyone who knows me knows that I am appalled at the Bush-Cheney administration and the direction they've taken our country and I cannot imagine four more years of their leadership, which I think would put us in a big hole domestically and around the world."

The former first lady points out not only she has worked with John Kerry in the Senate, but also knew him before that.

"I just want Americans who haven't made up their minds to know him as I know him," she said, "To know that he's a serious, thoughtful, effective leader, who is going to be a great president for our country."

And if she doesn't get the opportunity to run for president, Sen. Clinton says she would still be at peace.

"I'm having a great time being the senator from New York," she said, "I know a lot of people speculate about my life, but I try to get up every day and lead it. That's hard enough."

As for the kind of advice she could give to Teresa Heinz Kerry, who Sunday night told a reporter to "shove off," Sen. Clinton says, "She doesn't need my advice. She's doing a great job. Everybody gets frustrated with the press, with all due respect."

She doesn't think Heinz Kerry's comments will not hurt her. "As people have gotten to know her, they see a strong, outspoken, caring, very loving person who really is supporting John, but also, wants to do what she can to change the direction of the country. And I think people understand that."

Considering change in the state she represents, the junior senator said last week that the president had dithered in providing the funds needed for the city of New York and she stressed on The Early Show that the 9/11 Commission validated her position by recommending more funds to those areas at the highest risk.

"We have no national strategy and certainly haven't done enough to get money to the high risk areas like New York City," Sen. Clinton said. "You look at any intelligence report, New York City's at the top of the list of being a potential target. And the city, with the police and the firefighters, has done a fabulous job, but they've been short-changed."

She is looking to President Bush to make sure the money is distributed differently.

"Obviously, it's a congressional decision," she said, "But the president's party controls both houses of Congress. If he were to choose, he could say, 'This is what I want done for America.' He's going to New York City for his convention. I'd like to see a strong statement that we're going to change this formula. I expect the leaders of the Senate and the House to really do what I think is best for the country, to have a national strategy with more money and have it allocate the differently."

As for Congress' top priority in terms of enacting changes, she said, there is much to be done.

Sen. Clinton explained, "The Senate will start holding hearings this coming month. It's not only what the executive branch needs to do to organize intelligence, but what the Congress needs to do to provide better oversight. That may be the harder part for Congress, because people who have been there a long time, had a lot of power, have to be willing to seize some of it so we have a better system that can keep us safe."

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