First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton has wrapped up a campaign-style tour of New York, where she is expected to make an unprecedented bid for the U.S. Senate. She spent the last day of her trip immersed in upstate issues from dairy prices to building demolition.
Mrs. Clinton, who would be the first president's wife to seek public office if she opts to run for the Senate seat opening next year, met with business owners, farmers and developers Friday at a former U.S. Air Force base being developed for private industry.
Residents in the forum, part of Mrs. Clinton's so-called "listening Tour," peppered the potential candidate with their concerns, describing issues of high electricity costs, the need for job creation, the decline of manufacturing and upstate air transportation woes.
The first lady told a dairy farmer she supported the milk-price compact proposal before Congress, an issue upstate farmers endorse but some consumer advocates fear will lead to higher milk prices.
She listened as a developer spoke of trying to build an industrial facility in Utica, N.Y., and the costs of tearing down decrepit and abandoned buildings to lure business.
"It doesn't look like we're on the cutting edge of anything," the developer, Eugene Romano, told her. "It's a depressing sight."
The three-day swing through upstate New York, which began Wednesday with an appearance with retiring Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, followed Mrs. Clinton's formal establishment of an exploratory committee allowing her to raise campaign funds.
Mrs. Clinton has said repeatedly the purpose of this trip, and several more she plans in coming months, was to listen to and learn about the issues and interests of New Yorkers as she decides whether to run.
Republicans have made much of the fact that Clinton has never lived or worked in New York, and the trips were designed to address the issue of carpetbagging, a term named after the opportunists who moved to the American South after the Civil War.
In an effort to underscore the first lady's lack of roots in New York, the likely Republican candidate, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, was planning a fund-raising trip to Arkansas, where Mrs. Clinton has lived much of her life.
Aides said privately and local Democracts said publicly the first lady's foray into New York politics has been a success.
"I think it's going exceedingly well," said Judith Hope, head of the state Democratic Party who has been a key figure in the drive to encourage Clinton to run.
The first lady is scheduled to come back to New York, visiting the New York City suburbs of Westchester County and Long Island, early next week.