• U.S.

In Case She Wants Some Free Advice…

6 minute read
Ratu Kamlani

GERALDINE FERRARO, former Congresswoman

As a Democrat, I would love it if Hillary were to run. Not only is she right on the issues, but if she runs, she wins–and generates such a large turnout that she helps Democrats in every race. And, yes, I would love to see a woman representing New York in the U.S. Senate! But should she? Is it in her best interest to take on a campaign at this time?

I have run for the Senate twice in New York–unsuccessfully, alas–and I can tell you that it is no walk in the park. The tabloids try to eat you alive every day. Much worse, they go after your family. The media and Hillary’s Republican opponent would surely attack her as a carpetbagger, revisit her commodities investments and Whitewater representation, distort her views on a Palestinian state and serve up snide analyses of her marriage. But I think she can successfully rebut them all. We have elected two men from out of state–a Connecticut Republican, James Buckley, and a Massachusetts Democrat, Bobby Kennedy–to represent us in the Senate. Hillary has spent more time in New York over the past seven years than either of them did in the years just before they ran. Mile for mile, event for event, cause for cause, she can’t be equaled.

So why should she even consider saying no? The polls, the wooing, the potential of the Senate as a springboard for national office–all are highly seductive. But there are other things to be considered. Hillary is now in the second most powerful position in the country. Can you imagine giving that up to be a junior member of the minority in the Senate? And she would have to give it up. The people of this state would expect her to focus on the issues of concern to New York. They’d want to see her in every county, and they would want to hear her views on health care, education and Social Security reform but also the cost of air fares upstate, PCBs in the Hudson River, the aquifers in Nassau County and on and on. And though she wouldn’t have to live in New York, she’d have to run a campaign in New York, which might be tough to do from the White House. Federal election rules are very specific about what a campaign can and cannot do. I believe she’d be stepping into a quagmire trying to sort out what expenses could be paid by the taxpayer, because they were incurred in her role as First Lady, and what expenses would be paid by her campaign. The right wing would deluge the Federal Election Commission and Justice Department with complaints in an effort to derail her.

Does she need this? I don’t think so. She’s young and can wait four years to have her Senate seat. In 2004, Republican Peter Fitzgerald will be up for re-election in Illinois, a state that really is Hillary’s home. By then, her book will have been written, her husband will be settled into a new job, Chelsea will be an adult, and the Senate will have a Democratic majority. Forget us politicos, Hillary. Do what’s best for you.

ED KOCH, former New York City mayor

Rudy Giuliani will run the vilest possible campaign. He has no scruples, and he’ll do anything to win. Nevertheless, Hillary has a spine made of steel and will overcome it. There’ll be no surprises for her in terms of the garbage that will be hurled at her by Giuliani and his supporters. She’ll beat Rudy Giuliani.

JIMMY BRESLIN, columnist

Is she going to bring her husband up here? She’s allowed to run; residency doesn’t matter. In New York everybody comes from someplace else. [But] I know I can’t vote for her. Anybody with a modicum of taste will not touch them. They brought us the worst scandal we’ve ever had, and now she wants to walk out of it and say she had nothing to do with it? She got on television here in New York and said it was a right-wing conspiracy–that was a bigger lie in its way than the one Clinton told on television. Come on. I really don’t care what she does. They’re over. They blew it.

DAVID GARTH, media consultant

The real problem is how she handles herself under direct personal pressure. She did an amazing job standing by her husband, but when the gun is pointed at her, it becomes a more difficult problem. Plus, Rudy Giuliani has a very substantial record. He may not be the guy you want to go to the dance with, but he certainly is the guy you want to see lead the band. One trap she has to watch out for: a lot of people are emotionally bent on being anti-Giuliani. If she gets sucked into that by the media, I think she will not do well. She has to really keep her cool. If she started to become the heavy and started to get nasty, it wouldn’t be appropriate.

MARIO CUOMO, former New York Governor

You’ve never had to face the scrutiny of a press corps that is among the most competent, the brightest, most experienced and meanest in American history. You have to avoid saying the wrong thing. She should start by reminding people that her strength has been her intelligence and commitment to issues. Her slogan should be no slogans. Except for my son Andrew–who is considerably taller than the First Lady–I can’t think of anybody who would make a better candidate than Hillary.

DICK MORRIS, former Clinton adviser I don’t think she has a shot in New York. In places such as Elmira and Plattsburgh, people are not going to be voting for a Senator from Arkansas. Second thing is that Giuliani, while at the moment slightly weakened, is a very strong candidate. All of the issues that Hillary could use to win are issues on which Giuliani basically agrees with her. Finally, nobody knows what is going to happen after she leaves office, in terms of any of the rumors that have been circulating concerning indictments. By 2004 in Illinois, all of that stuff will be out of the way, but now she can’t definitively say that, and Giuliani, a former prosecutor, will hammer it home.

SUSAN MOLINARI, former Congresswoman

Mrs. Clinton can go out a winner as First Lady, or she can run in a race where she will be treated like we all are, with all our warts exposed, where every question is asked. The mayor wins this race handily.

CALVIN BUTTS III, pastor, Abyssinian Baptist Church

Someone from New York would be better.

–Reported by Ratu Kamlani

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