Hillary Clinton Talks Jobs
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (AP) _ Hillary Rodham Clinton, eyeing the New York Senate race, told factory workers Wednesday that the nation has been successful ``because of people who have been willing to try new things.″
``There are too many people blocked into old thinking ... We are all such prisoners of our past,″ the first lady said.
During a nearly one-hour question and answer session with about 40 Lockheed Martin Corp. employees, the subject of Mrs. Clinton’s possible Senate candidacy never came up. At the end of her visit to the plant, one company nurse urged Mrs. Clinton to keep working to improve the nation’s health care system.
``I intend to,″ the first lady responded.
It was Mrs. Clinton’s first visit to New York since announcing Friday that she would form an exploratory committee to continue preparations for the Senate race her advisers expect her to enter.
The race could pit Mrs. Clinton against Republican New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who formed an exploratory committee in April. Also eyeing the GOP nomination is Rep. Rick Lazio of Long Island.
Mrs. Clinton also planned to help fellow Democrats raise funds during her trip to New York. Per-person ticket prices for a Binghamton fund-raiser for Rep. Maurice Hinchey ranged from $125 to $500. The larger amount guaranteed a personal visit with the first lady.
Also on Mrs. Clinton’s schedule was a $5,000-a-person dinner organized by financial writer Andrew Tobias at a private home in New York City. The event, aimed at gay and lesbian campaign contributors, was expected to raise at least $200,000 for the Democratic National Committee.
Mrs. Clinton’s spokeswoman, Marsha Berry, said taxpayers would pick up part of the trip’s tab _ for the Lockheed Martin discussion on the economy _ while Hinchey’s campaign committee and the DNC would pay the rest. She did not have a breakdown of the costs.
The taxpayer financing for portions of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign-like trips has already led to criticism. Advisers have said funds raised by the exploratory committee may be used to cover such future expenses.
Some local Democrats were clearly excited by Mrs. Clinton’s decision to visit the Binghamton area as part of her attempt to get a better handle on New York issues.
``I’m thrilled. This is wonderful,″ said Barbara Paoletti, Broome County’s Democratic Party chairwoman.
Some Republicans thought it was all hoopla for nothing.
``I’m probably the only one who still thinks she’s not running,″ state Sen. Thomas Libous, a county GOP leader. He theorized that Mrs. Clinton was toying with the Senate race ``to take attention off the president and the war″ in Kosovo.
Former state Democratic Chairman John Burns, a one-time mayor of Binghamton, said he believes Mrs. Clinton is in the race and will run well in the region. In Broome County, Republicans have a slight enrollment edge over Democrats.
``I think she’s got a big women’s vote around here,″ Burns said. ``I find that the men, Republican men and some Democrats and independents, might be a little standoffish about her. But I think she’ll more than make up with women what she’ll lose to the men.″
Nonetheless, Burns said the carpetbagger issue being raised by Giuliani and Lazio is something she has to overcome. The former state party leader said that on a visit earlier in the week to his wife’s doctor, the talk quickly turned to the first lady.
``He said, `The only thing I don’t like about her is what does she know about New York?′ It was the first thing out of his mouth,″ Burns said.
``It’s an issue, but I think she can handle it,″ he added.