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Hillary Clinton blasts Giuliani fundraising letter

February 9, 2000
Web posted at: 12:38 p.m. EST (1738 GMT)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (CNN) -- On day three of Hillary Rodham Clinton's historic U.S. Senate campaign, the first lady blasted Rudolph Giuliani over a Senate fund raising letter put out by the New York mayor.

The eight-page letter from Mrs. Clinton's expected Republican rival refers to the first lady as having "hostility toward America's religious traditions." The letter suggests that she favors government programs over faith-based charities to solve social problems.

"It is outrageous that the mayor has injected religion into this race," Mrs. Clinton said. "As a person of faith, I am appalled that he would make false statements about me and my religion in order to raise money for his campaign."

Mrs. Clinton, who is Methodist, thinks that faith-based institutions can play a role in delivering social services, as long as they do so in a "constitutionally permissible" way, according to her spokesman, Howard Wolfson.

"I am appalled at his false statements about me and my respect for religion," she said.

Giuliani's letter is a fundraising appeal that paints Mrs. Clinton as a member of "the left-wing elite," and their respecitve campaigns as "a battle between two very different visions for America's future."

As an example, the letter cites the mayor's recent attempt to withdraw taxpayer funds for the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Its recent "Sensation" exhibit included a painting which, in Giuliani's opinion, desecrated the image of the Virgin Mary.

"In the minds of left-wing activists like Hillary Clinton, I guess it is okay to use taxpayer funds to subsidize religious expression ... so long as it involves the desecration of religious symbols."

In August, Mrs. Clinton objected to any withdrawal of public funding for the museum.

"It is not appropriate to penalize and punish an institution such as the Brooklyn Museum that has served this community with distinction over many years, and that employs more than 500 people and that had more than 500,000 visitors last year," she said at the time.

The first lady said she had just found out about the letter Wednesday morning. Asked if she wants Giuliani to apologize, she said, "They have to decide what he is going to do."

Mrs. Clinton, meanwhile, was spending Wednesday focusing on education.

In a noon speech on the campus of Syracuse University, she was expected to unveil ideas she would pursue in Washington should she win the November race.

Yesterday, Mrs. Clinton emphasized the issue she is most associated with -- health care. Both in a speech at a Rochester medical center and at a news conference, she reaffirmed her commitment to universal health insurance.

"I believe as strongly today as I ever have we can make progress in a step-by-step way toward providing quality, affordable health care," Mrs. Clinton told reporters outside a diner in Albion.

Later, speaking at the Kornberg Medical Center in Rochester, she received the endorsement of two nurse's associations, including the state's largest representing 33,000 nurses.

Her main new proposal was a plan to make prescription drugs more affordable. She said that as a senator she would introduce legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs by allowing pharmacists to re-import drugs from outside the U.S.

"Americans are paying more in retail costs than the rest of the world is paying in wholesale costs. I was always told that New Yorkers never bought retail. Well that's wrong when it comes to drugs and it must stop," she said.

Mrs. Clinton said she has always believed health care is a fundamental right, and although her plan for national insurance in 1993-94 never caught on, she said, "I didn't give up then and I won't give up now."

While Mrs. Clinton appeared in Rochester in person, Rudy Giuliani, appeared on the radio.

When asked by WHAM/Radio about Mrs. Clinton's record, Giuliani said:

"It's essentially just promises of what she might do since she's never had a government position before or an elected position before. In my case, it's not just a promise of what I'm going to do. It's a record of actually having done these things."

Giuliani told listeners he had created jobs and lowered taxes in the city would attempt, as senator, to do the same for the rest of the state.

Asked specifically about these jibes, Mrs. Clinton told reporters:

"I think the voters will have a chance to judge our respective records. And I know in my 30 years of public service what I have concentrated on -- improving education, helping to strengthen families, trying to extend health care, working on ways to bring jobs to people who don't have them -- seems to be the kinds of concerns on the minds of New Yorkers."

Giuliani will follow her footsteps upstate on Thursday and Friday with a campaign trip to Buffalo, where Mrs. Clinton began her week.



If you need to know who's up in 1999 or 2000 and what seats are open launch this quick guide.

Who are your elected officials? What is the past presidential vote and number of electoral votes in your state? Find out with these state political and election facts.

Check out the latest numbers or dig back into the poll archives.



Wednesday, February 9, 2000


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