D'Amato looking at New York Senate race
Gov. Whitman 'seriously' considering New Jersey Senate bid
February 21, 1999
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, February 21) -- The already electric 2000 New York Senate race took another unexpected twist Sunday, with former Republican Sen. Al D'Amato saying he, too, is considering jumping into a field that may include first lady Hillary Clinton and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
"It's certainly a very tempting thing when one looks at it," D'Amato said on "Fox News Sunday." "The opportunity to think about taking on that kind of race is something I think that those of us who have enjoyed politics and political life kind of salivate over."
Also on Sunday, popular New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman said she is "seriously" considering a run for a Senate seat made available by Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg's announcement last week that he wouldn't seek another term. A final decision will be made within the next two months, she said.
"I'm going to make a decision in the not-too-distant future because I don't think it's fair to string people out," she said on NBC's "Meet The Press."
D'Amato was defeated in November by Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat given considerable assistance by the first lady during the campaign. D'Amato had been a strong critic of the Clintons, leading a congressional investigation into their failed Whitewater real estate venture.
But D'Amato said Sunday that he thinks it would be a mistake for Republicans to dredge up past Clinton scandals should the first lady join the race.
"The media's going to go into that, and there's no need for whoever the candidate (is) going to be to go after her on that," he said.
The New York seat is being vacated by Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. As Clinton and Giuliani both weigh the race, Rep. Nita Lowey, who represents suburban Westchester County in the House, says she will seek the Democratic nomination if Clinton doesn't run.
"I respect her process, and Mrs. Clinton is going to have to take the time she needs," Lowey said on "Fox News Sunday." "In the meantime, I'm doing what I have to do to prepare."
D'Amato said Sunday that two Republican congressmen, Jack Quinn of Buffalo and Rick Lazio of Long Island, are also both looking at the race.
In an interview on ABC's "This Week," Giuliani said he would "absolutely" welcome a match-up against Clinton, and he said he was not discouraged by a recent Time/CNN poll of New York voters that had him nine points behind the first lady.
"If anything, it challenges you even more," he said.
Giuliani said he would not bring up President Bill Clinton's recent impeachment -- which he opposed -- during a Senate campaign, saying "there are lots of issues to discuss that are a lot more important to the voters at this point."
But the New York mayor did take a dig at the first lady for her statement last year that she supported the creation of a Palestinian state -- a position disavowed even by her husband's White House and which may not go down well with some in New York's sizable Jewish electorate.
"This is an interesting situation. I'm in the same position as the White House, and Mrs. Clinton is out there much more heavily favoring the Palestinians," he said.
The Senate GOP campaign chairman, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky,) gave a taste Sunday of how the Republicans might go after the first lady should she make the Senate race.
"I think the issues will be the creation of a Palestinian state, advocating letting children sue their parents, advocating socialized medicine -- all the positions that the first lady has taken over the years," McConnell said on "Meet The Press."
"When the first lady becomes a candidate, she is like all the rest of us. She has to answer all the questions the New York media would ask, as well as a tough, qualified opponent as Mayor Giuliani, who has quite a record himself," he said.
The announced retirements of Moynihan, Lautenberg and Sen. Richard Bryan (D-Nevada) have left Democrats scrambling to find strong candidates and have buoyed Republican hopes of retaining control of the Senate in 2000. The GOP now has a 55-45 majority.
"(Democrats') chances of regaining the Senate have faded dramatically," McConnell said on "Meet The Press." "And our goal of continuing to control the Senate for four Congresses in a row for the first time since the 1920s has been dramatically enhanced."
But Sen. Robert Torricelli, the Democratic Senate campaign chairman, said candidates from his party will use GOP senators' votes from Clinton's impeachment trial as an issue.
"Ten of those Republican incumbents, all of whom voted for the impeachment of President Clinton, are from states that Bill Clinton carried," Torricelli said on "Meet The Press."
In Nevada, Democratic Gov. Bob Miller is being mentioned as a candidate for Bryan's seat, as is former Republican Rep. John Ensign, who narrowly lost a Senate bid in 1998.
In New Jersey, Whitman would have to leave the governorship a year early should she be elected to the Senate in 2000. She is barred from seeking a third term as governor in 2001.
Whitman said Sunday that her decision to run for the Senate will depend on whether she can complete work on her three top priorities -- property tax relief, school reform and land preservation -- on an accelerated time schedule.
"If I think I can do that in a year and a half, rather than the two and a half years I have left, I'll seriously consider it," she said on "Meet The Press."
Sunday, February 21, 1999
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GOP governors rally toward one of their own -- George W. Bush
Barbara Walters interviews Lewinsky, with Starr's OK