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Can Hillary Clinton Beat Rudy Giuliani and Make It to the U.S. Senate?

Aired February 7, 2000 - 7:30 p.m. ET



HILLARY CLINTON (D), SENATE CANDIDATE: Now I know it's not always going to be an easy campaign. But hey, this is New York.


BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: Tonight, Hillary makes it official. But can she beat Rudy Giuliani and make it all the way to the U.S. Senate?

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, CROSSFIRE. On the left, Bill Press; on the right, Mary Matalin. In the crossfire, in New York, New York City public advocate Mark Green, a supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Republican Congressman Vito Fossella, a Rudy Giuliani supporter.

PRESS: Good evening. Welcome to CROSSFIRE.

Well, now it's official. She's in. No more listening tour, no more "maybes." First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is now candidate Hillary Clinton for U.S. senator from New York State.


H. CLINTON: Because I believe we can meet these challenges together, I am honored today to announce my candidacy for the United States Senate from New York.



PRESS: And in another one for the history books, President Clinton sat on the stage and never said one word. Just a few minutes ago on "MONEYLINE," he explained why.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was so proud of her. I loved her speech. And I -- what she said and what she's running on.

If I can help her, of course, I will. But my instinct is that the people of New York want to hear from her directly.


PRESS: But Hillary did have to share yesterday's spotlight with New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who pulled a Bill Ginsburg, appeared on all the Sunday morning talk shows, and for the first time said he's running too.


MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK: I'm going to run for the Senate. Hopefully, I'm going to win. And I'm going to serve there.


PRESS: Match-up today, Giuliani up by three points, a statistical tie.

Candidate Clinton shuffled off to Buffalo today promising to bring more jobs to that region while Republican Party officials accused her of spending $900,000 of federal funds on campaign trips and only reimbursing the government for $34,000. And that is just day one of this campaign.

So tonight, will New Yorkers embrace Hillary Clinton as a new- found friend or reject her as a pushy outsider? -- Mary.

MARY MATALIN, CO-HOST: Mr. Green, let's start with the mayor that you would replace were he to be elected, because by your laws in New York City you automatically from your position ascend to the mayoral seat. So, that means you've been paying attention to the record of Rudy Giuliani, which is pretty astounding.

The FBI has designated New York City as the safest large city in America. That's his record on crime.

On the economy, he's given over a $2 billion tax cut. He turned a $2 billion deficit into a $2 billion surplus.

On jobs, he has had the greatest job increase in the history of the city.

MARK GREEN, NEW YORK PUBLIC ADVOCATE: What's the question, Mary?

MATALIN: Let me go through the record.

Finally, 450 people have gone from...

GREEN: I'm here 25 minutes.

MATALIN: ... dependence to dignity. You have got to follow this record because you're ascending to the seat, is my point there, a record with which you've agreed.

And I'm saying, having lived there, that New Yorkers are practical. And isn't his practical record better than her vision? GREEN: The mayor has some accomplishments. Crime is down. It's down more actually in Boston and San Diego. Welfare rolls have been cut, on average actually less than major cities around the country.

Our unemployment is down, although unemployment is slightly higher in New York than in other urban areas.

Now, the mayor does have a record. He's also tried to shut a great museum because he didn't like a work of art. He's been racially divisive in our city. He slashed billions of dollars for school construction. He has been an apologist for police misconduct when it's occurred. And he's run a government by enemies list he'll sue you or arrest you.

So, that's part of his record also.

Now, Hillary Clinton is different. Obviously, she hasn't run for or held elective office. So people don't quite know what she would do on her own.

But for 30 years, people who know her or don't like her or love her agree she's brilliant, tough, focused. Before she married Bill Clinton, she was a star. She's star now.

I think she'll do real well because her values and issues on more -- universal health care coverage for children, on class...

MATALIN: OK, Mark...

GREEN: ... size reduction -- I'm almost done...

MATALIN: You're giving the whole brochure.

GREEN: ... are much more consistent with New Yorkers than Rudy Giuliani.

My answer was as long as your question. We're even.

MATALIN: No, no, no. It was much longer. And let me go to the issue again. How practical are New Yorkers?

I've lived there. They are very practical. They've looked at Rudy's record. They've looked at all the spew that you've just done.

And they say, who understands issues and problems for New York state? Giuliani, 73; Clinton, 43. That's a 31-point spread. New Yorkers are practical.

GREEN: Two points. First, if you ask who's closer on the issues to the values of New Yorkers, Hillary or Rudy, that same poll shows that Hillary's identification on health care and education are much closer to voters than Rudy. Second, in New York City, the people who know Mayor Giuliani the best, he has plummeted a third in two years. He used to have a 60 percent favorable. Now it's down to 40 percent.

In New York City, the people who know him best, Hillary Clinton is winning about two to one. There you go.

PRESS: Congressman Fossella, this politics in NEW YORK -- and I don't pretend to know it well -- but it's more complicated than in other state because you not only have Democrats and Republicans, you've got conservatives, the party, and you've got the Liberal Party.

Today, the chairman of the Conservative Party, Michael Long, said that Rudy Giuliani should not run for the United States Senate. Isn't that sort of a fatal blow to Rudy's chances?

REP. VITO FOSSELLA (R), NEW YORK: Well, before I say anything, with all due respect to Mark, who I have known for several years, I suspect that both of us are going to vote for Rudy Giuliani for Senate, and I don't blame him. He may not admit it, but I don't blame him because he automatically becomes mayor if the senator -- if the mayor becomes senator, which I believe he will.

And you know, just to counter respectfully to what Mark Green said about...

PRESS: Well, whoa, whoa, whoa. Can I get an answer to my question?

FOSSELLA: Yes, you can as soon as I counter and sort of clarify what's happened. If you ask the ordinary New Yorker if they feel better about this city than they did seven years ago, yes, that's the case. Crime is down dramatically, welfare rolls are down dramatically. More people are working. Taxes have been reduced.

PRESS: Congressman -- congressman...

FOSSELLA: So I think that's a record to be proud of and one that's going to...

PRESS: With all due respect, that's not the question. The question is, would you vote for him for United States senator? Michael Long again said today, head of the Conservative Party, he should not run for the Senate. You know yourself, congressman, that no Republican in New York in the last 25 years has won statewide office without the support of the Conservative Party.

So I ask you again, isn't that a fatal blow for Rudy Giuliani?

FOSSELLA: Well, it doesn't help. I would hope that the two of them and the party could work something out. I was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) aware of these things, revelations that I guess occurred today, as you suggest. But it's bigger than that.

I think this race for Senate is about delivering to the people and explaining to the people of New York who should be the senator. Education -- I happen to believe that Rudy Giuliani stands on the right side of the issue of education: for example, allowing districts in Staten Island and throughout New York City and throughout New York State to make the decisions with parents and teachers and administrators. I suspect -- and I would love to hear Mrs. Clinton's dialogue on this -- I suspect that she'd rather centralize the decision-making in Washington or by other bureaucrats. That's not the view of the parents that I represent, at least in Staten Island and Brooklyn.

PRESS: On the question of delivery -- and I think you're right; I think that will be probably the main issue in the campaign -- here's what again Michael Long had to say today about your candidate. Quote: "He's wrong on domestic partners. He's wrong on gays in the military. He's wrong on gay rights. He's wrong on rent control. He's right on vouchers" -- school vouchers -- "and he's a good strong administrator. But being a good administrator doesn't make you a good United States senator."

Isn't that the point, Congressman. He may be a good executive, lousy senator?

FOSSELLA: No, I don't agree with that at all. I think Rudy Giuliani would be an effective senator. He's demonstrated his ability in the last two terms. Again, ask the ordinary New Yorker if they feel safer. Ask the ordinary business person if they feel better about the climate of New York.

You know, we're just several blocks from Times Square here in New York. Several years ago people were afraid to walk through Times Square. Tourists, people around the country who may be watching this show, did not want to go to New York City. Now they're coming in droves, by the millions.

That is what the city is all about. That's what's happened in the last several years.

And really, in fairness, Rudy Giuliani deserves a lot of credit. And I think he'll bring those same skills, same things that he brought to city hall he'll bring to the United States Senate. And he'll be an effective legislator knowing the interests not only of the communities that I represent -- Staten Island and Brooklyn -- but he knows this city well. He knows this state.

And again, Mr. Green said earlier that his favorables may be low in the city. It's traditional that a Republican will not do well in New York City. You know, you're lucky if you get 30 or 40 percent of the vote in a statewide office. So, that's to be expected.

MATALIN: OK, Mark, we know a lot about Rudy. We know his record. And I'm confused, though, about what it is -- by who Hillary Clinton is.

Let's go to her speech yesterday, which is supposed to be a clarifying "Who is Hillary Clinton?" This is from her announcement speech, and maybe you can help me understand what she's saying.


H. CLINTON: I'm a new Democrat. I don't believe government is the source of all of our problems or the solution to them. But I do believe that when people live up to their responsibilities, we ought to live up to ours to help them build better lives.


MATALIN: OK. That sounds great. That's almost verbatim the language her president has used when he was "triangulating." But you mentioned earlier that she's for universal health care. That's not new Democrat. She was against welfare reform when her husband signed it after three attempts by the Republicans to get it signed.

She's not a new Democrat. Who is she? What is she?

GREEN: Well, she's for the death penalty. She is for welfare reform as the president finally signed it -- he didn't sign the first several versions, because of gratuitously and massively cut food stamps for the elderly and new arrivals. She is for things that Mayor Giuliani never even talks about.

We're all for moving people from work to workfare and then -- I'm sorry, from welfare to workfare and then work. But to do that you need adequate child care, so when will young children know that they're protected during the day? The mayor doesn't say a word about it. Hillary wants to do something about it.

She wants to -- on education they have a big difference -- he's for vouchers. She thinks it will bleed public education and ruin public education. He blames teachers first whenever there's a problem in education and he never says the word "class size," which all pedagogues now realize is the biggest variable to making sure our kids are educated for the new economy and new century.

She is where the public is on education and health care, and he's hardly done anything on education and health care. He's done a lot on crime, a lot on welfare. But the issues of 2000 and this decade are in health care and education, where Hillary laps him in terms of experience and ideas.

MATALIN: OK. OK. This is the man who would be mayor if Giuliani ascends to the Senate, which I am still contending he will, and we'll find out why when we come back on CROSSFIRE. Stay with us.


MATALIN: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

She's crisscrossed New York, but is anyone listening to her? Hillary's popularity has decreased as her availability has increased. With yesterday's formal announcement she hopes to relaunch her fledgling campaign. Can she? We'll ask two native New Yorkers, Hillary's supporter, the New York City public advocate Mark Green and Giuliani supporter Congressman Vito Fossella -- Bill.

PRESS: Congressman, the United States has withdrawn our ambassador from Austria because the new Austrian government includes members of the Freedom Party led by Joerg Haider, a man who is anti- immigration, a man who has praised Adolf Hitler, a man who has said that the Holocaust was not as bad as historians say. Last month Mr. Haider was in New York, Rudy Giuliani sat on the dais with him. Why would he hang out with so odious a character, why didn't he refuse to do so, Congressman?

FOSSELLA: Well, I am not sure if he even knew that the man was there. I support the president's effort...

PRESS: Yes, he admits he knew.

FOSSELLA: And I think he's...

PRESS: He admits he knew he was there, Congressman.

FOSSELLA: And I think since then, like a lot of misstatements by Mrs. Clinton, I think he's repaired that -- what happened. This man has made a lot of anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant remarks and I support the president's position.

See, what's unique about this race, because it doesn't excuse Mrs. Clinton sharing a dais with other people who are demagogues and seek to divide this city, not Austria, but this city -- what's bigger than those little issues and important to the people of New York are things like tax cuts, a thing like improving education, strengthening our military. That's what we're going to expect from our senator when he goes or she goes to serve in the Senate, not these day-to-day news items as I think you're bringing up.

PRESS: Yes, but, Congressman, the mayor admits he knew who the guy was, he was sitting on the dais with them. And just about a month ago, or maybe a couple of months ago all the Republicans in New York were jumping on Hillary Clinton because she shared the dais with Mrs. Arafat in Palestine when Mrs. Arafat said some inappropriate things. So how can you attack her for that when you're defending the mayor for sharing the dais with this anti-Semitic Austrian leader?

FOSSELLA: I think -- I don't know exactly what went on and how the mayor -- you know, that one dinner, I was not there. I don't know. And as I say, I think the mayor has explained what he did on that day.

But at the same time, I think -- what I'm saying to you and I think the people who are citizens of New York State what they want to hear from their candidates for Senate are not these day-to-day items. They want to know who -- what is the senator going to do on education, what is the senator going to do on their heavy tax burden, what is the senator do to strengthening our military that has been depleted over the last several years. That's what the honest to goodness law- abiding citizen taxpayer of New York is going to ask of the Senate, and those are the issues that are going to shape this election, nothing else.

PRESS: Well, the campaign starts today, Congressman.

MATALIN: OK. Mark, let me get off issues for just a nanosecond and get on a personal sense, the Clintons have brought so much of the personal to this White House. OK. I want to get to her video yesterday that was part of her announcement, but this is what Hillary Rodham Clinton had to say about herself in the '92 campaign. You'll remember this.


H. CLINTON: I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and made tea, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life.


MATALIN: OK. So, yesterday in her 18-minute soft and fuzzy biofilm she had this to say.


H. CLINTON: I make a mean tossed salad and a great omelet.


MATALIN: Well, have you ever known a candidate who brought so much attention to her culinary pursuits? What is the point of this? What is she trying to do, appeal to those white women that she's losing by 30 points, 20 points?

GREEN: The point is that she is tosses a better salad than she bakes cookies. That's a very principled distinction. Mary, what's going on is that Hillary Clinton is the first lady, and it's a regal post in a constitutional democracy.

And while she's famous, it -- ironically, she's unknown. Everybody focuses, understandably, on her husband who has run and won. She necessarily is supportive. And it's so historically unique. Now that she's coming out from under his understandable shadow, she wants to let people know what she stands for, and her issue orientation from Wellesley to today will overwhelm people.

She also wants to know -- people want to know what makes her tick. What I find in public life -- Vito, I am sure will agree with this -- is people want to know what you're really like as opposed to what we're like on CROSSFIRE.

And this is a warm, funny, wonderful woman. She's a mother. She's an advocate. And people don't know the personal side of her, especially when there's so much static and hateful rhetoric about her. She's trying to let people know what she's like and I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

MATALIN: So she's not the woman of 1992, the professional woman who didn't stay home and make cookies. Now she's tossing salads and making omelets. We're supposed to believe that she hangs out in the White House.


What I am getting to...

GREEN: Mary... MATALIN: ... isn't this just more phony baloney Clinton stuff?

GREEN: Mary, if anybody of we four understands how a woman can be publicly professional and cook and be a loving parent at home, it's you. And so why in the world are you saying it's either-or? Aren't you a professional and aren't you good at home?

PRESS: And she makes a great omelet! I tell you, she makes a great omelet. All right.

GREEN: Come on, Mary.

PRESS: Congressman Fossella, now that we're down to the serious issues, one of the issues that has been used against Mrs. Clinton from the time she said she might run in New York is of course the fact that she doesn't come from New York. The only person, Congressman, I think who has been on CROSSFIRE more often than you lately is your good buddy Congressman Charles Rangel, who was at the announcement yesterday and had this to say about that.


REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: When you need the best person for the job, you don't ask where they come from. You ask, are you available to serve?


PRESS: Charlie's got it right, doesn't he, Congressman? You're lucky to have her.

FOSSELLA: Oh, goodness gracious. No, I frankly think that while it's not a seminal issue, I still believe that a lot of New Yorkers are disenchanted with the fact that she is not a New Yorker. We live in a representative democracy, where someone like Rudy Giuliani, who has been here his whole life like myself, like Mark Green, who can stand up and know the issues that affect New Yorkers day in and day out.

So whether you like it or not, and whether people like it or not, this is an issue that resonates with some individuals. Is it the only issue? Absolutely not. And I still believe, having said that, that Giuliani is the stronger candidate. Now, I have to work as a member of Congress -- the next senator -- I reasonably believe...

PRESS: OK. Just -- almost...

FOSSELLA: ... that Rudy Giuliani knows the issues of my district better than Hillary Clinton.

PRESS: All right. Almost out of time. Almost out of time.

Mark, I see you wanting to jump in on the residency issue.

GREEN: Sure. Rudy Giuliani said that an out of candidate -- out of state candidate, if they're excellent, should come into our state and run. He said that in 1964 about Robert Kennedy. We are not a parochial state. May the best person win. It's not where you're from, but what you're for.

PRESS: All right. That's got to be the last word. May the best person win.

We'll have you back, talk about the campaign as it progresses. Mark Green and Congressman Vito Fossella, thanks for being there tonight on CROSSFIRE.

Mary Matalin and I will come back and either bake cookies or whip up an omelet, whatever. We'll call it closing comments.


PRESS: You know, Mary, with all due respect to the congressman, I don't think this race is going to be decided on the issues. They agree on a lot of issues, they agree on gay rights, they agree on choice, these two candidates. I think it's going to come down to personality. You have got a schoolyard bully versus a proven, effective politician. Hillary wins hands down.

MATALIN: I agree that it's going to get down to personality. That's why, like her husband, Slick Willie, Silly Hillary should not have done this fake omelets and tossed salad stuff. What's going on here is she's losing white women by 18 points to the big bad bully. You know why? Because they like his record. No candidate has won statewide in New York without that demographic, and you're not going to get white women by appealing to their culinary habits. It is insulting.

PRESS: You don't win votes by name calling either. The truth is they have got the most effective first lady ever, and they're going to have a most effective senator, and they have got a mayor who governs by enemies list, as Mark Green said.

MATALIN: The most effective first lady?

PRESS: No way he works in the United States Senate, no way.

MATALIN: One policy initiative and it brought down your whole party.

PRESS: From the left -- go Hillary -- I am Bill Press, good night for CROSSFIRE.

MATALIN: Go on, run Hillary run. We love it.

PRESS: She's running. She's going to win.

MATALIN: I'm Mary Matalin, from the right, join us again tomorrow night for another edition of CROSSFIRE.


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