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Hillary Clinton rules out White House run in 2004

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton is the only first lady to be elected to office  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday she won't be making any moves to grab back the keys to the White House -- at least not for the next six years.

In an appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live," she repeated her pledge to serve her full six-year term as the new senator from New York.

Clinton -- elected to the Senate with a solid victory over Republican Rep. Rick Lazio -- has been mentioned repeatedly as a possible Democratic presidential contender in four years. That possibility had been touted as particularly strong should Republican George W. Bush win the disputed presidential election over Vice President Al Gore.

Promised voters full term

On Monday, however, Clinton definitively ruled out a run for the White House in 2004.

"Let's say Gore loses. That means the Democratic Party has no incumbent. Are you interested in that office in '04?" King asked Clinton in an interview taped at the White House.

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"No, I'm not," she replied.

"Not at all?"

"No. I am intent upon being the best senator that I can be. That is what I want to do," Clinton said.

Clinton said she had promised New York voters she would serve out the full six-year term and that she intended to keep that vow. That was "as definitive as I can get."

Confidence in electoral process 'critical'

Asked by King what she thought about the stalemate in the presidential election in Florida, Clinton endorsed Gore's view that all of the votes have not yet been counted.

"I think that from everything I've seen and heard, more people probably did intend to vote for Vice President Gore," she said. "And I would hope that there will still be an opportunity to have the votes counted, because I think that's best for whoever is inaugurated as president."

Citing a decades-old trend of declining voter turnout, Clinton said a resolution was needed that would restore confidence in the process.

"It's critical that people have confidence in our electoral process," she said. "I just don't think that we can afford to tell people that their vote won't be counted literally and absolutely."

Bush supporters have argued that all legally cast votes in the Florida election have been counted -- and that those discarded do not constitute legal votes.

No fast track for first lady

Clinton also repeated her belief that the Electoral College should be eliminated and that the presidential election be based strictly on the popular vote -- which Gore leads over Bush.

But she said she did not expect such a change, because it would involve a constitutional amendment.

"That's why I favor doing everything we can to make our electoral system as fair and accurate as possible," she said.

Clinton, the only first lady ever to achieve elected office, revealed that she will not receive any special treatment as a rookie senator. She will not jump to the head of the line for working space, and she faces a long wait before she moves into a prime office location in the Senate.

The waiting list is based on seniority, she said, and "I'm down towards the bottom of the line."

Reuters contributed to this report.


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Monday, December 11, 2000

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