After months of “listening” and “leaks,” Hillary made it official this week to New Yorkers and America with the words: “I want to be your senator.” But she seemed to lose something along the way . . . her last name . . . “Clinton.” She was simply “Hillary” – like Prince, Madonna, and Cher – complete with the cheering crowds and video screens making her larger than life. As she embarks on this new challenge – to be the first First Lady elected to public office, and to be the first woman senator from New York – she seems to be embracing a new identity. Some insiders are worried that dropping her last name may be taking one step too far in the move to distance herself from The President. What a difference eight years makes – remember the flak Hillary endured when she added her maiden name to her moniker so that “Hillary Rodham Clinton” could forge a separate identity from The President?
While the crowd at Hillary’s official announcement was enthusiastic, we wonder whether it will translate into dollars. Campaign insiders say Hillary is about $2.5 million short of her goal thus far . . . and trailing her likely opponent, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, in both fundraising and polls. It seems those Upper West Side women, she thought she could count in, are holding out.
On Saturday night, the entire Clinton clan – Hillary, Bill, and Chelsea – spent a typical suburban night at their Chappaqua home, dropping by at a neighborhood birthday party. Among the crowd of sixty or so, the First Family mingled like natives, and stayed for more than two hours, working each room separately, and according to a fly on the wall, the Prez did his best to bring out a “wallflower” standing in the corner. Their realtor had arranged the invitation to the potluck supper. Although the Clintons didn’t bring a “dish” and didn’t eat – Secret Service rules prevent The President from eating untested food – they did ask to take some home (where it can be tested) since the cupboards were bare at their $1.7 million manse. Seems as though someone forgot to do the shopping . . . were they too busy campaigning or just unfamiliar with homeowner chores?
While Mrs. Clinton will be busy with her New York home, who will be watching over her DC digs, The White House? The first big test of the absentee First Lady will be Wednesday, February 23rd when the Clintons host a State Dinner for King Juan Carlos of Spain. Opponents to her New York Senate bid could use this distraction to their advantage, and of course all pundits will be observing so that they can comment on the virgin political ground that “Hillary” is treading.
One thing is for certain, if you are wrangling for a State Dinner invitation during President Clinton’s last year in office and you’re not an influential New Yorker, there are two fast tracks to obtaining one – donate to his Presidential Library Fund or her campaign, or better yet, try both.