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First lady to thank nation for experience of a lifetime

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to thank the American people in her speech Monday night for giving her family "the privilege of a lifetime" during their eight years at the White House.


In this story:

Speech to have three goals
Fund-raising draws criticism from opponent
Her own vision for the future

Mrs. Clinton, a candidate for the U.S. Senate in New York, has been allotted 10 minutes on the opening night of the Democratic National Convention to set up her husband's swan song address to the delegates, which will be the highlight of the evening.

She will follow a prime time segment featuring the Senate's six incumbent Democratic women.

Hillary
Hillary Clinton speaks at the New York delegation breakfast Monday morning  

"I will have a chance to thank the American people for the extraordinary eight years that my husband, my daughter and I have enjoyed. It's been an experience and a privilege of a lifetime," she said at the New York delegation breakfast.

As she prepared for the evening, her Senate Republican opponent in New York lambasted her for spending the last several days "raising tons of dollars ... from big fat cat donors out in Hollywood.

"She may have something in common with those people; I don't know," said Rep. Rick Lazio. "I'd rather have things in common with New Yorkers."

Speech to have three goals

Aides said the first lady's speech would cover three broad areas -- praising the Clinton administration's record, arguing for a Gore administration to carry on its work and linking her own Senate agenda to that of the national ticket.

"We've made so much progress in the last eight years. We are a stronger and better country than we were in 1992," Mrs. Clinton told the breakfast. "And I'm looking forward to doing everything I can to build on the progress and prosperity that we've enjoyed and take it even further," she said.

Mrs. Clinton also was visiting with the Hispanic, black, gay, and women's caucuses during the day and speaking at a lunch honoring Rep. Nita Lowey, a New York congresswoman who stepped aside from a possible Senate race out of respect for the first lady. She will then have a couple of hours for final preparation of her convention remarks.

"She's going be talking about the importance of electing Al Gore and Joe Lieberman to the White House to continue that great work, and she's going be talking about the fact that she wants to partner with Al Gore and Joe Lieberman next year when she's in the Senate," said campaign communications director Howard Wolfson.

Fund-raising draws criticism from opponent

Mrs. Clinton's and the president have made numerous appearances and raised at least $1 million for her Senate race in their four days in Los Angeles -- in stark contrast to the low profile Lazio assumed in his one day at the GOP convention in Philadelphia.

In New York, Lazio criticized his rival, saying she raised "millions of dollars in soft money on 'Planet Hollywood' this weekend. She should return to New York, reveal the special interest sources of all that money and then join me in banishing it from this race altogether."

He held a news conference in front of the Planet Hollywood restaurant to make his point.

In her speech, Clinton was expected to highlight her positions on gun control -- she supports the licensing and registration of guns -- and her abortion rights stand to draw a contrast with her opponent.

"Whether it's making college tuition tax deductible or adding prescription drugs into Medicare or any of these issues -- these meat-and-potato issues that affect average Americans -- Hillary's a lot closer to where New Yorkers are than Rick Lazio has been," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York.

Lazio
Republican opponent Rick Lazio criticizes Hillary Clinton, saying she has raised millions of dollars in "soft money"  

Her own vision for the future

While President Clinton is popular in New York -- the state that gave him his third highest vote percentage in 1996, and where Gore leads Republican nominee George W. Bush in polls -- some New York leaders hoped Mrs. Clinton would show some independence during her remarks.

"She has to come out and show the American people that she has a vision for the future she's stepping away from being the first lady and she's a candidate for Senate and just project her vision for the future," said New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

"This is a chance for her to step out on her own and say ... 'I will call the shots the way I see them.'" Silver said.

State Democratic chairwoman Judith Hope said, "I want her to just really remind New York voters that she would be a very powerful advocate and a very, very hard worker for New York in the U.S. Senate."



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Monday, August 14, 2000


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