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    Political Junkie
    Send your questions about campaigns and elections.
    Capitol Hillary: Is New York Ready for Sen. Clinton?

    By Ken Rudin
    Special to
    Friday, February 5, 1999

    Question: A Canadian newspaper, the National Post, published a report that Hillary Clinton was planning to seek the Democratic nomination for the seat of Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), who is retiring in 2000. Is there any truth to this? – Peter MacDougall, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

    Answer: New York being New York, political list-makers have bandied about a long list of unrealistic and unlikely Democratic contenders for the 2000 Senate race. John F. Kennedy Jr., Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cabinet secretaries Andrew Cuomo, Robert E. Rubin and Donna E. Shalala, actor Alec Baldwin and commentator George Stephanopoulos have all been mentioned. So when the name of Hillary Rodham Clinton came up in recent weeks, the list-makers said, why not?

    An anti-RFK button from the 1964 Senate race in New York.
    (Collection of Ken Rudin)
    As for the minor inconvenience of her current residency, Hillary-for-Senate boosters point to the late Robert Kennedy. The U.S. attorney general was a registered Massachusetts voter who lived in Virginia when, after being snubbed for the vice presidency by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, he decided to run for the Senate in New York. Not a resident of the state? No problem. He leased a home on Long Island. Charges of carpetbagging hounded RFK throughout the campaign. Helped along by LBJ's coattails, Kennedy nonetheless ousted Republican incumbent Kenneth Keating by a three-to-two margin.

    The Bobby analogy doesn't entirely fit the Hillary situation. Kennedy's parents had owned a home in the Empire State since the 1920s. And he attended New York schools for six years until his father became ambassador to Great Britain. Hillary Clinton has no such roots.

    I'll be the first to admit that this is a fun story. But she's not going to run. Rep. Nita Lowey, who represents a district that covers parts of Westchester, the Bronx and Queens, will be the Democratic nominee.

    Question: Regardless of whether Hillary Clinton seeks Moynihan's seat, has any first lady ever run for office, such as senator or president? – Don MacGregor, Riverwoods, Ill.

    Answer: No.

    Question: Regarding your column about Elizabeth Dole (see the Jan. 22 column): In addition to the facts you mentioned, it's also true she has no children. Who was the last non-parent to be president? – David Kuhn, Rockville, Md.

    Answer: Six of the 41 men who served as president had no children, the last one being Warren Harding, who married a divorcee five years his senior in 1891. The marriage lasted 32 years, but produced no offspring.

    The other childless presidents: James Buchanan, James Knox Polk, Andrew Jackson, James Madison, and George Washington.

    Question: Your list of women who ran for president (also in the Jan. 22 column) is incomplete. Victoria Woodhull ran for president in 1872. She was a very interesting character for her time. – Keith Burkart, Houston, Tex.

    And what about Lenora Fulani? – Charles Todd, Alexandria, Va.

    Lenora B. Fulani was the first female presidential candidate to appear on the ballot in all 50 states.
    (Collection of Ken Rudin)
    Answer: In my answer regarding Elizabeth Dole, I was focusing on women who sought the Democratic and Republican nominations. But any list of female presidential candidates most certainly starts with Ms. Woodhull, who was the nominee of the Equal Rights Party (or People's Party) in 1872. Woodhull's running-mate, by the way, was Frederick Douglass.

    Other women who headed up third-party presidential tickets include Belva Lockwood (Equal Rights, 1884 and 1888), Charlene Mitchell (Communist, 1968), Linda Jenness (Socialist Workers, 1972), Margaret Wright (People's Party, 1976), Deirdre Griswold (Workers World, 1980), Ellen McCormack (Right to Life, 1980), Maureen Smith (Peace and Freedom, 1980), Sonia Johnson (Citizens, 1984), Lenora Fulani (New Alliance, 1988 and 1992), and Gloria La Riva (Workers World, 1992). Mitchell, in '68, was the first black woman nominated for president; Fulani, in '88, was the first female presidential candidate to appear on the ballot in all 50 states.

    Question: Inasmuch as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was not born in the U.S., could she ascend to the presidency? – Cecil Fitzpatrick, Bee Branch, Ark.

    Answer: No. The Secretary of State is fourth in line to the presidency, following the vice president, speaker of the House, and the president pro tempore of the Senate. But Article II of the Constitution states that "no person except a natural born Citizen... shall be eligible to the Office of President." Madeleine Korbel Albright was born in Prague to Czechoslovakian parents on May 15, 1937, and didn't come to the United States until after World War II.

    As I spelled out in my July 9 column, Arizona Sen. John McCain – who was born in the Panama Canal Zone – is eligible for the presidency because he was born to American parents. That's not the case with Albright. Thus, the line of succession in this case would skip her and go to Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin.

    Got a question? Ask Ken Rudin:

    Ken Rudin, political editor at National Public Radio, is also the creator of's ScuttleButton contest.

    © Copyright 1999 Ken Rudin

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