The head of New York's Democratic Party suggested today that Hillary Rodham Clinton "give up her day job" and concentrate more on her Senate campaign.
Judith Hope, the state Democratic chairwoman, was reacting to the political fallout from Clinton's trip to the Middle East, in which the first lady only belatedly responded to charges against Israel by the wife of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Hope said today that "there is an increasing awareness that there is an incompatibility" between being first lady and running a Senate campaign.
"Of course, you can't just quit that job, but somehow, some kind of mechanism needs to be found to enable her to be a candidate," Hope said.
In New York City, where the Jewish vote is crucial in a tight race, Clinton's tightrope in the Middle East could work in favor of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, her likely Republican opponent in the Senate race. Twelve percent of New York's voters are Jewish.
A Quinnipiac poll this month indicated the mayor and the first lady are in a statistical tie for support of Jewish voters, with 46 percent of them backing her and 43 percent Giuliani.
Referring to the challenges Clinton faces in trying to be both candidate and first lady, Hope said, "Maybe she has to give up her day job."
Howard Wolfson, spokesman for Clinton's exploratory campaign, responded: "She is making the transition from full-time first lady to Senate candidate and I expect that next year, she will devote the vast majority of her time, resources and energy to running for Senate."