It was sure to happen: Republicans have produced a television commercial attacking Hillary Rodham Clinton for not denouncing Suha Arafat, wife of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, when--in the first lady's presence--she accused Israel of poisoning Palestinian women and children with toxic gases.
"Instead of reacting with outrage, Hillary Clinton sat by silently. When Arafat was finished, Hillary gave her a hug and a kiss," says the narrator in the ad paid for by the Republican Jewish Coalition, which begins airing in New York and in Washington today.
Howard Wolfson, spokesman for Clinton's exploratory Senate campaign committee, called the ad "an outrage" yesterday on ABC's "This Week." He accused New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Clinton's likely GOP opponent, of being associated with the commercial.
As for speculation that the first lady may decide against running, Wolfson said the campaign "is moving full steam ahead."
A New York City councilwoman broke ranks with fellow Democrats Saturday and urged Clinton to stay out of the race. "She's the weakest candidate," said Ronnie Eldridge, who represents the Upper West Side of Manhattan. "I think that she should reconsider her candidacy and that Democratic officials should also reconsider the wisdom of her candidacy."
A Zogby/New York Post poll of 908 state residents released yesterday shows that 53 percent polled Thursday and Friday said Clinton should not run for the Senate from New York, while 45 percent said she should.
Trump Keeps Presidential Cards Covered
Trying to figure out whether Donald Trump is running for president is a bit like shaking up a Magic 8-Ball. Ask one day: All signs point to yes. Ask another day: Try again later.
The enigmatic real estate tycoon was at his exasperating best during a taping of the cable TV show "Hardball With Chris Matthews" at the University of Pennsylvania on Thursday. Trump, who has been accused of using his presidential flirtation to goose sales of his recent book, said during the show that he was "indeed running," but added, after a long pause, "perhaps."
Trump went on to say he would run only if he was certain he could win, something he may not know until as late as next February (even though he says his current polls look "amazing"). If he does decide to run, Trump said, he might spend as much as $80 million or $100 million of his money on the race.
Trump also has taken some hits for allegedly serving as a stalking-horse for Jesse Ventura, the Reform Party governor of Minnesota. Ventura is believed to harbor presidential plans for 2004 and has encouraged a Trump bid to block conservative Patrick J. Buchanan from hijacking the party and driving it to the right on social issues.
That argument gained a bit of credence last week when Trump unveiled his campaign Web site (www.donaldjtrump2000.com). The designer? Phil Madsen, who also happens to be the brains behind Ventura's site.