Mixing holiday cheer with the upcoming business of her Senate campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton served as keynote speaker for the New York State Democratic Committee's fifth annual holiday gala.
The party at the Pierre Hotel on Fifth Avenue attracted a powerhouse of state politicians, including Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D).
Earlier in the day, speaking to a Boys' and Girls' Club in Oyster Bay, N.Y., she proposed the creation of an all-inclusive ratings system that would cover movies, video games and television. She said the current rating system--which differs from one medium to the next--is too confusing.
She said she would fight for an all-inclusive ratings system if she is elected to the Senate next fall over her likely opponent, New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R).
During her 10-minute speech tonight, she touched on familiar issues such as the need to expand health care coverage, to improve education and to curb youth violence.
Clinton and other prominent speakers, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Kerry Kennedy Cuomo, gathered onstage about 6:40.
At the evening reception (there was an earlier one for about 100 people), about 450 guests clustered around tables and stood on chairs throughout the speeches. Each had paid $125 to attend the dinner, which was to be followed by a less pricey ($50) dessert reception for young Democrats.
Though the party honored the two members of the Kennedy clan--Cuomo for her human rights activism, Kennedy for his environmentalism--both used their time at the lectern to praise Clinton.
Kennedy recalled his late father in discussing Clinton's senatorial bid.
"Then there are the Saturday morning gas bags--they say there isn't room in New York state for Hillary Rodham Clinton," Kennedy said, his voice rising. "These are the same guys who were saying there wasn't room for Robert F. Kennedy in 1964. It's always the same guys. And they're always Republicans."
The program lasted about one hour, during which some in the crowd were boisterous. As Kennedy, who spoke before Clinton, began to wrap up, one guest stormed from the front tables toward the noisemakers and shouted for silence.