President ‘proud of Hillary ’

The Associated Press
Wednesday November 08, 2000

For the first time in his political life, the label “candidate” did not apply to Bill Clinton and there was little for him to do on Election Day beyond root from afar for his vice president and in person for his wife – the only first lady ever elected to public office. 

After a day at their home in Chappaqua, the president and daughter Chelsea accompanied first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton to downtown Manhattan to celebrate her historic victory over Rep. Rick Lazio in the New York Senate race. 

Cheers echoed through the cavernous atrium of the Grand Hyatt Hotel as the first lady’s supporters, watching televised reports, learned she had won. The Clintons were in an upstairs suite watching returns and planned to greet those crowds later. “He’s very pleased. He’s very excited. He’s thrilled,” White House press secretary Jake Siewert said of the president’s reaction to the first lady’s victory. 

Almost as soon as the sun crested above the trees Tuesday, Clinton, his wife and their daughter were at Douglas Grafflin Elementary School in Chappaqua, casting their ballots for her and the Democratic presidential ticket of Al Gore and Joe Lieberman. 


“You can’t put me down as undecided,” the president said as he emerged from behind the booth curtain. 

With that, Clinton began his official journey to the sidelines. Still, he firmly rejected the lame duck label: “Some people thought I was a lame duck in ’95. I’ll just keep quacking. I’ve got another 10 weeks to quack.” 

Clinton called radio stations in targeted states to encourage voter turnout. 

In an interview with New York station WBAI, Clinton turned combative after the host suggested that Green Party candidate Ralph Nader’s supporters believe Clinton was “responsible for taking the Democratic Party to the right.” 

“What is the measure of taking the Democratic Party to the right?” Clinton asked, and launched into a defense of his policies. 

“Now I have talked to you a long time,” Clinton said. “It’s Election Day, there are a lot of other people in America. I’ve got to go.” 

While Democratic throngs converged on Nashville, Tenn., for Gore’s big night, Clinton said he didn’t miss being on the ballot. “I’ve had my time, and it was a good time,” he said late Monday. But he also admitted he felt “a little bit” wistful. 

“I don’t think I’m going to be running for anything. I’m just going to try to be a good citizen,” Clinton mused while greeting a crowd outside the polling station where the first family voted. “I am going to be happy doing whatever I do. I’ve had a great life. I’ve been very lucky.” 

Hillary Clinton was as ebullient as her husband was reflective. Chelsea, 20, emerged from the booth, signed an autograph for a poll worker then got a hug from her father while her mother voted. The president voted last, taking only a few seconds to cast his ballot. 

After voting, the Clintons walked out of the school and greeted a group of women, four of whom wore rubber “Hillary” masks and blonde wigs and carried signs reading “New York Blondes are fully pumped for Hillary.” The president found their getup hilarious – he called them “the clone patrol” and arranged for a group photo. Hillary Clinton nestled comfortably among her imitators, her face close to their rubber ones. 

En route to Chappaqua on Monday night, Clinton pledged to “manage the transition well” for whichever candidate wins the election, but indicated he doesn’t plan to go gently into lame-duckdom. He said he would focus on pursuing peace in the Middle East and improving relations with North Korea and would work on several legislative matters still pending before Congress – an agenda that would keep him busy until he leaves office Jan. 20.