Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hillary Clinton, Christine Whitman: Campaigners Other Politicians Want

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hillary Clinton, Christine Whitman: Campaigners Other Politicians Want

Article excerpt

It was a coincidence of scheduling that brought Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first lady of the United States, and Christine Todd Whitman, the governor of New Jersey, here for nearly simultaneous fund-raisers, on opposite sides of the street and for opposing candidates in the Maine gubernatorial race.

In this autumn of political cynicism, these two women - one a Democrat and the other a Republican - are two of the very few public figures with a message that many voters really want to hear.

If you are Joe Brennan, a liberal Democrat trying to regain a governorship you held from 1979 to '87, who can you find outside Maine to fire up the workers and donors? The president may have his problems, but a Hillary Clinton appearance would be great.

If you are Susan Collins, a moderate Republican and first-time candidate who had to weather a divisive primary, you need someone who has come from behind to win an improbable victory. After her upset win over Gov. Jim Florio, a Democrat, last November, Christie Whitman is the obvious choice. Similar calculations by other candidates have put Whitman on the plane to 15 states this autumn and Clinton to even more.

The Republican Party has a surfeit of guys panting for the 1996 presidential nomination. Most of them are from the Midwest, the Southwest or the West. All of them favor restricting abortion rights to one degree or another. The attraction of balancing the ticket with a fiscally conservative, abortion-rights-supporting woman from an Eastern swing state with the ninth-largest store of electoral votes is obvious. Whitman has as good a chance to be facing Vice President Al Gore in some October 1996 debate as any Republican you can mention.

As for Hillary Clinton, anyone who thinks she will be a bystander in her husband's 1996 struggle for political survival ought to look at her travel schedule this fall. Talk that she would retreat into a more conventional first lady role after the defeat of her health-care initiative was nonsense.

In every speech, she finds a way to point up her role as a wife and mother, drawing homey sketches of the first family gathered around the kitchen table upstairs at the White House, helping Chelsea with her math homework or watching an FDR biography on TV. …

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