October 31

This Day in History

Presidential

Oct 31, 2000:

President Clinton stumps for his wife

 

On this day in 2000, lame-duck President Bill Clinton campaigns in New York on behalf of his wife, Hillary, who is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate. This was the first time a first lady actively campaigned for a Senate seat.

Bill gave the speech at a dinner, sponsored by a group of Irish-Americans, which both he and Hillary attended at the Fitzpatrick Hotel in New York City. His speech included references to his success in brokering peace talks between feuding sides in Northern Ireland, but the real focus of his address was to urge the group to support Hillary's upcoming Senate bid. The couple had just purchased a home in New York and planned to make the state their official residence when his presidential term ended in January 2001. Clinton admitted that he was "highly prejudiced" about the upcoming Senate race and gave Hillary high praise, saying that he had known many politicians over the years, but "of all the people I've known, she has the best combination of brains, compassion, determination and ability to get people together and get things done. She will be a fabulous senator." He went on to extol his wife's involvement in social issues, particularly her contribution to the Irish peace process. As a member of a women's group called Vital Voices, Hillary had visited Northern Ireland in 1995 to help find a solution to the sectarian violence there. Bill recounted how she had told him, "If we can just get all these [Irish] women together, they'd figure out a way to get over this problem." Clinton joked to the Irish-American crowd that Hillary was one of those "troublesome women going around upsetting apple cars everywhere [who] don't like it when troglodyte males keep wars going on."

In November 2000, despite allegations of carpet-bagging, Hillary Clinton—who had never resided in New York prior to her Senate bid—became the first woman ever elected to the Senate from New York.

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