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Wednesday, July 7, 1999 Published at 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK

World: Americas

Analysis: Long road ahead for Hillary

Hillary Clinton is big in the Big Apple but not upstate

By the BBC's Jane Hughes in New York

If Hillary Clinton decides to run for a Senate seat in New York, she will be embarking on a long and rocky road.

Not only has she chosen the state with one of the most notoriously ruthless press packs in the US, but she is also likely to be running against a man who has never been known to pull his punches.

[ image: Rudy Giuliani criticises Hillary Clinton as a 'carpetbagger']
Rudy Giuliani criticises Hillary Clinton as a 'carpetbagger'
Rudolph Giuliani, New York's abrasive mayor, who made his name by presiding over unprecedented declines in crime, has already made it clear he is not going to cut the First Lady any slack.

Immediately after speculation surfaced that Mrs Clinton might run for Senate, Mayor Giuliani seized on comments she had made about the Middle East peace process that might not sit well with New York's large Jewish community.

He also seems unable to hear mention of the First Lady without raising the carpetbagger issue.

[ image:  ]
Hillary Clinton has never lived in New York, and as far as the Mayor is concerned, that makes her bid for retiring Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan's seat an insult.

Not all New Yorkers agree with Mr Giuliani. In the Big Apple, where only a minority can claim to be New York born and bred, the idea of Senator Clinton has wide appeal.

People are less worried about where she is from and more concerned about her policies on healthcare, the economy and education.

Big in the Big Apple

Opinion polls put Hillary Clinton and Rudolph Giuliani neck and neck.

The further you get from New York City, the stronger is the mayor's support.

[ image:  ]
Away from the city, people admire his crime fighting successes without being put off by what some describe as his Hitler-esque manner.

But down among the skyscrapers of Manhattan, the traditionally Democrat supporting city gives the First Lady strong support.

Her demeanour during the travails of the Lewinsky scandal won her widespread respect among New York women, as has her apparent ambition to strike out on her own now, and to plough her own political furrow.

Upstate distaste

[ image: Upstate New Yorkers are critical of the first couple]
Upstate New Yorkers are critical of the first couple
But head for upstate cities like Albany, Buffalo or Rochester or New York's leafy suburbs, and you hear a very different tune.

There, the prospect of one of the Clintons representing them in the Senate makes many people shudder.

They cannot forget the scandals with which they have been associated - Whitewater, Travelgate and Filegate, and the Lewinsky affair only served to reinforce their abhorrence of the presidential couple.

The race to watch

At this stage, neither has even confirmed that he or she will be running. Congressman Rick Lazio may well challenge Mayor Giuliani for the Republican nomination.

But one thing is certain. If, as most commentators confidently predict, this does become a Hillary versus Rudy race, it will be the most closely watched contest in the 2000 elections.

Even the presidential race will find it difficult to compete for attention.

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