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Thursday, March 4, 1999 Published at 18:05 GMT

World: Americas

Hillary focuses on fundraising

Hillary Clinton wants speculation to settle as she considers a run

One person who was not watching the Monica Lewinsky television interview was Hillary Clinton.

She and President Clinton were at a Democratic party fundraising event, amid intense speculation about the possibility of her standing for New York's Senate seat.

She did not directly comment on whether or not she would run, but she certainly sounded like a candidate at the Democratic luncheon.

Jane Hughes in New York: A chance for Hillary Clinton to test the temperature of New York's political waters
Her visit to a school in the borough of Queens and an appearance at a fundraising luncheon were her first public events in the state since speculation began to build about her possible candidacy.

Mrs Clinton was at the school to promote arts education, and correspondents say she kept to the script.

Questions about the Senate race were greeted with silence by Mrs Clinton, but 500 students and adults at Intermediate School 25 in Queens greeted the first lady with thunderous applause.

[ image: Rudy Giuliani was in Washington on Wednesday]
Rudy Giuliani was in Washington on Wednesday
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who has been cast as Mrs Clinton's opponent in the dream race of the 2000 elections, did not attend the event. He was in Washington, testifying before Congress.

Polls taken last month showed Mrs Clinton ahead of Mr Giuliani by 54% to 36%, but more recent polls have shown her with a slim 4% lead.

Standing room only

After Mrs Clinton's school appearance, she attended a Democratic National Committee Women's Leadership Forum luncheon.

Speculation over her possible Senate candidacy caused a run on tickets for the event.

Organisers originally planned for a crowd of 500 but later added 400 more seats because of the demand for tickets.

Even with the extra seats, 300 people were left on a waiting list.

"I begin to think about the future in political terms because I've always believed that we are at our best as a nation when everybody understands their obligation as a citizen," Mrs. Clinton said Wednesday.

Mrs Clinton tantalised the crowd with such comments but did not state her intentions.

When she finished her speech, the audience began chanting "Go, go, go! Run, Hillary, run!"

Last week, Mrs Clinton's confidant, New York Senator Charles Schumer, said that the first lady hoped the intense speculation surrounding her possible candidacy would subside as she made her decision.

But a member of the campaign to draft Mrs Clinton as candidate, Democratic Representative Charles Rangel, said her visit would only increase the speculation about her political aspirations.

"Whenever she comes to town, it turns up the wattage," he said. "This adds even more electricity. Anything she attends now has political overtones."

Mrs Clinton is scheduled to appear at the United Nations on Thursday about the upcoming International Women's Day before visiting a school in the Manhattan to view an HBO documentary on women and sports.

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