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Wednesday, 24 November, 1999, 14:16 GMT
Mixed emotions for Hillary's new neighbours
Hillary Clinton in New Rochelle Hillary Clinton: Working for votes and house-hunting

Hillary Clinton's new home in Westchester gives her the New York address she needs to run her campaign for election to the US Senate.

The manicured gardens of Westchester County surround white-pillared colonial mansions, cool, glinting swimming pools, and the nation's most exclusive golf clubs.

At Jenny Fee, the most exclusive estate agents around, they are used to meeting the needs of celebrity clients.

clintons Not everyone is looking forward to their new neighbours' arrival
Estate agent Sheila Stone is lyrical about the area's merits. "Westchester is the premier county close to New York City, and it will give them a sense of the privacy hopefully, beautiful countryside, and some lovely towns.

"Scarsdale, particularly, is built in the English Tudor style. It is also a county that politically has, I believe, a lot of clout," she says.

And that is the point.

For Hillary Clinton it is not so much the golf clubs and commuting opportunities that sell Westchester. It is the fact that to win New York's senate race, she needs to win in the suburbs of New York City.

Political commentator Dan Greenfield says: "The suburban vote is crucial in state-wide elections.

"With the Republicans basically controlling the upstate counties, and the Democrats traditionally controlling the city, the Republicans and the Democrats have warred in areas like Westchester County, Nassau and Suffolk."

Carpetbagger accusation

The ladies who lunch are talking of little else in the cushioned comfort of Scarsdale's nail salon. When Hillary Clinton becomes a neighbour, will she join them for a chat and a manicure, for example, and will they want her to?

Some are enthusiastic but at the same time wary of her credentials for New York senator.

One, when asked if she would like Mrs Clinton as her senator, said: "I'm not sure. She doesn't come from New York and I wonder how much she really understands about this state and this city."

The carpetbagger issue dogs the First Lady wherever she goes. In the glitz of the local mall, perfect for taking Chelsea on a shopping spree, opponents make no effort to hide their hostility to the Clintons.

"I just am not very fond of either one of them. I don't like their tactics and standards," said one.

Another added: "I believe in a lot more old fashioned kind of living and right from wrong. I wouldn't want them as neighbours."

'Repugnant, vile, disgusting'

But it is in the pages of the local Journal News that her opponents have really let rip. Features editor Ellen Hale asked readers to write welcoming letters to the Clintons - and she was decidedly taken aback by their response.

"Very easily, half of them, very vehemently, did not want the Clintons anywhere near Westchester County, little less their own home town.

"I think my favourite comment was 'the two of you are the most self-indulgent, self-absorbed, repugnant, vile, disgusting human beings that I've ever seen'."

Winning over the tennis courts and hair salons of Westchester County will be crucial if Hillary Clinton's to succeed in her anticipated bid for senate.

But it is clear she will need to do far more than just move here to sway the politics of this highly polarised area
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See also:
10 Jul 99 |  Americas
Hillary Clinton: View from the street
16 Aug 99 |  Americas
Picture Gallery: Clintons house-hunt in New York
08 Jul 99 |  Americas
Hillary's Senate challenge
07 Jul 99 |  Americas
Hillary's political life
02 Aug 99 |  Americas
Hillary: 'We have love'
07 Jul 99 |  Americas
Analysis: Long road ahead for Hillary

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