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web posted October 16, 2000

Hillary Clinton gets environmentalist support, explains fund-raising 'mix-up'

First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton picked up another key environmental endorsement on October 13 in her U.S. Senate race against Republican congressman Rick Lazio, when the New York League of Conservation Voters announced it is backing Clinton's candidacy. The same group's national arm endorsed both Lazio and Clinton.

New York LCV Chairman Paul Elston told a news conference in Manhattan that the first lady "demonstrated a stronger commitment to environmental protection and would provide stronger environmental leadership in the Senate" than would Lazio.

"Mr. Lazio has a good record," Elston said, "but the fact is, he simply has not demonstrated the leadership that we know Mrs. Clinton will provide here."

Previously, the Sierra Club and environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. endorsed her candidacy. But the national League of Conservation Voters, based in Washington, announced a dual endorsement in the race.

"We're disappointed the state LCV buckled under the pressure of partisan politics," said Lazio press secretary Mollie Fullington, "but we're delighted the national LCV rightly rewarded the congressman's stellar environmental record."

The national LCV is not formally affiliated with any LCV state chapter.

Also, Clinton addressed a fund-raising mistake by her Senate campaign. She confirmed that among the recipients of a fund-raising letter mailed to 350,000 people were 1,400 names of official White House visitors.

Although about 1,000 of those names were already on a campaign donor list, the first lady acknowledged the mailing was improper.

"It was an error," she said, "and as soon as the campaign found out about it, we immediately moved to take action. We discovered the practical effect was (that) five people made contributions totaling $225, and we're returning those."

Clinton took personal responsibility for what she called the "mix-up." But the Lazio campaign claimed the mistake was typical.

"Just when you think that Hillary Clinton can't go any lower in abusing the public trust, she and her campaign find a new way," said Lazio Campaign Manager Bill Dal Col in a statement.

Loyal Nader fans pack Madison Square Garden

About 15,000 supporters packed a sold-out Madison Square Garden to voice their noisy enthusiasm for Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader, angrily criticizing his exclusion from the recent presidential debates and hailing him as a reinvigorating force for democracy.

Ralph NaderThe mostly 20- and 30-something crowd paid $20 each for tickets to the rally the night of October 13, billed as "Nader Rocks the Garden." They whooped as celebrities including Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Michael Moore and Bill Murray heaped praise on Nader.

They grooved to musical performances by Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, Patti Smith, Ani DiFranco and Ben Harper, and raised the roof with a chorus of, "Let Ralph Debate."

"Welcome to the politics of joy and justice," Nader said. "We are building a historic, progressive, political movement in America; a movement for which November 7 is just one stopping place."

In an hourlong speech that at times sounded like a left-leaning history lesson, Nader assailed big business for what he called "a corporate crime wave," and said the Democratic and Republican parties were controlled by corporations.

"Our country has been sold to the highest bidder," Nader said.

Concerning the environment, poverty, racism, workers' rights, defense spending and a slough of other issues, the lifelong consumer advocate accused politicians and business of failing the country.

"Corporations were designed to be our servants not our masters," he said. "We're going backwards, while the rich are becoming super rich."

It was a different kind of political fund-raiser from the swank events often hosted by Democratic and Republican candidates, with the atmosphere of a rock concert rather than a political rally.

"You're not seeing black ties," said Thomas King, 22, of White Plains, New York. Although a Democrat, King promised to vote for Nader to send a message. "I'm not too pleased with the fact that Clinton and the new Democrats have moved so close to the center. ... This is a populist movement."

Cardboard boxes were passed through the crowd to collect donations.

Speakers assailed Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore as ideologically similar candidates in the pocket of corporate America. They said the two have similar views on trade, foreign policy and the war on drugs.

Filmmaker Moore urged the crowd not to worry that voting for Nader might help Bush by taking votes from Gore.

"The lesser of two evils, you still end up with evil," Moore said. "You don't make a decision because of fear: you make it on your hopes, your dreams, your aspirations. ... Follow your conscience. Do the right thing."

Tracking poll: Bush pulls away from Gore

GOP presidential candidate Gov. George W. Bush has regained his lead over rival Democratic candidate, Vice President Al Gore, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released on October 14.

A second poll taken by CNN and Time Magazine after the candidates' debate on October 11 suggests that Gore may have missed a chance in that face-off to gain any ground on his rival.

The CNN/Time poll shows Bush with a 48 percent to 43 percent edge over Gore, and the CNN/USA Today/Gallup tracking poll indicates that Bush leads Gore by 48 percent to 44 percent.

Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader and Reform Party candidate Patrick Buchanan both continued to founder in the single digits.

A poll on October 13 showed the two major party candidates in a statistical tie at 45 percent. Nader had 3 percent and Buchanan had 0 percent. The polls all had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

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