Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former first lady widely expected to run for her husband’s old job in the White House, on Wednesday won the enthusiastic endorsement of New York Democrats in her bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate in November.
Clinton, who faces weak opposition from state Republicans who have struggled to find a candidate with political traction, basked in cheers at the Democratic Party’s convention in Buffalo.
The senator, whose political future many believe could include a presidential bid, accepted the party support with a speech highly critical of the administration of President George W. Bush and Congress.
“What we have in Washington is a Republican administration and a Republican Congress that deny and dismiss inconvenient facts,” she said. “They don’t want to hear the real-life concerns of people.
“It’s an environment where it’s more important to say, ‘Mission accomplished’ than actually accomplish the mission,” she said.
She cited the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, which was criticized as slow and mishandled, as illustration of Bush administration failures.
“Katrina showed in the starkest of terms what happens when our leaders are not paying attention, when they are not making decisions based on the facts on the ground, when they just think they can get away with saying, ‘You’re doing a heck of a job,”‘ she said.
She also accused the administration of “wrong-headed, short-sighted foreign policies” and called for turning more responsibility over to the Iraqi government and bringing U.S. troops home.
Some Democrats have objected to Clinton’s stance on the U.S.-led war in Iraq, which she voted to authorize as a member of the U.S. Senate. She has since criticized the way the war has been run.
A few anti-war protesters stood outside the convention.
New York Republicans held their convention, also on Wednesday, in Hempstead, N.Y., and split their support between two contenders, former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer and Kathleen “KT” McFarland. The two now will compete in a September primary.
“We all know we have a daunting challenge,” Spencer said of the race against Clinton.
Clinton, who won her first term in 2000 as her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was leaving office, has raised some $40 million in campaign funds.
Polls show her handily defeating either Republican. Spencer has been plagued by questions about his personal life, after fathering children with a staff member while married to someone else, while McFarland is seen as a unknown political novice.
Clinton also leads opinion polls among possible Democratic presidential candidates in 2008, although some experts note that could be due to her strong name recognition early in the contest.
Acknowledging her husband in the audience, Clinton said: “He remains an inspiration and a mentor, a friend and a partner.” The former president did not address the crowd but joined his wife onstage after her speech.