January 11, 2005,
Amid speculation that she might forgo a run for re-election to the Senate in 2006 in favor of a presidential run in 2008, New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has sent an early fundraising appeal that, while directed toward reelection, reads like a trial run for a White House bid.
"As the Republicans' number one target in 2006, I have to begin now building resources for the tough fight I face in my re-election campaign," Clinton writes in a letter to supporters. She says her task is made more difficult by "the Republican attack machine out to distract me from my work in the Senate with politically-motivated attacks that have no basis in fact."
"They are trying to demonize me with negative attacks," Mrs. Clinton continues. "You have to fight back, and you can't sit back and let baseless attacks go unanswered."
The fundraising appeal stresses national issues, focusing almost exclusively on the economy and health care. Writing of "the negative impact the right-wing Bush agenda is having on America," Mrs. Clinton says, "As I travel around New York and the nation, I meet families who have lost health insurance and don't know what will happen if they face a medical emergency." She describes families who cannot afford a college education for their children or who can't pay for prescription drugs.
"Personal stories like these are a powerful reminder of how much has been lost since the days when President Clinton led our nation," Mrs. Clinton writes.
She also pledges to fight against Republican plans to reform Social Security. Her only substantive mention of national security is a pledge to work, as a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, "to support our troops, and to call for national security policies that will truly keep America safe."
In recent months, some political observers have guessed that Mrs. Clinton might skip a reelection bid in 2006. According to their reasoning, if she intends to run for president in 2008, she would have to begin campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire (or elsewhere, if the primary system is altered), at virtually the same time she would be reelected to her New York seat. The new fundraising appeal does not answer that question one way or the other except to suggest that, whatever her plans in New York, Mrs. Clinton is focused on presidential-style campaigning on national issues.