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Monday, August 08, 2005

Hillary gets in touch with her inner farmer

The Los Angeles Times reports that Hillary Clinton has been dancing around rural New York to the tune of "I'm a Little Bit Country" in recent weeks.

It looked like a traditional event for a rural politician: A member of Congress, standing before a sweltering summer crowd, had come to toast a local Farm Bureau official.

But the star here last week was Hillary Rodham Clinton, better known as a national liberal symbol than a hero to the traditionally Republican farming community.

In a sparsely populated part of Long Island, amid vineyards and a zinnia patch, the Democratic senator from New York boasted of raising the visibility of the state's agricultural sector among her Washington colleagues.

"They didn't know we grew anything in New York except tall buildings," she quipped.

Aw shucks.

But her twin worlds of local and national politics have something in common. In New York, where she is running for reelection in 2006, and in the Senate, where she is shaping her national persona, Clinton is moving to shed the partisan image she acquired as first lady.

Oh, she aquired it long before that.

She has taken up causes such as economic development and military overhaul that are nonpartisan or more centrist than her work in championing a national healthcare plan while her husband was president. She is teaming with local Republican officials and with some of the Senate's most conservative members.

Those efforts are beginning to pay off in New York. Her approval ratings have jumped significantly since she was elected in 2000 — even among Republicans. It is a sign that Clinton, one of the most polarizing political figures in America, has found a way to get a second look from New York voters.

What was that old saying about the leopard?

You can find the rest of this piece in all it's puffiness below.

Clinton is Cultivating an Image as a Centrist



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