Monday , February 19, 2007
WASHINGTON —If Hillary Clinton is elected president, the next senator from New York could be her husband, Bill Clinton.
Supporters are touting that scenario in the event the seat currently held by Mrs. Clinton opens up as she moves to higher office. New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a Democrat, would be tasked with appointing someone to fill the open Senate seat for the remaining two years of Clinton's term.
SPEAKOUT: If Hillary Clinton is elected president, should the governor of New York appoint Bill Clinton to fill out her term as U.S. senator?
The Washington Examiner reports that the Clintons' allies think that would be an excellent plan even if unlikely.
"As a senator, he’d be a knockout,” Harold Ickes, an adviser for Sen. Clinton and a White House aide to the former president, told the newspaper. “He knows issues, he loves public policy and he’s a good politician.”
While other names have also been listed as potential successors should Clinton win the presidency — including Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — Ickes notes that pressure is on Spitzer to appoint a minority to the post.
"I think there’d be a real call on [Spitzer] to appoint a black senator,” Ickes said. “I think there’d be a real call on him to appoint a Hispanic senator.”
Could Clinton still fit the bill? One of the most popular presidents with black voters, he spoke Sunday to the annual meeting of the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, where he received a standing ovation.
"I know how come I'm here — I'm here because I'm a stand-in for Hillary," he said.
At the event, he spoke about health care, renewable energy technology and education, all issues that Sen. Clinton has focused on during her campaign.
"He's one of those individuals that has a reputation as a liberator for minority communities," said Lt. Gov. David Paterson, who is black and is backing Sen. Clinton for president. "Bill Clinton had a reputation for delivering. He does have a tremendous effect that I've observed when it comes to minority communities."
While Bill Clinton "is somebody who has deep affection and respect in the minority community," both Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama will still have to make their case to minority voters, said Donna Brazile, a longtime Democratic activist who ran Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2000.
"Nobody can take the minority voters for granted this campaign," she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.