Clinton keeps plugging

Election 2008

November 03, 2008|By New York Times News Service

WINTER PARK, Fla. - Her crowds are smaller now, and most of the reporters are gone. The campaign posters say his name, not hers. And instead of championing her ideas for health insurance or tax relief, Sen. Hillary Clinton is giving out 1-800 numbers and Internet addresses for Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

Watching Clinton campaign for her old rival, masking what friends say is lingering disappointment, it is easy to recall happier days.

Of 20 Obama supporters interviewed about Clinton as she campaigned in Florida over the weekend, all praised her effusively. All 20 said that if Obama won, they hoped that she would be his secretary of state or that she would shepherd his health care or energy bills through the Senate. All said they hoped that she would run for president again.

"I would have supported her this year if not for her vote for the Iraq war and the fact that she never said it was a mistake," said Jocelyn Bartkevicius, a Democrat and writer and editor who attended the rally here. "But she has been so strong for Obama this fall, such a good sport. I wouldn't hold a long-term grudge. I'd be with her next time."

For friends and allies thinking about Clinton's political future, the possibility of a victory by Sen. John McCain on Tuesday would upend an array of assumptions, not least of which that Clinton - if she were to run again - would not do so until 2016. But under a McCain presidency, Clinton could be well positioned, given her friendship with him and good standing among Washington Republicans, to help him with a Democratic-led Congress on alternative energy, which both have highlighted on the campaign trail.

While Clinton's high profile in Democratic politics has been fortified by her work for Obama, her friends say it is too soon to say what her future holds. For one thing, they say, she is not over her primary loss. Others say she is being a good soldier because she wants to be a power player if Obama wins.

Clinton received about 17 million votes in her presidential primary campaign and by all accounts will emerge on Election Day as a respected force among people around Obama, for whom she has raised several million dollars and done more than 75 rallies, fundraisers, conference calls and other tasks.

"It's one of those times where she has won by losing," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat. "Everyone's respect for her ... has gone up in the way she has handled herself since the end of the race."

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