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Election 2000: Presidential Race Too Close to Call; Hillary Rodham Clinton Headed for Capitol Hill

Aired November 8, 2000 - 8:36 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: No fewer than 10 women have been elected to the U.S. Senate, and one of them elected from the state of New York knows what it is like to do some hard bargaining with the White House. First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton won her New York Senate seat, taking the place of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who retired.

CNN's Frank Buckley is live in New York, having covered the campaign for more than a year now -- Frank.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Carol.

New Yorkers didn't have to wait very long to find out the results of the New York Senate race. By 9:00, the polls closed and immediately all of the networks, all of the news organizations, call it a Hillary Clinton win. She would be referred to from now on as Senator-elect Hillary Clinton.

Let's take you to the Hyatt Regency Hotel last night in Manhattan, where Mrs. Clinton appeared in the ballroom, arriving at around 11:00 last night, knowing she was the victor in the race. She had already received the concession call for Rep. Rick Lazio, her Republican opponent. She took to the stage to thank New Yorkers for their votes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK SEN.-ELECT: Sixty-two counties, 16 months, three debates, two opponents, and six black pant suits later, because of you, here we are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCKLEY: A very different mood at the Rick Lazio headquarters in another hotel in Manhattan, where it was clear that Lazio had lost. Still supporters cheered the Long Island congressman who entered the race some five months ago after New York city Mayor Rudy Giuliani dropped out. This is how Lazio told supporters that the voters had spoken.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RICK LAZIO (R), FMR. N.Y. SEN. CANDIDATE: I feel like the Mets. We came in second. I just called Hillary Clinton to congratulate her. No. No. No. Please. I congratulate her, and it's time for us to hold our heads up high and to unify our state and to stand together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCKLEY: And this morning this is what New Yorkers are reading in their New York city tabloids any way. This is "Daily News": "Capitol Hill"; and the "New York Post" same thing: "Capitol Hill." Talking about Hillary Clinton. They avoided the presidential race saying it was still too close to call, though the "New York Post" in its first edition said "Bush Wins."

Mrs. Clinton, today, is having a news conference at noon. After that, it is not clear, last night late into the early morning hours, they were talking about possibly doing a fly around of the state. But that hasn't been determined yet, and we should know a little bit later today.

LIN: Frank, when the first lady, -- well, Senator-elect Clinton takes office, do you know what her first priority is going to be?

BUCKLEY: Well, she has a number of things that she has talked about: health care, education, environment. Isn't clear exactly what she will be doing. And it also isn't clear, necessarily, exactly how much influence she will wield as a junior senator from New York in a Senate that isn't controlled by the Democrats.

LIN: No idea whether she will be taking any seats on any particular committees yet. Still too early to tell.

BUCKLEY: No, she hasn't really expressed much beyond saying she would like to be in a position to get more money to New York. But most senators would like to be on a appropriations kind of a committee to get money for their states.

LIN: That's a safe wet to win votes. All right, thanks so much, Frank Buckley.

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