A Female President? Hillary Says "Stay Tuned"

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, standing outside an abandoned knitting mill that will become the new home of the National Women's Hall of Fame, said Thursday she hopes America is ready for its first woman president.

"It just depends on when and if that happens," Clinton told ABC TV's Nightline. "Stay tuned."

Clinton continued to duck questions about whether she will run in 2008, saying yet again she is completely focused on her re-election this year.

But Clinton said that when it comes to a woman holding what she called "the toughest job in the world, some day it will happen."

Clinton was on the campaign trail Thursday reaching out to women- a core group of supporters - in her front-running bid for a second Senate term, a race many see as a prelude to a run for president in two years.

The former first lady followed the stop in Seneca Falls with lunch at a restaurant in Moravia for a new group - "Moms for Hillary."

The events served as a reminder that Clinton, who was inducted into the women's hall in 2004, made history in 2000 by becoming the first, and thus far only, woman independently elected to statewide office in New York. The state has had three female lieutenant governors, but they have run as part of male-led tickets.

In Seneca Falls, Clinton was greeted by several dozen enthusiastic supporters at a cafe near the site of the hall of fame project, for which she has obtained $800,000 in federal money.

Among those on hand was Rose Francis, 89, owner of a Seneca Falls dress shop for the past 55 years. A Republican, Francis said she supported Clinton in 2000 and would vote for her again this year. She also said Clinton should run for president in two years and that she would be happy to help make the former first lady the first woman president.

"I think she's great," said Francis.

Recent polls have shown Clinton far ahead of her rivals in the New York race, and with a distinct advantage among female voters.

A poll released last week by Quinnipiac University's Polling Institute found the job approval rating for the state's junior senator at 58 percent - 53 percent among male voters and 63 percent among women.

The same poll found the state's senior senator, her fellow Democrat Charles Schumer, sporting a 59 percent voter approval rating. But in Schumer's case there was no such gender disparity - 59 percent of men and women approved of the job he was doing.

During the 2000 campaign, the Clinton camp became so concerned about opposition from some women, especially professionals, that it set up group meetings to win them over.

But even some women who support Clinton's re-election this year aren't certain she should run for the White House in 2008, in large part because she is a woman.

Valerie Brechko, an elementary school teacher from Penn Yan, said Wednesday during a Clinton campaign stop that while she is a strong Clinton supporter, she doesn't want her to run in 2008 because she can't win.

"I don't feel that our country is willing or ready to vote a woman into that office," Brechko said. "I hate to say it - I'm definitely a women's libber - but they're just not ready."

Clinton faces a Sept. 12 primary against anti-Iraq war activist Jonathan Tasini. Former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer and Reagan-era Pentagon official Kathleen Troia "KT" McFarland are vying for the Republican Senate nomination.

Source: AP