Hillary Clinton visits Eleanor Roosevelt's home

HYDE PARK, N.Y. - Hillary Rodham Clinton made a pilgrimage Saturday to the home of her hero, Eleanor Roosevelt, a former first lady who declined a challenge the current one has taken on - a run for the U.S. Senate.

Clinton came to Val-Kill, Eleanor Roosevelt's cottage home and a national historic site, to announce that $150,000 has been raised through private donations to help with preservation.

Introducing the first lady to a crowd of more than 400 people, Anna Roosevelt, granddaughter of Eleanor Roosevelt, said: ''The legacy of this place is the legacy of a great woman who simply took stock of who she was and where she was and then tried to be useful. Such a woman is Hillary Rodham Clinton.''

''It should feel like home here,'' she told the first lady.

Taking the podium, Clinton said the Val-Kill site was ''a fitting monument to a woman who was larger than life, but always approachable.''

In her day, Eleanor Roosevelt had turned down a plea from Harold L. Ickes, a top aide to President Franklin Roosevelt, to run for the U.S. Senate from New York. Clinton's top political adviser in her Senate race against U.S. Rep. Rick Lazio is Harold M. Ickes, a son of the Roosevelt adviser.

Before her speech, Clinton toured the cottage where Eleanor Roosevelt worked and slept. It was the first lady's second visit there in five years.

Clinton has long been an admirer of Eleanor Roosevelt, admitting in 1996 that she had carried on imaginary conversations with her predecessor since taking up residence at the White House.

At Val-Kill on Saturday, Clinton recalled her first mention of talking with Mrs. Roosevelt, at an event in New York City.

''I was looking out at this audience at Lincoln Center and I said, 'You know, the White House just encourages me to have conversations with Mrs. Roosevelt.' I meant it as a metaphor, but it became, yet again, one of those things people all talked about,'' she said. ''I guess sort of suggesting I really had gone off the deep end.

''But you know, it's not a bad idea to think about what Mrs. Roosevelt would do and say.''

She ended her speech with a smile, telling her audience, ''The next time I talk to her, I will tell her all about what you are doing.''

Meanwhile Saturday, Lazio said he will remain in the House while he runs for Senate. Lazio's statements came two days after he missed a Congressional vote because he was flying back to New York to campaign.

''I am not considering stepping down,'' Lazio told reporters in Oakdale, N.Y., at a ceremony honoring veterans of the Normandy invasion. ''I think it's a matter of duty.''

Lazio missed Thursday's vote on a $10 million funding bill that would have established a 2 million barrel home heating oil reserve. Lazio supported the bill, which was voted down in the House, 195-193.


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