December 21, 2005

NY Republican drops campaign against Sen. Clinton

By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Republican Jeanine Pirro
abandoned her ailing campaign to challenge U.S. Sen. Hillary
Clinton on Wednesday under growing pressure from fellow

With little money and dismal opinion poll ratings, Pirro
issued a statement saying her legal background would make her a
better candidate for state Attorney General than for U.S.

"I have concluded that my head and my heart remain in law
enforcement, and that my public service should continue to be
in that arena," she said.

Pirro, the district attorney in suburban Westchester
County, New York, has faced a growing chorus of calls to drop
out by state Republicans. Her decision has been widely expected
for weeks.

Her campaign got off to a bumpy start in August when she
misplaced a page of her announcement speech and stood, silent
and visibly uncomfortable, for more than 32 seconds in front of
scores of reporters and television cameras.

Her fund-raising efforts were bleak. Pirro raised less than
$400,000 through September, compared with Clinton's nearly $14
million. Clinton also has been mentioned as a possible
Democratic presidential contender in 2008.

Polls showed Pirro had such an uphill battle against the
Democratic former first lady that one survey had her trailing
by 32 points.

Although nearly any Republican running against Clinton for
U.S. Senate may be seen as a political sacrificial lamb,
analysts said the Pirro campaign was particularly poorly

"This is really a comedy of errors and missteps for the
candidate, the party, the consultants, everybody," said Douglas
Muzzio, professor of public affairs at Baruch College at The
City University of New York. "Everybody wants an opponent like
these guys."

Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf said: "It shows a
Republican Party in New York state in disarray and a clear
trend that they will not be able to defeat Sen. Clinton."

Other possible Republican candidates waiting in the wings
include attorney Edward Cox, the son-in-law of the late
President Richard Nixon, who withdrew from the race for the
Republican nomination in October, and former Yonkers, New York,
Mayor John Spencer.

One political problem for Pirro, who frequently appears on
national talk shows and was listed by People Magazine in 1997
as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world, was her
marriage. Albert Pirro fathered an out-of-wedlock child and
served 11 months in federal prison for tax fraud.

A backer of abortion and gay rights, Pirro also had trouble
winning support from conservatives.

Pirro said she would formally announce her candidacy for
state Attorney General in January. The current Attorney
General, Democrat Eliot Spitzer, is eyeing the job of governor.