Hillary to Get Nod From RFK Jr.

ByEileen A. Murphy

N E W   Y O R K, Sept. 5, 2000 -- — Hillary Rodham Clinton is getting a boost from the son of the last out-of-stater to win a Senate seat in New York.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., son of the late senator who was assassinated in 1968 while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, will endorse the first lady’s Senate bid at a campaign event in the Empire State on Wednesday.

Kennedy, a lawyer who has been advising Mrs. Clinton on environmental issues, told ABCNEWS that Mrs. Clinton has been “very aggressive about coming to [environmentalists] for positions.”

Kennedy Criticizes Lazio

Kennedy is the chief attorney for Riverkeeper, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Garrison, N.Y. He said that his relationship with Mrs. Clinton’s Republican rival, Rep. Rick Lazio, has been mixed and criticized his environmental record.

“He went along with the anti-environmental positions in the ‘Contract With America’ which if passed, would have eviscerated 25 years of environmental law in this country,” Kennedy said.

But Kennedy did acknowledge writing a letter to Lazio to thank the congressman for his support of efforts to save New York’s watershed.

On whether the historic race reminds him of his father’s run for Senate, Kennedy said that his father “inspired the same kind of reaction with people either despising him or loving him.”

He called it an “inexplicable phenomenon.”

Kennedy also says he may appear in an ad supporting Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy.

Clinton Receives Sierra Club Nod

Mrs. Clinton, who is hardly known for her work on behalf of environmental issues, picked up the endorsement of the Sierra Club — a leading environmental group that has backed Lazio in past congressional elections.

Lazio, who frequently reminds voters that he has clammed in the waters of New York, points to his record on the environment as an example of his moderate positions and reportedly fought hard for the group’s nod.

But the Sierra Club went to great lengths to make clear that Mrs. Clinton was, in their view, the clear choice. A Sierra Club official said that in lengthy interviews with both candidates, Clinton demonstrated a better grasp of the environmental issues across the state.

The move was not exactly a surprise. The Sierra Club ran ads against Mrs. Clinton’s first opponent, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and seemed to be laying the groundwork for an endorsement long before Lazio took his place.

And the endorsements keep on coming. On Thursday, Mrs. Clinton will receive the backing of Jimmy Hoffa Jr., president of the Teamsters, at an event on Long Island. Hoffa has so far refused to endorse Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore.

Teamsters spokesman Bratt Caldwell says Hoffa, who will speak at Thursday’s rally, “has supported Mrs. Clinton since October of 1999 and the fact of the matter is that we have found common ground with her on a number of policies... It doesn’t have any relationship to our decision on whether to endorse Al Gore.”