As Hillary Rodham Clinton's bus slowly chugged along the roads in upstate New York recently on a tour for historic preservation, she glanced out the window at a woman holding aloft a cardboard sign. It said, "You Go Girl."
It appears that the first lady has been trying to do just that, and in some respects is succeeding, even as her husband prepares to face a federal grand jury on Monday about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.Hillary Clinton's approval ratings across the country are higher than ever. Instead of sequestering herself at the White House, away from the klieg lights and the inevitable questions about Lewinsky, the first lady has crowded her schedule with things to do and people to see.
Two weekends ago in the Hamptons on New York's Long Island, Hillary Clinton dropped in on the glitterati, firing up a crowd of 1,000 people who whooped and hollered as she introduced her husband. And she has helped several Democratic candidates, raising $150,000 in Philadelphia for one candidate two weeks ago. Soon, she will be traveling to Russia, Ireland, Chile and Uruguay.
Once in a while, she has stirred things up by dishing out a few select words about the Lewinsky matter, in which a grand jury is investigating whether President Clinton lied when asked under oath if he had had a sexual relationship with the former intern and whether he tried to cover it up.
In January, Hillary Clinton placed the blame on a "right-wing conspiracy" spearheaded by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr and his allies for trying to ruin her husband's presidency.
Tuesday, in an interview published in The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the first lady said prejudice against Arkansas was driving the attacks on her husband. "I think a lot of this is prejudice against our state," she told the newspaper. "They wouldn't do this if we were from some other state."
Some Republicans in Arkansas seized on Hillary Clinton's remark. "I know she must be going through a lot of stress, but I don't think anyone in Arkansas believes this is occurring because of prejudice towards the state," said Rep. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark. "It's inexplicable."
Rep. Jay Dickey, R-Ark., was harsher.
"It is sad and unfortunate that Arkansas is depicted by the first lady as a backward state, worthy of ridicule and prejudice," Dickey said.