THE GIRLS IN THE VAN by Beth J. Harpaz

THE GIRLS IN THE VAN

Covering Hillary

KIRKUS REVIEW

A detailed account of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Senate campaign, from an AP staff writer.

In 1998, when Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan announced his retirement plans, New Yorkers began to speculate as to who would replace him. As the race narrowed to First Lady Hillary Clinton and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, many in the press corps thought a success for Clinton was unlikely: she had never held elective office or lived in New York, and she had just weathered eight years of White House scandals. But the press didn’t factor in Clinton’s appeal to liberals, women, and upstate voters; her “Listening Tour” visited all 62 counties, coverage that Giuliani and Rick Lazio (who won the Republican nomination after the mayor dropped out) didn’t come close to duplicating. Harpaz deftly chronicles the events surrounding the race. Even though she was campaigning for public office, Clinton remained elusive. Frustrated by the lack of media access (dubbed “avails”), the press corps never knew if the campaign’s stonewalling was due to security concerns, Clinton’s reserved disposition, or her general distrust of the media. Harpaz provides juicy details contrasting Clinton and Lazio: while the first lady’s foreign-policy vision, as presented to the Council on Foreign Relations, “cover[ed] everything from the Balkans to missile-defense technology to human rights to Israel,” Lazio “referred to the president of North Korea as ‘Kim Jong the Second’ instead of ‘Kim Jong Il.’ ” Some of the first lady’s initial comments betrayed her carpetbagger status, but by the end of the race “she ended up an expert on everything from treating asthma in the Bronx to getting high-speed Internet access in Buffalo.” And Harpaz’s chronicle of a mostly female press corps covering the first woman ever to hold statewide office in New York makes for exhilarating reading.

Solid and worthwhile.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 2001
ISBN: 0-312-28126-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2001




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