On Wednesday morning, Jeanine Pirro, the Westchester district attorney, made it official: She’s planning a bid to take on Senator Hillary Clinton next year.
The high-profile prosecutor had picked a posh conference room at the Waldorf-Astoria, in Manhattan, to make the first of three scheduled appearances declaring her candidacy for the U.S. Senate. A throng of reporters, photographers, and television crews gathered for the staged debut of the hot, new GOP challenger.
Standing at the podium, before a blue banner that read JEANINE PIRRO, the experienced campaigner played the part well, instantly reinforcing her reputation as sharp, articulate, with-it politician—at least initially. Smiling under the camera lights, Pirro launched into her stump speech with aplomb, calling herself a “fighter, an advocate, and an agent for change.” She stressed her 30-year career in office, and her moderate views. She laid out her positions on controversial issues (“I support making President Bush’s tax cuts permanent. But I also support the right of a woman to choose. . . . I believe in immigration. . . . But I also believe in the Patriot Act.”) Building momentum, she took aim at her opponent, someone who “has shortchanged New York” and who “hasn’t delivered.”
“But I am not Hillary Clinton,” Pirro declared, pausing for effect. She segued flawlessly from the type of security she’s fought for at home to the types she’ll fight for on Capitol Hill–not just national security, but Social Security, medical security, economic security. “You will know where I stand on the issues,” Pirro trumpeted, staring at a fixed spot in the back of the room.
“Hillary Clinton,” she continued, and looked down at her notes. She then paused, mid-sentence, and said nothing. She shuffled through her notes, as seconds passed. Reporters shifted in their seats. Photographers flashed their cameras.
Then, in a muffled voice, Pirro asked her staffers, “Do you have page 10?”
Welcome, Ms. Pirro, to primetime.