Image: Sen. Hillary Clinton
Brendan Mcdermid  /  Reuters
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., gives her acceptance speech after being endorsed for Senate at the New York State Democratic Convention in Buffalo, New York, on Wednesday.
updated 5/31/2006 8:42:10 PM ET 2006-06-01T00:42:10

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, unanimously endorsed at her party’s convention for a second term, repeatedly bashed the Bush administration Wednesday as she told cheering Democrats that the country needs “a fundamentally new direction.”

Kicking off her re-election bid while continuing to avoid talk of a 2008 presidential run, Clinton said that for the Republican leadership “it is more important to say ‘mission accomplished’ than actually accomplishing the mission.”

“With hard work, we will take our country back,” Clinton told the more than 400 delegates to the Democratic state convention who made her their official designee for the party’s Senate nomination.

Former President Clinton was in the audience but didn’t speak. He got a standing ovation when the former first lady singled him out as “an inspiration, a mentor, a partner.”

They hugged briefly when he joined her on stage following her speech, which was preceded by an 18-minute video praising her work in the Senate.

At a breakfast with supporters and delegates Wednesday morning, the senator noted the strength of New York’s Democratic statewide ticket. She and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, campaigning to replace outgoing GOP Gov. George Pataki, are polling well ahead of their competition.

“When the dust clears in November, New York is going to have a Democratic government from top to bottom, and we’re going to show the rest of the country what that means,” Clinton said.

Supporters urge White House run
Supporters did not share the senator’s reluctance to discuss her presidential prospects.

“Let’s keep Hillary in the United States Senate and near her next home, the White House,” state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told delegates Tuesday.

Republicans were beginning their own two-day state convention Wednesday on Long Island, preparing to authorize a primary between former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer and Reagan-era Pentagon official Kathleen Troia “KT” McFarland for the Senate nomination.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno worked to fire up the relatively subdued crowd of GOP delegates and attendees, warning them not to heed the notion that New York Republicans were “dead in the water.”

“The enemies of New York state are the Democrats,” Bruno declared. “The opposition are the Democrats, not one another.”

Clinton faces a possible Democratic primary in September from anti-Iraq-war activist Jonathan Tasini.

He would have won an automatic spot on the primary ballot with 25 percent of the convention vote, but delegates did not even place his name in nomination. He’ll need signatures from at least 15,000 Democrats to force a primary.

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