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President comes to town to campaign for Hillary

Speaking before enthusiastic members of Democratic clubs and political workers at the packed Electric Industry Center on Parsons Boulevard, Clinton lavished praise on the senate candidate, heralding what he described as her commitment to children and families, affordable health care, the environment, and schools.

"She's worked for 30 years on things that you need someone to work on for New York in Washington," he said, echoing a get-out-the-vote campaign that was repeated by all of the eight speakers who took the podium Monday night. "I may be biased, but I know more about this than anybody else."

Greeting the crowd with wide eyes and a huge smile, Hillary Clinton touted the borough as the most diverse place in the world.

"We are right here at the center of diversity of the universe when we're here in Queens," she told the crowd. "When I walk down the street anywhere in Queens, I feel I am truly at the center of everything important that is happening in the world today."

She said she would work to bring more federal funding to the borough's schools, which are among the most crowded in the state.

"There is no place in New York that needs more federal help for public education than Queens," she said.

The latest in a number of campaign stops Hillary Clinton has made in Queens, the $50-a-head hard-money fund-raiser Monday at times resembled a religious rally, complete with spirited speakers and a foot-stomping, chanting crowd that rose to its feet waving blue and red "Hillary 2000" signs in the cavernous meeting hall.

"I don't know how I'm going to tell my rabbi, but I feel saved," said U.S. Rep Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), who followed U.S. Rep Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans). Meeks left the crowd in awe after a preacher-like address.

Sponsored by the Queens County Democratic Organization, the fund-raiser generated about $75,000 for Clinton's senate campaign against Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Lazio (R-Brightwaters). The themes of the rally focused on getting Queens voters to turn out for Hillary Clinton in the senate race and Vice President Al Gore and U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman in the presidential election.

Hillary Clinton is likely to be aided substantially by votes in Queens, largely a Democratic stronghold. But Democratic leaders are taking nothing for granted, emphasizing that voter turnout would be key in what is expected to be a tight race.

The president, speaking just before the first lady, recounted several personal anecdotes about his experiences in Queens.

He recalled taking the subway to the same meeting hall when he was a candidate in 1992, seeking the endorsement of the Queens County Democratic Organization. Laughing at his own conspicuousness at being "a guy with a funny accent," Clinton said he felt at home in Queens once he met a man who said he was born in Hope, the same Arkansas town as Clinton was.

Arriving in the borough Monday night, the president stopped for a bite to eat at the small Jackson Hole Diner off the Grand Central Parkway near LaGuardia Airport, where he ordered a cheeseburger with the works and played Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel" on the table jukebox.

He urged Queens voters to turn out in strong numbers to vote for the Democratic ticket, saying the borough's future depended on it.

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