For Clinton, what a difference six years makes

Six years ago, &to=' target=_blank>Hillary Rodham Clinton was being roasted as a carpetbagger from Illinois and Arkansas via the White House who would get her comeuppance at the hands of the mayor of New York City. Today, she appears to be coasting to a 2006 Senate re-election victory that could set her up for a White House run two years later.

"It's the difference between night and day," said Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson on Tuesday. "It's the difference between being a sitting first lady running in a state she had never lived in, to being a successful senator representing New York."

Independent polls have shown Clinton with solid approval ratings and far ahead of the potential Republican competition. She also has a ton of money in the bank _ about $14 million (Ђ11.74 million) as of the end of September.

It also doesn't hurt that the state's tumultuous Republicans don't have a Rudolph Giuliani-like candidate waiting to take her on, the way they did for a while in 2000. The Republicans can't agree on a candidate, period.

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