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As part of her tour of the Ithaca region, Sen. Clinton attended a banquet kicking off New York’s Democratic Rural Conference where, among other things, she gave a speech criticizing the administration. She also won a Senate straw poll with 126 votes to nine votes for Jonathan Tasini, a labor activist and anti-war candidate.

State Comptroller Alan Hevesi had the crowd of more than 300 laughing, cheering and applauding as he called for them to send Hillary back to the Senate, because “[w]e have to get out and make sure she is re-elected to that two-year term.”

The crowd obviously got the joke about Hillary not serving her entire six years if she wins the presidency in 2008. But the joke may be on them, as only two incumbent senators have ever been elected president: Republican Warren Harding in 1920 and Democrat John Kennedy in 1960.

Since then, dozens of senators have tried to capture their party’s nomination, and four senators ended up being bridesmaids in November. So it’s entirely possible Hillary will indeed serve out her entire six year term even if she becomes her party’s nominee in 2008, unless she resigns her seat, a la Bob Dole in 1996, to demonstrate to the American people her complete dedication to winning the White House.

If she did so, the likely New York governor would be current state Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer, who would then be able to appoint her Democratic replacement. Of course, the idea of Hillary voluntarily relinquishing power is about as far-fetched as the Republicans putting a strong candidate up against her in November.