NEW YORK — It started off as a joke: If Hillary Rodham Clinton was going to run for the United States Senate in New York, then Mayor Rudolph Giuliani would go run in Arkansas.
Now, the joke is taking on a life of its own: Come July, the mayor will be packing a suitcase for a fund-raiser in Little Rock.
As the mayor tells the story, he wondered how the people of Arkansas would react to an outsider, someone who knew nothing about the state, arriving and asking them for their votes.
But then something better happened: Lt. Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller called to invite him to the Clintons' home state.
Once he gets to Arkansas, Mr. Giuliani says he would like to be a tourist - he particularly wants to find the Whitewater River. "I've heard a lot about the Whitewater River and we don't know if this is a fictional, mythological place or a real place, but I'm hoping it's a real place and we can do a press conference - live! - right from the Whitewater River."
Sorry, mayor, but the Whitewater River really does not exist. "Whitewater" was a failed land development, located on the White River.
However, if Giuliani wants to drive two hours north of Little Rock, he might still find the property and some water running over some rocks. And the people of Arkansas, who have seen just about everything, will just chuckle if he holds a press conference. "He'll find the people of Arkansas have a good sense of humor," says Rob Dennie, an aide to Mr. Rockefeller.
Well, maybe not that good. In Washington, Mrs. Clinton's press secretary, Marsha Berry, says the first lady's office has no comment.