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Fifty floors above Manhattan, a room full of Republican women listened to McCaughey Ross call Constance Cook, a former Republican legislator who sponsored legalized abortion in New York in 1970, one of her personal heroes. "These are choices a woman must be free to make with her physician, her family and her conscience," McCaughey Ross told the audience.
Speculation abounds to explain the daily soap opera that's swirled around McCaughey Ross in the past few weeks. First there were months of spotty controversy - she told the truth when U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato made a sexist remark to her at the `21' Club in Manhattan, forcing him and other powerful Republicans to backpedal on their denials; she sparred with state Republican Chairman Bill Powers over who should chair the Republican Party in Queens; then she stood instead of sitting through the governor's State of the State address in January, which caused her face to tower above the governor's on TV and in news photos.
A poll done by Zogby's group recently showed that more people would vote for McCaughey Ross than D'Amato, even though a number of those asked identified Betsy McCaughey Ross as the woman who sewed the American Flag. But the poll also shows why D'Amato could fear or hate McCaughey Ross enough to want to do her in. "It's not like George Pataki. It's like Alfonse to be doing this kind of stuff," said one high-level source.