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FIRST LADY ALL BUT ANNOUNCES HER INTENTION TO RUN FOR SENATE

Hillary Rodham Clinton may not be an official U.S. Senate candidate yet, but on Saturday she seemed to drop any pretense that she would not be in the race.

"I want you to know that if I was leaning any more toward it, I would fall over right in front of you," she told a crowd chanting "Run, Hillary, run" in Albany's Washington Park.

She used the same line in a pseudo-campaign speech to the Schenectady County Democratic Committee, which was the first such organization to endorse her possible candidacy back in April.

"The kind of candidate I would be, the kind of senator I would be is one who would represent the entire state and everyone who lives here," she told cheering Democrats in the Schenectady Museum.

In New York City, meanwhile, about 100 Republicans held a "Go Home, Hillary" rally Saturday on Fifth Avenue, passing out fliers critical of the first lady and selling buttons showing a red slash across a picture of her face.

Protesters held placards reading "Hillary, you can't Buffalo New York," "She's honest? She doesn't bake cookies, she manufactures lies," and "Hillary, you've blamed everyone but Elvis."

The rally was sponsored by the Women's National Republican Club.

During her appearances Saturday, the first lady refused to answer questions from reporters.

The appearances included watching a labor parade in downtown Albany and visiting Saratoga Springs to welcome Jamienne Studley, who spent five years with the U.S. Education Department before being named president of Skidmore College in June.

Clinton is eyeing the Senate seat being vacated next year by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a fellow Democrat, but has never directly said she would enter in the race. On the Republican side, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is considering running for the Senate seat.

As the first lady's exploratory committee approaches its fourth month of conducting statewide "listening tours," several New York Democrats are telling her that it's time to stop listening and start running.

With the election less than 14 months away, some Democrats are urging her to adopt a more formal campaign approach.

"People want to know whether she is a candidate or not," said Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., chairman of the statewide Council of Black Elected Democrats. "There's no structure in this campaign yet, so right now, we don't know."

Meeks and other Democrats say they will convey their concerns to Clinton on Monday when she meets with the group in Brooklyn.

"If you're running for statewide office, the time is now to consider who the campaign manager will be, whether or not you'll adopt a regional concept, who the coordinators will be and where you'll put offices," Rep. Edolphus Towns of Brooklyn said. "If you're running for statewide office in New York, it takes 1 1/2 years to do it, which is why everybody is getting anxious and eager for her to step up."

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