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Clintons Shop For Mortgage

President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton have abandoned plans to accept a friend's loan guarantee and are seeking a conventional mortgage for the $1.7 million home they want to buy in suburban New York, a source said Saturday.

The Clintons hope to complete a new financing arrangement by Nov. 1, their original closing date, said the source, who is familiar with the Clinton's financial planning and who spoke on condition of anonymity.

They were reported to be considering options from several lending institutions to enable them to purchase the five-bedroom home in Chappaqua, N.Y., about an hour north of New York City. Mrs. Clinton is considering a Senate run from New York in 2000 and must establish residency before Election Day.

Under the original financing plan, the Clintons agreed to use their own money for the $350,000 down payment. Terry McAuliffe, a Clinton friend and one of his chief fund raisers, put up $1.35 million as collateral to guarantee the money the Clintons are borrowing.

The Clintons and the White House said there was nothing illegal or unethical with the arrangement.

But public interest groups and some Republican said the arrangement was troubling and improper because of McAuliffe's political ties with the Democratic party.

A conservative group, in a complaint filed Sept. 10 with the Federal Election Commission, alleged that personal loans and guarantees for personal loans have always been treated the same as campaign contributions and are subject to the same $1,000 limit.

An FEC spokeswoman, while not commenting on the complaint itself, said generally the law mandates that loans and loan guarantees for candidates are subject to campaign limits if they are related to the campaign.

The Conservative Campaign Fund contends that because Mrs. Clinton must establish residency in the state to run for a Senate seat the home loan was campaign related.

McAuliffe was quoted in Saturday's editions of The Washington Post as saying, "I'm there if the president and first lady need me. However, at the end of the day, if the guarantee is not needed, I'm sure there will be plenty of people to help me figure out how to spend my money - including a few Democratic politicians."