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Hillary Says Yes To Letterman

Hillary Rodham Clinton, who said Tuesday she is finalizing plans to formally declare her candidacy for Senate next month, is to appear tonight on David Letterman's show.

The news follows release of a new Marist College poll in which 621 New Yorkers, were asked whether Clinton should go on The Late Show With David Letterman. A resounding 58 percent said yes, reports CBS News Correspondent Diana Olick.

The Clinton campaign denies any connection to the poll. As for her appearance tonight, they said simply she's been intending to do it all along and now that she's moved into her new house, it just seems like the right time.

"She's looking forward to it," her spokesman, Howard Wolfson, said Tuesday after the first lady's long-awaited TV appearance was announced. She's been the butt of Letterman's jokes for months.

On the show Tuesday night it was announced that "after four weeks of constant phone calls," the first lady had agreed to make an appearance.

"Had I known that she was ever going to be on this show, I would have stopped shooting my mouth off weeks ago," Letterman joked.

In the Senate race, Clinton is expected to face New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a regular Letterman guest who has not yet made his candidacy official

The Marist poll shows Clinton has not gained any ground on Giuliani but still trails him by nine points at 40 percent to 49 percent. Those numbers are unchanged from the same poll conducted one month ago. The margin for error, however, is plus or minus four percentage points, so the race remains close.

Fifty-two percent of New Yorkers are pleased she has taken up residence in the Chappaqua house, with 34 percent opposed. But a resounding 80 percent believe the first lady moved to New York for purely political reasons. That is, they do not believe her contention that she would have moved to the state regardless of whether or not she was running for the Senate.

In campaign stops Tuesday, Clinton again questioned whether Giuliani has the proper temperament to get along in the Senate, often described as an exclusive club.

"You want someone who has strong opinions and convictions about what will work for New York, but who knows that everyday is not a pitched battle, that you have to work with people," she said after touring a Tops supermarket in Rochester.

In contrast, she said she has demonstrated her fitness for the job.

"It is something that requires a person who is able to absorb a lot of incoming fire," she said.

At the supermarket, Clinton bought some sliced cheese and turkey from the deli counter. "I'm a cheese person," she explained. She used a $20 bill to pay for her $8.34 purchase, and chatted briefly with the cashier who rang her up.

Clinton also stopped at Rochester's Wilson Commencement Park, a residential center serving welfare mothers and their children, and Hobart and William Smith Collees in Geneva for a forum on community service. The colleges' new president is Mark Gearan, former director of the Peace Corps under President Clinton.

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