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Hillary Clinton Is Beginning To Speak Out Like a Candidate

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- SKANEATELES, N.Y.

No longer confining herself to a “listening tour” around the Empire State as she contemplates a bid to succeed Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Hillary Clinton is taking her quest to a new level. On issues local and national, she is beginning to speak out, although offering few specifics.

As she explained at a private fund-raiser in remarks overheard by reporters: “What I’m hearing (New Yorkers) tell me ... is, the issues I care about are the issues voters care about.”

And with gaggles of admirers clamoring for her attention, even in an area where Republicans outnumber Democrats 3-1, she is pressing the flesh with the elan of a veteran office-seeker.

Clinton has been showing off her stump style from the very moment Air Force One landed in nearby Syracuse on Monday. Beaming with delight, the first lady schmoozed for nearly an hour with 2,300 welcomers at the Hancock International Airport.

With husband and daughter in tow, she then went straight to the New York State Fair, where she cuddled babies, gulped down two glasses of chocolate milk, posed for snapshots, signed autographs, yukked it up with well-wishers, then left with a container of home-grown chicken and apples.

On Wednesday, en route from their borrowed lakeside house to visit historic sites in the area, the First Couple stopped in the picturesque village of Skaneateles for tea and coffee, and again mingled with well-wishers before moving on. Thursday, Clinton is scheduled to attend two more fund-raisers.

Although Clinton’s quest seems to be generating generally positive reviews, it remains to be seen whether the initial shows of support will translate into votes in 2000, should she run.

A spokesman for Clinton’s exploratory committee said she may not announce a formal decision until early next year.

Surveys Show Decline in Sexual Activity Among Teens

LOS ANGELES TIMES

As the age gap between puberty and marriage has grown over the years, most sex educators have come to see sexual activity among young people as inevitable. Recent surveys, however, report that previously unprecedented rates of sexual activity among teen-agers have started to drop. Now, less than half of all high school students have had sex. In 1998, the average age of first intercourse was 16.3, up from 15.8 in 1997, according to the Durex Global Survey. Teen pregnancies, abortions and births also have declined. On the other hand, 3 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases are diagnosed among teen-agers each year, and half of all new HIV cases occur among those under age 25.

“In general,” says sex educator Lynda Madaras, “kids today who have it together, have it a lot more together. But a lot more kids are slipping through the cracks than ever before.”

Contrary to popular images, teen sex is rarely sexy, Madaras says. Some have sex to be popular, to achieve status, or to prove they’re not gay. “For most kids,” Madaras says, “having sex is like holding their nose and jumping into an ice cold pool.”