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CLINTON SPENDS BOTH TIME, MONEY GETTING INTO THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

SHARE CLINTON SPENDS BOTH TIME, MONEY GETTING INTO THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

President Clinton mixed traditional Christmas Eve activities with official duties Saturday, slipping out for some last-minute shopping and taking time to salute members of the armed services stationed far from home.

The president gave thanks for peace in his weekly radio address, released a videotaped Christmas message to the nation and telephoned 10 members of the military on duty everywhere from Cameroon to Croatia."This holiday season, one of the greatest blessings of all is that our nation is at peace, freedom is on the march and the world is a safer place than it was a year ago," Clinton said in his radio address.

The president also slipped out for the second day in a row to take care of some last-minute Christmas shopping, this time accompanied by his 14-year-old daughter, Chelsea. They spent three hours browsing stores, their first stop a bookshop specializing in mysteries, and emerged toting several packages.

First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, in a taped interview airing Saturday night on CNN's "Larry King Weekend," said the family's traditional Christmas Eve would include finishing the decorations on their tree and baking chocolate chip cookies.

The family entertains some 30,000 official guests during the holiday season but turns its attention to relatives and close friends when all the formal parties are over. Family members from around the country were joining the Clintons at the White House.

In his radio address, Clinton gave an upbeat review of U.S. efforts to promote peace around the world.

"I'm proud of our accomplishments to turn conflict into cooperation, to transform fear into security, to replace hatred with hope," he said.