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No N.Y. residence -- yet -- for first lady

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- The morning after she faced protesters with "carpetbagger go home" signs, could-be Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday she hasn't yet secured a New York residence but is "going around collecting offers of people's guest rooms and extra beds and pull-out couches."

The first lady -- on her 11th trip to New York and her first since she announced she would form an exploratory committee to pay for early campaign forays -- denied reports that she's buying or leasing a home in New York."I have heard so many stories about apartments and houses that I've bought, and I only wish that were true, but that hasn't happened yet," she told NBC's "Today" show.

She was asked whether she was bound to make the race now that Rep. Nita Lowey, the only other Democrat publicly mulling a run for the Senate seat being vacated in 2000 by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has bowed out.

"I think a Democrat will win this Senate race, and I'm looking forward to going out and listening to New Yorkers and just having a good time, to be honest," the first lady replied. On the stops she made here and in New York City Wednesday, she said, "I learned a lot, I saw a lot of people and I had a great experience, and I'm going to be doing a lot of that in July and August."

She took a jab at Republicans, saying the way they've handled gun control legislation this week only proves that the Democratic Party "is much more in touch with the mainstream -- not only of America, but particularly of New York."

With about three dozen demonstrators shouting from across the street outside a Lockheed Martin plant she had visited near Binghamton, Hillary Clinton told reporters Wednesday that such protests were simply a "fact of political life."

Clinton, born in Illinois and a former first lady of Arkansas, has never lived or worked in New York.

Inside the plant, she told about 40 employees, handpicked by company officials for a discussion about job creation and other economic issues, that the nation has been so successful "because of people who have been willing to try new things."

"There are too many people locked into old thinking. We are all such prisoners of our past," the first lady said.

A Senate race could pit Clinton against Republican New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who formed an exploratory committee in April.