NEW YORK - Rudy Giuliani yesterday handed out presents and read a Christmas story to Harlem youngsters, then talked about what, for him, might be the best gift of all.

"I'm perfectly healthy. I don't have cancer," the Republican presidential contender told reporters after reading "A Visit From St. Nicholas" to more than a dozen children at Hale House, a residence for needy children. More journalists than children were crammed into the tiny room.

Giuliani, who was treated for prostate cancer seven years ago, was briefly hospitalized last week in St. Louis after suffering what he described as a severe headache. He canceled some events but was back campaigning in New Hampshire over the weekend, declaring he had gotten a clean bill of health.

The former New York mayor reiterated that message yesterday, saying that his PSA level - a test for prostate cancer - was measured three weeks ago and was "zero or negligible." High levels can indicate cancer.

Giuliani said his doctor would issue a full report after the holidays.

Giuliani's bout with cancer led him to drop his campaign in 2000 for the U.S. Senate seat eventually won by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

- AP

Clinton, teacher: An Iowa reunion

DONNELLSON, Iowa - An amazing coincidence the other day on the campaign trail in Iowa with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The New York senator was in Donnellson as part of a broad statewide tour in what's become a very tight Democratic caucus race.

At a campaign forum in the fire station, a caucus site come Jan. 3, Clinton was asked about her religious faith. Practicing Methodist, she responded, adding, "I'm often asked if I'm a praying person, and I am a praying person. My father prayed at his bedside every night, and we prayed at the table over dinner."

Then someone pointed out that Clinton's childhood Sunday school teacher, Rosalie Bentzinger, happened to be in the audience. The Sunday school teacher stood up. Clinton rushed over. They hugged.

Bentzinger, 84, gave Clinton a photograph she happened to have with her. And Clinton announced, "She has a picture of my confirmation class - March 27, 1959."

Clinton aides said they were unaware the teacher was in the crowd.

- Los Angeles Times