Clintons Settle Into New Home
CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. (AP) _ After his first night as a New Yorker, President Clinton said today he is going to make it even more official by registering to vote in the state in time to cast a ballot for his wife in her Senate race this year.
``I’ve got a particular interest in the election and I want to make sure my vote counts,″ the president said as he and Mrs. Clinton paused in front of their new home to talk with reporters.
The Clintons spent Wednesday night in the $1.7 million Dutch colonial house in Westchester County that will be their home after his term expires next January.
``It was a little overwhelming because there is so much to be done,″ Mrs. Clinton said of their first night in their new home. ``We stayed up very late, getting things organized and put away.″
Clinton said the couple, unpacking boxes of belongings, were discovering possessions they hadn’t seen in 17 years, including a table bought shortly after they were married in 1975. ``This is the first home we have had since January 1983 when we moved into the governor’s mansion in Little Rock,″ he said.
``We’re so pleased we’re finally here,″ Hillary Clinton added.
They were heading back to Washington today, and the president was planning to return to the Israeli-Syrian peace talks in Shepherdstown, W.Va.
As they were leaving for the airport today, the Clintons stopped their motorcade to greet neighbors in downtown Chappaqua, shaking hands and talking for 10 minutes outside the fire station. The president strolled across the street to a gas station, where a sidewalk sandwich board read: ``Welcome Hillary and Bill.″
A friend who also lives in Westchester County and has vacationed with the Clintons in Massachusetts brought over home-cooked food for dinner. A crowd of reporters and onlookers were held behind barricades at the top of the Clintons’ new street. A neighbor brought a bottle of champagne, said White House spokesman Joe Lockhart.
While some of the 17,000 residents in upscale Chappaqua have complained about the attention drawn by the Clintons, many seemed eager to greet them.
``I think there’s been some disturbance for the people″ on the Clintons’ street, said Wilma Rapp. ``Other than that, people feel pretty good about the Clintons. You tell somebody you live in Chappaqua and they say, `Oh! Hillary!‴
The town already has had its share of the famous: actor Chevy Chase and actress Glenn Close, and New York Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams.
Initially, Mrs. Clinton, who needs a New York address to run for the U.S. Senate, was scheduled to arrive alone to unpack. An unexpected break in the president’s schedule allowed him to accompany the first lady, Lockhart said.
The Clintons’ furniture and other goods arrived Tuesday afternoon in two moving vans. The president has said they both plan to live in Chappaqua after he leaves office in January 2001.
Even before their arrival, the Clintons had caused several minor stirs.
In September, protesters upset by U.S. policy in East Timor marched outside the home, even though it was still vacant. In November, the government quashed plans to sell T-shirts reading ``Secret Service, Chappaqua Bureau, Presidential Detail,″ saying use of the Secret Service label was illegal.
Local officials soon made parking on the Clintons’ cul-de-sac illegal to spare neighbors any imposition from the media. Authorities also approved installation of an 8-foot fence and a guard booth on the Clintons’ property; neither is yet in place.
New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Mrs. Clinton’s likely Republican opponent in this year’s Senate race, played on the ``carpetbagger″ theme he has used against Mrs. Clinton in offering a backhanded welcome to her and the president.
``I feel very, very proud of the fact that people from around the country want to come to New York, including people from Arkansas,″ Giuliani said. ``We welcome all newcomers, and recognize the fact that they are newcomers.″
Similar sentiments were offered by Gov. George Pataki, another Republican, during his state of the state address in Albany: ``Why, even people from Hope, Arkansas, understand that New York is the best state to live in.″