Clinton Jogs, Then Pays Sober Visit to Kennedy Gravesites With PM-Inaugural Rdp Bjt
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Bill Clinton is mixing the sober and the celebratory in his buildup to Inauguration Day, paying an early-morning visit to the gravesites of Robert and John Kennedy after a evening round of partying.
Clinton was up early on Inauguration Eve for a jog through the streets of Washington followed by a private visit to Arlington Cemetery with his wife, Hillary, where they were joined by members of the Kennedy family.
The president-elect, who seems to fit in with any crowd, schmoozed both the meek and the mighty on Monday. After an emotional lunch-time reunion with individuals whose stories had touched him during the campaign, Clinton donned black-tie finery and popped in on four $1,500-a-plate dinners for bigwigs from business and government.
Today’s inaugural itinerary featured more activities with people of all stripes, including lunch with the nation’s governors, productions saluting the nation’s youth and a black-tie evening gala.
In an unscheduled visit to the cemetery, the Clintons placed a single white rose at the grave of Robert Kennedy. Then Clinton alone walked to the eternal flame at John Kennedy’s grave, kneeled and bowed his head.
It was a moment rich in symbolism for the president-elect, who visited John Kennedy’s White House as a young boy eager to be involved in national service.
Clinton, his voice already showing signs of strain, also built plenty of free time into his schedule to rehearse for Wednesday’s inaugural speech, in which he will address the nation for the first time as president.
At Monday’s ″Faces of Hope″ luncheon, Clinton was the consummate defender of the everyday American, paying tribute to 53 individuals whose courage in the face of adversity had impressed him during the campaign.
Mission one was putting his nervous luncheon guests at ease.
″Ya’ll sit down. Relax,″ he drawled to guests who had jumped to attention as he entered the ornate dining hall at the Folger Library.
Clinton pledged to the guests that he and Vice President-elect Al Gore would ″remember who sent us here,″ then got in a poke at just the sort of high rollers he would visit later that night.
″I’ll remember that this town, which gets so caught up in itself, and who’s in and who’s out, who’s up and who’s down, and the gossip that’s in the paper every day about the manipulations of power, doesn’t amount to one hill of beans unless we are spending all the money that you send us to try to help deal with your problems in an honest and forthright way,″ he said.
Monday night, the Clintons touched down briefly at each of the four dinners. The president-elect thanked supporters and promised he would try to justify their faith in him over the next four years.
In the crowd at one dinner was black South African leader Nelson Mandela, and Clinton reached out to shake his hand.
Clinton had set his every-man tone at daybreak with a jog down Pennsylvania Avenue in which he waved to passersby and workers putting final touches on inaugural parade reviewing stands.
Then he paid a nostalgic visit to his alma mater, Georgetown University, to greet the Washington diplomatic corps and address about 1,000 students, faculty and alumni on a lawn near his old dormitory.
He also worked in a visit to Howard University, the nation’s premier historically black university, for a ceremony to honor slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Clinton swayed and sang gospel songs and the civil rights anthem, ″We Shall Overcome.″