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Barbara Bush Attends R.I. Fund Raisers

June 14, 1989

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Barbara Bush won senior citizens’ hearts and charmed guests at fund-raisers for a Republican congresswoman in a whirlwind visit to Rhode Island.

Mrs. Bush arrived at T.F. Green State Airport around 11:30 a.m., attended two fund-raisers at a hotel for Rep. Claudine Schneider, visited a senior citizens center in suburban Cranston and left shortly after 2 p.m.

About 30 people waited outside the Omni Biltmore hotel for a glimpse of the popular first lady, but the Secret Service forced them out from under an awning and into the rain to make room for her entourage.

Mrs. Bush told about 700 people who paid $150 to $1,000 apiece to attend the fund raisers about her husband’s programs and her campaign for literacy, but didn’t mention the campaign Miss Schneider is contemplating against Sen. Claiborne Pell, D-R.I., next year.

Asked about the potential Pell-Schneider contest at a hotel news conference, Mrs. Bush initially ducked the issue. ″I like her just where she is today,″ the first lady said.

A few minutes later, she said, ″Claudine Schneider is qualified for anything. ... I’m just not going to fool around in the internal politics of Rhode Island. She can be anything.″

The 42-year-old congresswoman was first elected to Congress in 1980, and has built a reputation as an environmental advocate. She has yet to declare her plans for 1990.

The fund raisers raised about $170,000, said Schneider spokeswoman Bob Rendine.

At the Cranston Senior Services center, about two dozen schoolchildren and a handful of adults awaited Mrs. Bush, but the most they got was a glimpse of her red suit and trademark triple strand of fake pearls.

Her folksy, down-to-earth personality, though, won rave reviews from senior citizens.

″There’s no airs about her. I think she’s great,″ Rose Cirelli of Cranston said as she watched Mrs. Bush join about 20 people dancing to the tune, ″New York, New York.″

Mrs. Bush was less successful as she took several shots with a pool cue in the center’s pool room.

″Do I have to call a ball?″ she asked.

″No, you have executive privilege,″ a player replied.

After missing an easy shot, Mrs. Bush turned and said, ″You ought to see me on the tennis court.″