Clinton opts for a subdued Inaugural

Less cost, glitz for 3-day event

The Washington Times
December 5, 1996
By Paul Bedard
The Washington Times

President Clinton has developed a case of humility in his march toward Inauguration Day. While his Inaugural committee is still drawing up plans for the abbreviated three-day event, everyone involved agrees the ceremonies will be modest compared to the four-day, $25 million, fireworks- and party-filled 1993 festival that embarrassed some as too extravagant and self- absorbed.

White House spokesman Barry Toiv said, "Given the fact that this is the second Inauguration, it will be a bit smaller.... The president is no longer a new president. He doesn't need an introduction, so to speak."

Said David Seldin of the Presidential Inaugural Committee: "It's going to be a little more subdued.

Another aide working on the president's second Inauguration said: "It's going to be a little different this time, no extravaganza like in '93. It will be a little more humbling with only a few events, not the festival and fireworks like before."

White House officials said, the president plans to attend a US Air Arena gala concert the night before his Jan. 20 Inauguration and may speak Jan. 18 at the Lincoln or Jefferson memorial.

They said the president and first lady also plan to stroll down part of Pennsylvania Avenue after the noon swearing-in on the south steps of the Capitol.

But there are no plans yet to repeal 1993's open house at the White House on the day after the Inauguration or the nonstop parties that filled Washington hotels.

"It will be elegant and inclusive:' Mr. ~I~iv said of the inaugural events. "It will be something that the American people will enjoy watching and participating in."'

Mr. Clinton's first Inaugural was markedly dozens of special events and parties spread over four days. The highlight was the former Arkansas governor's "buscapade" from Thomas Jefferson's Monticello estate to commemorate the 1800 Inauguration of the Clinton idol.

The Clintons also hosted a Lincoln Memorial concert and fireworks Jan. 17 and USAir Arena gala concerts Jan. 18-19 before his Jan. 20 Inauguration.

The upcoming Inaugural is being organized by the Presidential Inaugural Committee and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes. His group has yet to settle on all the details of the three-day event, and has not received Mr. Clinton's support for the plans so far.

Mr. Clinton, meanwhile, has been focused on picking members of his new national security team and developing a budget and do- mestic policy plan that will help create a legacy for his eight years in office.

The Inaugural plans are "important but not on top of his to-do list," said an administration official.

But the Inaugural committe still hopes to unveil its plans today at a press conference.

"It's still jelling," said Mr. Toiv.

Despite the lack of a clear plan for the three days, the National Park Service, the D.C. government and architect of the Capitol's office are moving ahead with expectations that podiums and reviewing stands will have to be built at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Construction of the president's parade-reviewing stand on Pennsylvania Avenue began this week. About 25 carpenters are putting up walls and stands for the media and the president's guests.

The White House project is being supervised by the D.C. Department of Public Works. Structural branch chief Andrew Lee said the reviewing stand has to be completed by Jan. 18 "or we'll have to ask Mr. Clinton to stand in the cold for the parade.

His boss, Sam Jordan, director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness, said that the city is using past plans to map out the upcoming Inaugural.

"You just don't wait four years to plan this stuff. We're planning based on history:' he said.

Mr. Jordan added that the White House has decided to open Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House for the Inaugural Parade.

The administration, over city objections, closed the three-block section of the avenue from 15th Street to 17th Street on May 20, 1995, after the bombing of a Oklahoma City federal building and attacks directed at the White House.