The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 25, 1996 · Page 23
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 23

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Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Friday, October 25, 1996
Page:
Page 23
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THE SALINA JOURNAL CAMPAIGN 96: PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES FRIDAY. OCTOBER 25, 1996 C7 Bill Clinton is a charming, fun-loving guy who likes to stay up late and doesn't forget his pals By RON FOURNIER 77ie Associated Press L ITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Spotting an old friend deep in a crowd of rambunctious Democrats, Bill Clinton puts his hand to his ear and pretends to make a telephone call. Ignoring the rest of the audience, he flicks his wrist a half dozen times to deal an imaginary hand of cards. The message: Call me. Let's play. "I called," David Leopoulos said later. "And, man, did we Play." The computer software salesman, who grew up with Clinton in Hot Springs, Ark., said he and two other childhood chums stayed up until 2 a.m. playing hearts with the president of the United States. For Clinton, it was a perfect night at ease: old friends and friendly competition. His pals will tell you the president is a hoot to be around, a fun-loving guy who loves sports, expensive unlit cigars, fast cars and juicy gossip. He lounges around the' house in jogging clothes, sometimes matching. Clinton yells at the TV during sporting events and sings off-key at church. He jogs and plays golf to relax. He collects political buttons. He reads three or four books at a time — and nags his friends to read them when he's done. The president gently un- tial play-by-play — "Clubs are gone. ... What kind of lead is that?" — distracts and intimidates new players. He counts cards and pounces at every mistake. Little Rock lawyer Victor Fleming knows the president only as a doting father to Chelsea, now 16. He chuckles at the thought of Clinton wearing an Indian vest and headband to their daughters' "Indian Princess" meetings. Much has been said and written about Bill Clinton the man. He eats too much and sleeps too little. He's powerful, political, earnest and energetic — relatively young and handsome. But what would you think if you got to know him? Chances are the first impression would be terrific. He is a seductive conversationalist, the kind of man who locks eyes and hands on a new acquaintance and makes you feel like nobody is more important. His soft, beefy right hand grabs your^ — his left hand resting atop the handshake for a double-barreled hello. He nods his head with your every point: "Right ... Exactly ... I know." And at his most charming, he might yoke a heavy arm around your neck in a best- buddy embrace. "He is one of the most attentive, intensive listeners I've ever known," said Blair, a friend since the 1970s. But don't be surprised if his blue eyes suddenly dart over your shoulder. Somebody more compelling might be standing behind you — a congressman, a corporate head, a flashy Hollywood star. "He's always looking for the next conversational conquest," said another longtime friend. But Staley, who grew up next door to Clinton in Hot Springs, Ark., said he still phones and writes. He hand-delivered dried flowers when she broke her collarbone in 1980, called wrarv? nrpspnK so the naner . > ^ ~ ,_,*/•»••* twice when her father died and Tan be ?eS He used to buv With 3 C '9 ar clenched in nis teetn ' President Clinton wrote a $1 OQO check _ unso . his shoes at a discount self- watches his tee shot while golfing last spring. Friends Hcited - when the Staley pho- serve store in Arkansas — one sa V ne loves expensive, unlit cigars and fast cars. tography business went sour. black pair, one brown pair. "That's all anyone needs," he'd say. Clinton paged Diane Blair on a recent Sunday morning. "Help me, Diane," he said after she called the White House. "How did you finish the ... crossword?" "I didn't finish," admitted Blair. A few hours later, her fax machine spit out a copy of Clinton's crossword — completed in pen. "He likes to get it done before anybody else," she said. Competitive? Try playing hearts with the man. The steady, buzz of presiden- Carolyn Staley remembers Clinton donning a scary mask at Chelsea's Halloween party and crawling inside a play house. "Tell the kids to knock on the door," he whispered. "And see what happens." Not much for jokes, Clinton roars with laughter at funny stories about daily life and politics. Beneath his generally jovial front lies a quick temper — though associates say they see less of it now. Clinton's mother got a call from her eldest son every Sunday night until the day she died. The Clintons frequently open their home to old pals from Arkansas and newer friends from Washington and Hollywood, including lobbyist Vernon Jordan and TV producer Harry Thomason. They talk long into the night about politics and policy, play cards or watch movies in the spacious White House movie theater. Clinton also jettisoned several old Photos by The Associated Press Members of the first family, (from left) Chelsea, Hillary and Bill Clinton, share a laugh as they watch elk graze in Yellowstone National Park while on vacation in August. The president's pals say he's a hoot to be around. friends to dodge political trouble. Some "That doesn't make sense," Blair ob- say he uses friends and acquaintances un- jects. "What good is David Leopoulos to til their political usefulness evaporates. him" politically? Bob Dole is a plain-spoken sweater guy who's the first one up and is always there lending support By SANDRA SOBIERAJ The Associated Press W ASHINGTON — When :he Hanford family draws lames for Christmas presents, there is one every- aody dreads: Bob, the brother-in-law. Uncle Bob. Bob Dole. "You don't want to get him clothes, and you're not sure about the electronic gear he already has," explains John Hanford, the older brother of Dole's wife, Elizabeth. "He has an aide to take care of stuff because of his disability, so that rules out briefcases, portfolios, memo books," Hanford says. But in most ways the man who wants to be president is like any other brother-in-law. He's a house guest on holiday weekends — the early riser who ventures downstairs fully dressed, heading first for the newspaper and then for breakfast. Well maybe not "fully" dressed for a candidate, as in button-down shirt and jacket. Around family, Hanford confides, "Bob's a sweater man." The longtime Kansas legislator, now Republican presidential nominee, has been known as Majority Leader in the Senate, as Beltway Insider, even as Richard Nixon's Hatchet Man. But Sweater Man? It's the personal side of Dole known only to family and a handful of decades- old friends. And, while he is described in superlatives as a loyal and thoughtful man, a sweater is as warm and fuzzy as this stoic Russell, Kan., native gets. "He's somebody you just know is there — supportive but not cloying. He's not a Chatty Cathy," says Sheila Burke, Dole's closest adviser and a 19- year veteran of his Senate office. It was there that she received a phone call in 1989 that her father died. Dole found her at her desk and laid a quiet hand on her shoulder. "What can we do? Help you get a plane ticket? Give you a ride home? Get Clowning around In his hometown of Russell, Kan., Bob Dole leans over so that friends sitting next door to his sister's house can see him wave during a visit In August. He and his wife, Elizabeth, watch television together to relax. you to the airport?" Burke recalls Dole asking. It was, like most of Dole's gestures, generous and sincere — and ever-practical. Over the years, Dole's mother-in-law, Mary Cathey Hanford, reaped the Bob Dole talks with young Republicans In May on the beach outside his condominium at Bal Harbour, Fla. spoils of his pragmatic thoughtfulness in the form of a dishwasher, microwave and toaster oven. Kansas City steaks and fruit were Dole's most memorable Christmas gifts to longtime confidante Tom Korologos, who describes their friendship as a comfortable, unspoken pact. If they're on a plane together and Dole wants peanuts, he hands over the foil sack. Korologos opens it and hands it back without a word to the man whos'e right arm was shattered in World War II. And if a friend isn't there to help? "He'll get along without the peanuts. He doesn't want to trouble people and he doesn't want to broadcast his disability," said Korologos, a lobbyist who's known Dole since the Nixon days and is a frequent guest of the Doles for Sunday brunch. Those brunches at Washington hotels are the most socializing Dole and his wife do. They guard their off-hours at home — often spent watching television — and do very little entertaining in their cramped Watergate apartment. With little patience for deep-thinking philosophic rambles, Dole talks in shorthand to friends and staff alike. Russ Townsley, publisher of Dole's hometown newspaper, who has known him for nearly 50 years, remembers the two of them settling down after dinner with news magazines while their wives washed dishes: "He'd mention something, I'd have some kind of comeback, then we'd go on reading." Another kind of silence meets friends who curse in front of Dole — or venture an off-color joke. "You do it at your own peril," warns Korologos. "They don't go over. You get a cold, icy stare." Without grandchildren of his own, Dole studiously remembers each of his nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews on their high school graduation with $50 tucked inside a personally signed Hallmark card. Back in Russell, sisters Gloria and Norma Jean are remembered on every birthday and Christmas with more cards and more money, "so we can go out and get something we need," says Gloria. The sisters reciprocate with Dole's sentimental favorites — homemade ice cream, fried chicken and pickled eggs — whenever he sweeps into town. The last time was in August, when Dole announced Jack Kemp as his running mate. Making a special trip to the family home that Dole still owns, Gloria arranged for red roses to greet him from an ancient white vase on the hall table. It was the same white vase that held the red roses 2nd Lt. Robert J. Dole had wired to his mother more than 50 years ago from his Army post. "He had tears in his eyes when he saw it there," Gloria said. "I knew he would, because it's a touch of Mom."

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