Bush fans to hold an Inaugural Bawl For many, today is heartbreaking INAUGURATION 1993

January 20, 1993|By Karen Hosler | Karen Hosler,Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- The last Bush official to leave the White House today figures he'll walk down the driveway to the Pennsylvania Avenue gate and turn in his pass about 11.45 a.m. -- in plenty of time to catch a great view of Bill Clinton leading his inaugural parade.

"But I'm certainly not going to go sit in the bleachers and watch," exclaimed Sean Walsh, an assistant White House press secretary.

Mr. Walsh, 29, came to work for President Bush six years ago as a college intern and grew particularly close to the president during many weekends at Camp David when he was the only aide on duty. For him and most other longtime Bush associates, the ritual transfer of power that the United States celebrates today is a heartbreaking experience.

"It's almost like losing a war -- your country is taken over and you become a refugee," Mr. Walsh said.

While Mr. Clinton is taking the oath of office and giving his inaugural address, Mr. Walsh and his wife, Kim, 28, who is also losing her job today as deputy press secretary to Vice President Dan Quayle, will be treating themselves to lunch in a nice restaurant. Then they are going home.

Not all Republicans plan to mope. Eddie Mahe, a GOP political consultant, sent out 250 invitations to a soiree tonight he's calling an "Inaugural Bawl."

"It's just to have a little fun," said Mr. Mahe, who held a similar affair in 1977 following the inauguration of Jimmy Carter, the last Democratic president.

But at the White House and at the Republican National Committee headquarters, many of the invitations were simply tossed out, according to B. Jay Cooper, the committee's communications director

"There aren't a lot of people who feel like going to a party," he said. "We just don't have the heart for it."

"But it's going to be a sad experience for many of us to watch a new president be sworn in," said Mr. Cooper, who served more than a year at the Bush White House working as deputy press secretary. "Everyone involved with the [Bush] administration knew the president personally, and it's going to be particularly sad to see him and Mrs. Bush leave."

Mr. Bush has put out the word that there is to be no fuss made over him today.

He told friends and aides he does not want a big farewell scene at Andrews Air Force Base, where he will take off one last time in the presidential jet. The president also made clear he doesn't want a big reception waiting for him at the airport in Houston.

"He's been very adamant that he doesn't want a big deal," said Ron Kaufman, the White House political director, who wanted to whip up a send-off crowd of 15,000 or so. "I've been held in check."

Even so, many Bush aides say they'll make the trek out to Andrews today anyway, just to watch the president wave good-bye.

Mr. Bush is taking a few longtime aides on the plane to Houston with him as a final treat.

They include campaign aides, such as Mr. Kaufman, Transportation Secretary Andrew Card and lawyer David Bates, who have been with Mr. Bush a dozen years or more; as well as press secretary Marlin Fitzwater and Brent Scowcroft, Mr. Bush's national security adviser and closest aide. James A. Baker III, Mr. Bush's secretary of state, last chief of staff and friend of 30 years, will also be aboard.

"I'm really looking forward to it," said Mr. Kaufman, who served Mr. Bush on and off the payroll for 14 years. "But it's going to be very emotional. Like that last day of the campaign when we had the Oak Ridge Boys on board singing, "Amazing Grace."

Even sadder, no doubt, will be the return trip when Mr. Kaufman and the rest of the Washington contingent ride the jet alone back to Andrews, where the blue, white and gold deluxe 747 airliner will be put into service for Mr. Clinton.

Other Republicans plan to spend this day of great Democratic celebration just lying low.

William J. Bennett, a Cabinet official in both the Bush and Reagan administrations, is traveling to Atlanta to give a speech to an egg and poultry association.

Walter H. Kansteiner III, chief spokesman for Mr. Scowcroft, is going to the dentist. "Because I never get time to do it," he said.

A few of the more prominent Republicans have been asked to provide television commentary on today's events.

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