Two portraits of alumnus Ross Perot have dropped fro display at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, but officials say it had nothing to do with President Clinton's visit last week.
"It's all very coincidental," said academy spokeswoman Karen Myers.
She said the two portraits were removed several weeks ago to make room for portraits of another distinguished graduate.
"We have several showcases, and we update them routinely," Ms. Myers said yesterday. "We updated that one six or eight weeks ago, long before we knew the president was even coming."
Ms. Myers said the academy was given about 10 days notice that the president would visit last Thursday. Mr. Clinton ate lunch in Bancroft Hall -- where Mr. Perot's portraits had hung -- with midshipmen and addressed the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
She said the portraits of Mr. Perot, a 1953 academy graduate, were removed to make room for portraits of Marine Col. Charles Boulden, another academy graduate and a NASA astronaut.
"This is a showcase for distinguished graduates," Ms. Myers said. "I can see how people who had seen the portraits of Perot, and then noticed that they had been taken down, might try to put two and two together. But that's not the case at all.
"Ross Perot just isn't in the public limelight as much."
The portraits of the Dallas billionaire, who made an unsuccessful independent presiden tial bid last year, had been on display in Bancroft for about two years, according to Noel Milan, another academy spokesman.
In Dallas, Mr. Perot's spokeswoman Sharon Holman declined comment. At the White House, a spokeswoman said she knew nothing about the switch.
The showcase also includes portraits of Rear Adm. Thomas C. Lynch, the academy's superintendent; Adm. Frank B. Kelso II, chief of naval operations; and former President Jimmy Carter, another alumnus.