Clinton shifts into vacation frame of mind in Southern California

March 29, 1994|By New York Times News Service

CORONADO, Calif. -- President Clinton and his family began a spring vacation in southern California yesterday at the oceanfront home of M. Larry Lawrence, the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and the owner of a landmark hotel here.

After a busy month made burdensome by new scrutiny of the Whitewater affair, aides said Mr. Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton hope to spend much of the week at play.

This is spring break for their daughter, Chelsea, who arrived here from Dallas with her parents and an unidentified friend aboard Air Force One Sunday night.

In their stay in this affluent city across the bay from San Diego, the Clintons will be the guests of a wealthy absentee friend, as they have been on previous vacations.

Mr. Lawrence, the owner of the 106-year-old Hotel del Coronado, has been a major contributor to the Democratic Party, for which he was rewarded with his ambassadorship.

His three-story, 20,000-square-foot Tudor-style home (with 17 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, 3 kitchens, a music room, a theater screening room, a pool and a spa) is just down the beach from the hotel, surrounded by a brick 'wall.

Mr. Clinton did not emerge from the Lawrence home until just before noon yesterday, and he was clearly in a vacation mood.

Jogging through a Navy golf course, he offered a thumbs-up sign when reporters asked him about George Stephanopoulos, a senior White House aide who acknowledged over the weekend that he had complained to Treasury officials about the appointment of Jay B. Stephens, a former Republican prosecutor in Washington, to oversee part of the Whitewater affair.

Mrs. Clinton, Chelsea and her friend, a classmate from Sidwell Friends School in Washington, ventured out separately by bike on an outing marred when the friend crashed into the open door of a parked pickup truck.

Both girls were taken home by car and the friend was treated by a White House doctor for an injured knee, but she did not appear to have been badly hurt.

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