WASHINGTON -- President Clinton's opponents like to complain that his White House sometimes seems to be run by 19-year-olds. Today, they will be at least partly right.
As part of the shutdown of the federal government forced by the budget deadlock between the president and Congress, most of Mr. Clinton's staff has been deemed "nonessential" and will be taking the time off.
In their absence, much of the daily work around the president's office will be handled by college-age interns, who work at the White House for free and so are not affected by the budget squeeze.
Press secretary Mike McCurry said the White House staff will be reduced from 430 to about 90 because of the shutdown.
Officials checked to see if they could come in and work for free, but that turned out to be illegal.
About two dozen top presidential aides will come to work, but most of them won't have any secretaries to answer their telephones, another official said.
Mr. Clinton will have "a retinue that will help the president take and place phone calls," Mr. McCurry said.
The Secret Service officers who guard the president are exempt from the shutdown. So are most members of the staff of the National Security Council, which takes care of foreign policy and defense issues. Chief of staff Leon E. Panetta will be at work, looking for ways to negotiate a compromise with Congress.