A polished Chelsea glides into view Clinton daughter leaves her cocoon in debut as a campaigner

Democratic Convention

Campaign 1996

August 29, 1996|By COX NEWS SERVICE

CHICAGO -- As her parents stress family values as a Democratic campaign theme, Chelsea Clinton is emerging from four years in a White House cocoon as a poised, smiling, curly-haired, political asset.

Her braces are gone. Her gawkiness has been replaced by a grace gained through years of ballet. Her shyness has been shooed away by a life full of strangers.

She is 16: old enough to drive and date; a senior at Sidwell Friends School; and now a presence at the Democratic campaign.

Cameras focused almost as much on Chelsea as on the first lady TTC during Hillary Rodham Clinton's speech to the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night.

And for a daughter who has been shielded from the public since her arrival at the White House, her ride on President Clinton's train trip has been a debut as a campaigner.

Indeed, yells of "Where's Chelsea?" occasionally interrupted presidential speeches until Clinton paused to let his daughter stand and allow applauding admirers take a gander.

Waving with her father from the observation deck of "The 21st Century Express," Chelsea spent two days riding the rails through West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio before flying to Chicago to hear her mother's speech.

Aiming to establish the Democrats as the party that cares about family and children -- and focus on the president and first lady as parents -- Mrs. Clinton made at least 15 references to her daughter during her nationally televised speech at the Democratic convention.

President Clinton is likely to mention Chelsea in his acceptance speech at the convention tonight.

Chelsea "really enjoys being with her mom and dad at significant moments in their lives," said Mike McCurry, the White House press secretary.

"She wanted to be here" for the train trip and convention because she soon will be returning to school. "Her role will be no different" than in previous political autumns, McCurry said.

Earlier, Clinton had told Time magazine that his daughter would not speak at the Democratic National Convention. "Chelsea hasn't asked to play a part, and I wouldn't have let her if she had," he said.

Personifying the maxim of a good child, she is being seen more than heard.

Yesterday, Chelsea toured the Chicago Mercantile Exchange as brokers and runners chanted, "Chel-sea! Chel-sea!"

Because her mother was raised in suburban Chicago, Chelsea is familiar with the city. She has been spotted shopping on Michigan Avenue with two friends.

Indeed, her movements are being chronicled as closely as those of a visiting rock star. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Chelsea had stir-fry and a skim-milk latte during a stop at Food Life restaurant.

Although she has accompanied her parents at events before and taken overseas trips with her mother, Chelsea has taken a step toward a more public life with her part in her father's train trip and presence at the Democratic National Convention.

In the town of Bowling Green, Ohio, Chelsea stepped down from the train with Clinton and worked the rope line, shaking hands and greeting the crowd like a pro.

Pub Date: 8/29/96

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