First lady's path leads to B & A Trail Hillary Rodham Clinton kicks off federal trail effort

October 06, 1998|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer William F. Zorzi Jr. contributed to this article.

Ignoring a banner that said "Save the Presidency. Jail Ken 'Porno' Starr," first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke in Severna Park yesterday flanked by a phalanx of politicians that included Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who snubbed the president when he visited a Montgomery County school last month.

Mrs. Clinton -- almost an hour late when she arrived at the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail -- stepped into the miniature-flag-waving fanfare of a community that is rarely visited by dignitaries beyond the county government level. She was there to kick off a White House Millennium Council program to promote and develop 2,000 trails nationwide.

The first lady's visit followed the recent slighting of President Clinton by Glendening, who supported Mrs. Clinton and seemed to take two contrasting stands with regard to the president's recent troubles.

When Glendening canceled plans to show up at a Silver Spring elementary school during a Sept. 8 presidential visit to show support for the governor's educational initiatives, he blamed scheduling conflicts. Glendening canceled an Oct. 2 fund-raiser with Clinton and criticized him for failing to set a good example for the nation's youth.

Yesterday, Glendening took a swipe at the cost and intent of independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's investigation.

"In all honesty, I think it's a waste of time, money and energy on a person's personal life," he said.

Asked yesterday about his Silver Spring absence, the governor said Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend had been there for the administration and that he didn't regret pulling out of the fund-raiser. Since then, he said, Clinton has admitted he "made a mistake and apologized" for the Monica Lewinsky affair.

"It is time to try and move on," he said. "Let's get on with the business of running this country."

Mrs. Clinton said nothing about the scandal at yesterday's event. She took no questions from the media and ignored reporters who yelled questions about the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment inquiry.

She arrived just before 4 p.m., walked about 500 yards of the trail, inspected a map and went to the stage.

About 1,000 people showed up to give Mrs. Clinton a standing ovation and to cheer as Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary, a Republican, took the microphone to say, "Isn't she great?"

Mrs. Clinton spoke about trails and their importance in "bringing together the community."

"Like the railroads that brought us together in the 19th century, these trails will bring us together in the 20th, 21st centuries," she said.

The ceremony took little more than an hour, but Mrs. Clinton's visit -- which brought a crowd of Secret Service agents and county police to the usually quiet area -- left an indelible impression on many.

Holding up his right hand, 10-year-old Dimario Walker of Annapolis said Mrs. Clinton had just shaken it.

"I'm never going to wash this hand," Walker said. "I'll just never get nothing on it when I eat."

Pub Date: 10/06/98

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