Clinton to visit city to announce grants Baltimore stop offers friendlier set of faces

December 22, 1998|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Paul West contributed to this article.

President Clinton's foray to Baltimore tomorrow will be his first outside of Washington since his historic impeachment last week and will give him a chance to mingle in an ardently pro-Clinton city -- predominantly black, solidly union and largely Democratic.

Hoping to appear as if he is moving the nation's business forward, the embattled president will announce grants for the nation's homeless programs, including a large block of funds for Baltimore and Maryland.

Clinton's last trip to the city was on Nov. 1, when he came to support the re-election of Gov. Parris N. Glendening. In those pre-impeachment days, Clinton was met with an enthusiastic crowd at a West Baltimore church.

Yesterday, local and state officials were scrambling to prepare for Clinton's visit, which will include a stop at the Boys and Girls Club in the 1100 block of E. Fayette St. Details of the trip were being formulated last night.

"I am extremely honored the president will be visiting Baltimore," said Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who for years has been a close Clinton ally. "He's done a great deal to help improve the quality of life in the city."

Last week, Schmoke and 600 Baltimore residents attended a rally with thousands of others in Washington against the president's impeachment.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, who opposed the articles of impeachment during last week's debate and voted against them Saturday, said he plans to attend tomorrow's event.

Clinton's visit, he said, is intended to allow the president "to stay focused" and continue performing his duties.

"I think the president is trying to make it clear to the world that he -- in spite of all that is taking place -- is performing the work that he has to do," Cummings said. "I'm glad he's coming to Baltimore. It's a great place for him to come."

Glendening also plans to attend, despite what was a rocky time between the governor and the president over the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Initially, Glendening expressed support for Clinton after he acknowledged his sexual relationship with the former White House intern.

Then the governor declined to appear with Clinton at a Silver Spring school and asked the president not to attend one of his fund-raisers.

As the Maryland election appeared to tighten, the White House and the governor smoothed over their relations, and Clinton came to Baltimore to campaign for Glendening at the New Psalmist Baptist Church on Old Frederick Road.

Speaking from the pulpit of the West Baltimore church, Clinton urged as many as 3,000 members of the congregation to vote for Democratic candidates in Maryland.

"We have an excellent working relationship with the president," Ray Feldmann, Glendening's spokesman, said yesterday. The governor is "very happy to have the president here in Maryland, and he looks forward to being with him."

Tomorrow's event is expected to be attended by about 200 people, including government officials and advocates for the homeless. Usually, either Clinton or Vice President Al Gore makes the grant announcements.

The president had planned to announce the grants on his radio program Saturday, but used his weekly address to announce the halt of the bombing campaign against Iraq.

Baltimore officials said they were notified Saturday that the president wanted to make the announcement in the city.

"The whole thing is still in the planning stages," said Alonza Williams, a spokesman for the mayor. "There are no definite plans, other than the fact that the president is coming."

Pub Date: 12/22/98

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