Clinton takes golf over gab at elite weekend retreat

January 01, 1999|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

HILTON HEAD, S.C. -- When the choice on this bright cool day came down to golf or heartfelt indoor gab, President Clinton, who has not had much recreation lately, made his preference clear.

On his 15th visit to the annual Renaissance Weekend retreat, he spent almost six hours on the golf course and about 90 minutes, after dark, answering questions about subjects like the euro and biological warfare and voter turnout, with guests 13 to 25 years old.

All Renaissance Weekend seminars are off the record, and reporters were not admitted to Clinton's session yesterday evening. But a White House spokeswoman, Amy Weiss, said the subject of impeachment never came up.

She said the final questioner in the audience of about 125 people asked Clinton what he had learned about life. She said he replied that ``he's more optimistic than when he took office in 1993, about the capacity of the American people to make changes and the ability of the government to help people improve their lives.''

Later, he and Hillary Rodham Clinton attended a banquet with other guests to mark the new year.

The president's travails in 1998 have not dampened turnout here. About 1,350 guests attended, more than in recent years, said Linda LeSourd Lader, one of the retreat's founders.

Pub Date: 1/01/99

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